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Finding E-books: A Guide

Access and Related Issues


Thomas A. Edison's new radio phonograph makes its bow in Washington
Many audio books are available online.
About this image.

In order to be in accordance with current copyright laws, the Library of Congress limits most of its e-book offerings to works first published in America before 1923. However, the Library includes more recent public domain documents generated by the federal government or the Library itself, such as annual reports, illustrated collection guides, Federal Research Division country studies, and a history of the Library of Congress.

See the United States Copyright Office Web site for more information on copyright or to search the Copyright Catalog to check on an item’s copyright status. Consult the Library's guide for additional resources on searching copyright registration and renewal records.

Audio E-books and Resources for Visually Impaired Readers

The Library of Congress Web site has details about the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, which makes Braille and audio materials available by mail to eligible borrowers in the United States.

Though e-books are often thought of as primarily text-based, there are electronic versions of many audio books online as well.

Free Audio Books

Many sites offer audio books for download. Some are read by authors, volunteers, or use synthetic speech. Below are a few sources of audio books online for free:

In addition to a selection of well-known classics available for download, an assortment of free/open-source audio books are listed at External Link. Audio books are published in MP3 (.mp3) format.

Internet Archive

Many public domain and free original works are available in the Internet Archive External Link.  Texts are downloadable in DAISY format, as well as in various text-based formats.


LibriVox External Link is a large collection of public domain audio books recorded by volunteers. They are published in MP3 (.mp3) or OGG (.ogg) format.

Online Books Page

The Online Books Page has a short listing External Link of sites that host free audio books. Formats vary by page.

Commercial Audio Books

Most major booksellers offer audio books as part of their selection in various formats.  However, two popular sources of downloadable audio books are External Link and Apple’s iTunes External Link Store.


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  March 22, 2011
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