LibriVox - a free source of audiobooks on the web

8 July 2009

Isn't reading books a chore? How much boring could it possibly be? And if you're blind, it's so dull that your eyes can't be bothered to even look. Yep, reading books is surely the dullest past-time anybody could bother with. And the slap in the face is, it's not even free! You have to pay for books to be bored senseless! Unless you join a library. Either way it's an insult.

The likes of audible.com have tried to rectify this by producing audio readings of said books, but they cost money too. But if you have no cash to flash and you don't mind listening to the classics rather than the current Times bestseller list, then have a play around with LibriVox.

The site uses volunteers to record chapters of books that are available in the public domain - those that are no longer held in copyright. Their aim is to record all books available in the public domain, which is an endless task since more are released from copyright every day. For example, the works of Charles Dickens are available, as are those of Mark Twain - both have been dead long enough for copyright not to be an issue anymore.

To be honest, the quality is very hit and miss. Some are presented professionally, while others are presented by nasal Australians with no sense of timing or pronunciation or the ability to read. At best, it's a free way to create a collection of audio books for your iPod. At worst, it's like waterboarding for the ears. But it's free, dammit, and if you don't like them you can volunteer and record your own.

5 comments

  • Tim
    I ahem "read" Moby Dick this way. For years I'd wondered what it was all about. The guy who read it wasn't too bad either. I thought that was pretty good, so I downloaded the Island of Dr Moreau, wow what a contrast it was very poorly read and I gave up after about 3 chapters. Take your chances and you might get lucky. Download enough and you may get to recognise a few people who have a talent for reading them aloud, people who can keep the same vocal styles for each character. Best advice for audio books though is the audible offers, sign up for a free offer or two for one, then quit as soon as you download your free book, then in a couple of months time when they send you a "we want you back" email do it again
  • Andy
    Audible.co.uk and Audacity. A software match made in heaven.
  • There's p.
    Nothing like a cheap shot at blind people! Paul, why didn't you cut it as a professional journalist again?
  • Paul S.
    I don't know to be honest with you, though I don't recall ever attempting to train or secure employment as one. Odd that.
  • Nobby
    These are not as much fun as those read by speech synthesiser. At least with those you could pretend Stephen Hawking was reading you a bedtime story.

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