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LibriVox: Acoustical Liberation of Books in the Public Domain

I’ve got quite a bit of driving to do in the days ahead, so I clicked on my handy iTunes store to see what audiobooks are available. At $35.00, on average, I was just about to give up.

Until.

I.

Saw.

LibriVox.

(They have a website but I think you’re better off just looking at the catalog in iTunes.)

I’ve been downloading books all night. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Grimms’ Fairy Tales. The Oz books. Bleak House. House of Mirth. Jabberwocky. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The Waste Land. Wind in the Willows. And I’m only on page 7 of 76.

I can’t wait to hit the road. Even in this wicked snowicane, I can’t wait to hit the road! Woohooo!

* * * UPDATE * * *

Um. The people reading these suck super ass. I guess that’s why audiobooks cost $35. Seems a small price to pay for a decent reader. Dammit. Back to dreading the drive again. Can anyone recommend a good audiobook? And then I’ll look forward to it again. (Last time I listened to Anthony Doerr’s About Grace. Great reader.)

10 thoughts on “LibriVox: Acoustical Liberation of Books in the Public Domain

  1. Molly, did you check your library? Ours has some downloadable audiobooks. Seamus Heaney reading his Beowulf trans is really good on audio. I think it can be had via one of these torrent sites. Happy trails…

  2. Did you try audible.com? It has all the same titles as iTunes (and a lot more). You need to join, and you pay $15 a month and get a ‘credit’ every month (so basically one audiobook a month for $15 instead of $35 on iTunes). Plus, if you’re a member, you pay way less for the other audiobooks you buy. And they offer a lot of short stories and first chapters for free download.

  3. if i remember right, librovox is a sort of collective reading group wherein you record your own reading, or you group up with a few others to record the reading. so basically it’s amateur, but free. i listened to the importance of being earnest from librivox (again, if i remember correctly) two years ago and although it was an amateur reading, it wasn’t impossible to listen to. i actually enjoyed it.

    also, there tend to be several different versions of books read by different people, so if one version stinks try another. though i have a feeling that tends to be for the shorter works, since it’s a real undertaking for an unpaid amateur to devote lots of time to recording an entire novel.

    have a good drive. the snowicane was weak and stinky, a real disappointment.

  4. A friend of mine once took the text file of novel that I wrote, ran it through a computer voice synthesizer, recorded the results, and listened to it while jogging.

    He claimed to find it enjoyable. And so it might be, although I’d recommend using a better novel. And in maybe adding some nice soft jazz in the background… Maybe some random laser-blast special effects. Or snippets from a porn soundtrack…

    …Adding, John Cage’s INDETERMINACY makes excellent driving listening. I once listened to it on repeat while driving from Pennsylvania to Chicago.

  5. I have also found myself “distracted” by the voices, style of reader, etc. making them something difficult. Then, my mind started to wander, etc.

    So, when I listen to audiobooks I stick to (1) things I have read before and need to “read” again; (2) the book version of a movie; (3) nonfiction.

    I think each of these lets me wander a bit but keep me entertained.

  6. Recorded Books Inc. have great readers–for a book set among the immigrant population George Guidall was (is) a standout–try Henry Roth’s Call it Sleep; Frank Muller is an Elmore Leonard reader of perfection; George Miller reads Carl Hiaasen very well.

    John Crowley reads his own The Solitudes (Aegypt Series) quite well.

    Also, there are TONS of great free podcasts available–Radio Lab is wonderful. There are some very good philosophy and ethics podcasts–at Philosophy Bites. And iTunes University has many great options. I’ve been listening to Chomsky; Peter Singer; and Jeff McMahan lately (and now you know quite a bit about me I guess).

    d

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