Energy of the indirect and direct optical bandgap of near-stoichiometric lithium niobate (nSLN) crystals is evaluated by optical absorption measurement. The value of the indirect bandgap (3.95 eV) is consistent with the earlier reports. However, the direct bandgap energy of 4.12 eV is higher than the previously reported experimental value (3.68 eV). The direct bandgap energy obtained here is closer to the recent theoretical value estimated by Thierfelder et al. [Phys. Status Solidi C 7, 362 (2010)] in comparison to the previously predicted value by Ching et al. [Phys. Rev. B 50, 1992 (1994)]. The phonons involved in the indirect allowed transitions have energies ∼85 meV (685 cm−1) and are identified as the E(TO9) and E(LO8) optical phonon modes from the Raman scattering measurement.