Librivox (free audio books)

January 9, 2009

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Last update June 9, 2009

Editor’s note:  This was originally just a review of Librivox.  However, I noticed that people seem to be stumbling aross this article in an effort to answer two questions

  • Who are the best readers on Librivox?
  • What are the best books on Librivox?

I’m going to a make an effort to answer those question in the first part of this article.  If you simply want to read the original review of librivox, please scroll down!

Question 1:  Who are the best readers on Librivox?

This is really subjective, but I’ll make an effort to answer the question in the coming weeks.  This will be a substantial undertaking, as it will be necessary to sample the readings of the more prolific readers on Librivox.

For starters, I’ll recommend the readers from “Journey to the Interior of the Earth”

  • Vinny Bove
  • Mark Bradford
  • Hugh McGuire
  • Kristin Luoma
  • Mur Lafferty
  • Paul S. Jenkins
  • Alex Foster
  • Kristen McQuillen
  • Michael Crowl
  • Brad Bush
  • Lana Taylor
  • Kara Shallenberg

Certainly some of those readers are better than others, this this is a good starting point.  I will attempt to work my way through all of the more prolific readers at Librivox and select the best of the best.  I will update this article as I move forward on this task – I will update the date at the top and make a note as to my progress.

Note – you can used the advanced search to search by reader.

Question 2: What are the best books on Librivox?

Librivox contains a great selection of books in the public domain.  At one point, I had a list of books I intended to listen to, but it seems that I have misplaced this list.  I’ll compile a more complete list, but here are a couple to get you started:

  • Journey to the Interior of the Earth (Verne)
  • The Count of Monte Cristo (Dumas)
  • A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)

I will update both of these sections regularly over the next few weeks.

Original review of Librivox

This is supposed to be a book review post, but I’m going off on a slight tangent. I would like to point out a wonderful site –

If the name looks a bit strange, dust off your Latin.

Librivox has organized volunteers to record their readings of classic literature. Since these works are in the public domain, there are no copyright issues. Librivox contains a library of 2000 books, and this is growing daily. There is absolutely, positively, NO CHARGE to download the audio books! In fact, there isn’t even a place to down, nor are there the invasive ads you see on many free sites. Compare this to the price you pay for audio books of popular contemporary books. I’m in my car for 90-120 minutes every day, so I have become a frequent audio book listener.

The books can be downloaded in MP3 or ogg vorbis format and you can get them via podcast. Personally, I download the MP3s and have iTunes burn them to CD.

When I first became aware of Librivox, my first concern was the quality of the reading. Would the readers have a horrible, monotone reading style? I have listened to one complete book (Journey to the Center of the Earth, one of my all time favorites) and sampled a few others. Really, considering that these are unpaid volunteers, the quality of the reading is quite good. Librivox does have a decent amount of structure in how they organize their projects, utilizing “book coordinators” to make sure things flow smoothly.

Overall, I really had to nitpick to find anything I didn’t like. At the start of every MP3 file (which could be a single chapter or several chapters) there is a notice telling the reader that the file is from librivox, identifying the reader, and releasing copyright (Librivox does not acquire a copyright to the actual recording). At first, this was a minor distraction the continuity, but it quickly became a non-issue.

The other minor issue was the fact that a book often has several different readers. Once again, these folks are volunteers, so it’s not surprising that a single person can’t undertake the recording of a 500 page book. You might actually like the variety of having the different voices.

If you want to catch up on the classics, this is a great way to do it. Not only do these folks have a great idea, but they have also done a good job of executing it. Kudos to Librivox.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rhondda
    Feb 25, 2011 @ 19:15:38

    Discovering Librivox has brought great joy into my life. I listen to the stories on my ipod and sometimes I get so involved that I find myself wearing earphones all day long…..I can’t say who my favourite reader is as I have too many favourites. As far as books are concerned I have been enjoying all the classics I missed out on when young, plus an occasional crime story thrown in for good measure…….Librivox is a wonderful service and it is hard to believe it is free….


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