On two previous occasions I’ve written about websites which were doing free audio books. One of those two sites closed and the other was never anything to shout about and hasn’t gotten any better with time. However, there’s now another new site named LibriVox where people are trying to do the same thing. I already like it better than the other two for a couple of reasons.
- They are offering BitTorrents of the books both for faster download and reduced bandwidth costs for LibriVox.
- They don’t offer any of the low quality downloads that one of the previous sites offered. Their gimmick was that a very low quality was free and you paid if you wanted higher quality. LibriVox by contrast seem to be sticking with 64kpbs and 128kbps MP3 as well as Ogg Vorbis.
- They have several group projects where multiple people are reading chapters from the same book. It greatly increases the chances that a book will be finished but the quality can be all over the place. Hopefully they will allow multiple readings of the same material in their library and we will be able to rate the results and pick only the best ones. The alternative would be readings with strange pauses, a lack of re-recording mistakes, mispronunciations and varying pronunciations chapter to chapter, hiss, hum, noise, etc.
I read Agatha Christie’s The Mysterious Affair at Styles quite recently so I listened to the beginning of that recording. It was not a group project, it had been recorded by an individual. It isn’t quite as smooth as most commercial audiobooks but it seems very listenable.
Also of note are two commercial companies selling audiobooks without any kind of DRM restrictions. One I’ve mentioned before is Telltale Weekly. They are giving away some audio and selling other using both PayPal and BitPass. The other is unabridgedbooks.com. I haven’t purchased any books from either of these companies so I really can’t comment on the quality or what kind of value you are getting for your money. If anybody tries these out I’d love to hear about it. I’ll happily publish reviews if you don’t have a venue to put up your own or link to what you write about them.
The website for unabridgedbooks.com seemed to have some issues when I went. I didn’t see any price on the page where I could look at the details of the book and when I tried to add a couple of items to my cart to check their price that way, one worked and the other failed to get added to my cart. They may have some issues to iron out.