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Listen to free audiobooks with LibriVox

Having completed ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’, I’ve now got to read ‘King Lear’ for my upcoming English course. I’ll be studying these two in-depth soon, but it’s necessary to read them through first to get a gist of the plot and form preliminary ideas about meanings and themes. Whilst I enjoyed ‘Streetcar’, ‘Lear’ is proving much more heavy-going. The language used is very hard for me to get used to, and I must say the plot is yet to get interesting. It takes me several minutes to get through a single page since I have to keep referring to the modern translation page, which tells me what the most confusing phrases mean. Moving on from this tangent and putting my ineptitude aside, this article does have a point to it. In my pursuit of making Shakespear easier to read, I searched for an audio recording of ‘Lear’, and fortunately found it listed on the smashing little website called LibriVox.

Librivox has a wide variety of audio-books which can be downloaded and played on your PC or portable players

Librivox has a wide variety of audio-books which can be downloaded and played on your PC or portable players

All the audio-books available for download are fully legal since their copyright has expired; they’re therefore in the public domain. There’s a useful search feature which lets you find books by title, author, genre, or other options. So even if you’ve not got a particular book in mind, you can simply search for ‘Horror’ or ‘Romance’ to receive a selection of different books that meet that criteria. When you’ve found a book you want to listen to, you have the choice of downloading it as a single zipped file, or streaming separate MP3 or OGG tracks. Once these have downloaded to your PC you can unzip the folder and then play the tracks. Since the file format is MP3 you’ll should be able to copy it onto your MP3 player to listen to it when you’re not at your PC.

Web community projects have been all the rage since Wikipedia, and LibriVox is no exception. However,  the community features are implemented in a very in a very effective way way – the users seem friendly, and it appears that anyone who wants to can add audio for a new book or contribute to one that’s currently being recorded. You’ll obviously need a microphone and some recording software to save it, but other than that, there are no limitations. Each project tells you where the transcript can be downloaded for free – this saves you buying the book.

The variety of audio-books is very impressive, and the dedication of the contributors is equally good. From my brief look around the forums, everyone seemed to be more than willing to assist confused users. The library of books is also being added to all the time. The audio-books can be downloaded from librivox.org.

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Amazon Kindle setback

February 28, 2009 Leave a comment

After complaints by the Writer’s Guild of America, Amazon has caved in and left the text-to-speech feature of their portable book gadget at the discretion of the book’s author and publisher to decide whether the machine is able to read their book aloud to the owner or not.

The Kindle, which is not currently available in the United Kingdom, is a portable e-book reader which was originally released in 2007. The second version, which was released on the 23rd February, is more portable, has a longer battery life, in addition to the most talked-about new feature: the ability to read books aloud. This feature was going to be available for all books on the Kindle, however following complaints from the aforementioned Writers Guild, Amazon changed the feature to be optional for all books. This has prompted complaints from the hard of sight, for which a major appeal of the device is the ability to enjoy books through audio whilst travelling. The Authors Guild’s reasoning for the complaint was that there was a potential for the device to become the de-facto in audio-books, which may reduce the profit that publishers and authors make from releasing their books as audio-books themselves.