Wednesday, 10th October 2007
Resources of the Week: Audio Books for Free
Resources of the Week: AudioBooksForFree...and other places where you can get...audio books for free
By Shirl Kennedy, Senior Editor
OK, so you still can't play the downloadable audiobooks from OverDrive*** or NetLibrary. It's a DRM thing, we're told. (There are ways, of course, if you have a strong desire, sufficient time, and the technical skills of an übergeek. The usual caveats apply here.)
But it's not like there's any shortage of DRM-free, downloadable audio content that can be listed to on an iPod...or any other portable media player. If you're one of our regular visitors, you know that we bring podcasts to your attention on a regular basis; we even posted a Podcast Roundup as Resource of the Week back in January.
But sometimes you just want to listen to a good book, right? Well, here are some places to go to find one -- without the need to remove your wallet from your pocket or purse.
+ LibriVox ("acoustical liberation of books in the public domain").
LibriVox volunteers record chapters of books in the public domain and release the audio files back onto the net. Our goal is to make all public domain books available as free audio books. We are a totally volunteer, open source, free content, public domain project.
Search or browse the catalog of 950+ titles. Or volunteer to read/record additional public domain works.
+ AudioBooksForFree. It doesn't get much simpler than this. Browse using the tabs at the top or the lefthand navigation panel. (Note that there are tabs for Music and Ringtones; nothing here yet...content is "coming soon.") There's also a search tool that lets you filter/browse or hunt for a particular title. The basic categories are fiction, nonfiction and childrens. If you're browsing rather than looking for an exact title, use the navigation panel to zero in on categories of interest. Books are in mp3 format; technical help is available, and there's an FAQ. Free registration is required. You can purchase higher quality files or book "collections" on CD, DVD, or already loaded onto an mp3 player, a hard drive, or a flash memory card.
+ Open Culture Audiobook Podcast Collection. While the collection itself here is not that large, if you scroll down the page, you'll find links to a whole bunch of audiobook podcast sites. Bookmark this one; it's a good fishing hole.
+ The venerable Project Gutenberg has both "human-read and computer-generated audio books."
+ AssistiveMedia is an interesting site that provides "audio access to reading materials for anyone with a reading access barrier." The focus here is on magazine articles and other short works. Content is eclectic -- you'll find material from a number of well-known, well-regarded publications (i.e., American Heritage, Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, Scientific America).
+ Podiobooks.com -- "serialized audio books which are made available in podcast format." You can receive episodes via RSS or download them directly. Lots of science fiction and mysteries by authors you've probably never heard of -- check the "charts" page to find out what's hot/popular. Users rate the various offerings. Free registration.
+ If you want to learn a foreign language and can't afford/don't have access to something like Rosetta Stone (which you might...check your local public library), try these Foreign Service Institute courses that "were developed by the United States government and are in the public domain." The audio is in mp3; the accompanying text is in PDF. Note: site is not connected with the U.S. government or any "official" entity.
A few more "related resources" from Gary.
It's always fun to contribute to a Shirl Kennedy post. I appreciate that is allowing me to join in.
*** The Digital Media Locater from OverDrive offers a database the can:
1) Help you determine if your library offers audio e-books and other e-media from Overdrive
2) Provides access to what specific titles are available
+ The Spoken Alexandria Project
The Spoken Alexandria Project is creating a free Creative Commons library of spoken word recordings, consisting of classics in the public domain and modern works (with permission). AAC, Ogg Vorbis, and MP3 audiobooks available for free download and redistribution.
+ Literal Systems: Audio Books You Just Can't Buy
A few free audio books along with samples to fee-based titles and direct links to sources like Amazon and Audible as well as the Creative Commons. A few non-English language sources also listed.
Stories for kids, ready to download.
Interviews with authors as well as several complete texts including The Iliad - Book I by Homer, Milton by William Blake, and The Tragedy of Macbeth and other works by Shakespeare.
See Also: Poetry Online (Most Poems Read by their Authors) as well as interviews with the poet.
Rent, download, buy, trade. Useful database to see if a title is available.
+ Free Samples from the Audio Publishing Group at Random House