I just discovered a fascinating new web site that’s offering thousands of free audiobooks for your Kindle! It’s called LibriVox, and it’s offering over 4,200 different Kindle-ready audiobooks. And they’re adding hundreds and hundreds more every year…
In fact, they claim to be one of the world’s most prolific audiobook publisher, since every month they release up to 100 new audiobooks. The books are available in 33 different languages, and if you tried to listen to them all, one by one, it would take you a full 2 years and 251 days. “Our objective is to make all books in the public domain available, for free, in audio format on the internet,” they explain on their web site. And they’ve already recruited a community of thousands of talented volunteers who are working to make it happen.
“We love reading, love books, love literature…” explains one page, and it adds that they “think the public domain should be defended and enriched, we like free stuff, we like to hear people read to us, and we like reading to other people.” Even though there’s already millions of free e-books available in the public domain, the site’s creators firmly believe that there should also be a free audiobook version for every single one of those e-books. And it’s an inspiring vision which makes me want to wish them all luck.
“It’s fun, it’s a great community, it’s a rewarding public service to the world. And ‘nothing’ is in it for us, except the satisfaction of participating in a wonderful project.”
I’m not the only one who’s a fan of the site. One of the top free apps in Amazon’s new app store (for Android smartphones and tablets) is an audiobook apps from travelingclassics.com. And it gives you easy access to all of the LibriVox audiobooks, plus specially-edited versions of the audiobooks as well as professionally narrated and recorded titles. If you don’t feel like listening to audiobooks on your Kindle, you can also try installing them on your smartphone.
I enjoyed reading the app’s web page, just to read comments from other fans of the audiobook files. There was someone who was already on chapter 44 of a novel by Charles Dickens — and another who was listening to a reading of the original horror book Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I’ve been reading the literary children’s classic, The Wind in the Willows, and I was delighted to discover that there were three different versions! I’ve enjoyed using the text-to-speech option on my Kindle — but this offers a nice twist. Now I’m actually hearing the same books being read by a live narrator!
Of course, it’s also possible to download audio versions of the current best-sellers from Amazon’s audiobook store, Audible.com. (I’ve been intrigued by the chance to hear authors reading their own works.) But I think
the Librivox site offers another way to experience the joy of words — by letting you hear them in the voice of someone else who loves the book just as much as you do. I wonder if I could take a long car trip someday,
and leave my Kindle in the passenger seat to read to me. And at least one blogger hints that it makes you feel like you’re part of an invisible community.
“Literature fans looking for something beyond Oprah Winfrey’s book club are discovering a new kind of club on the Internet…”