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Topic: Free Audiobooks

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Old 04-01-2006, 08:36 PM
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LibriVox and Other (podcast-related) resources

Quote:
Originally posted by Pappy
You guys are missing one of the great resources for free audiobooks on the web: LibriVox. It was barely mentioned above as a link but it deserves much more. This site has an ever-growing list of free audiobooks in mp3 (64k or 128k) and ogg format.
Pappy and Holydoc,

Resources like LibriVox are described in the Podcast Audiobook Directory thread. (I've linked to the post that lists it; you have to scroll pretty far down to get to the entry). As Cloysterpeteuk suggested a few posts ago, people looking for free audiobook material should also be checking that thread.

One of the reasons for the split is that the podcast format used to imply regularly delivered episodes, available by subscription, and possibly only accessible for a limited period of time. Some of these sites have since evolved into access points with permanent or semi-permanent repositories, while continuing to remain available as podcast subscriptions. LibriVox is one of those sites. Another is Roy Trumbell's site which is a longer-term repository that is separate from the Story Spieler Podcast site that tracks his subscription podcasts. Some of the longer book-reading efforts from such sites are being deposited at Project Gutenberg's Audiobooks site (under the human-read category). As commented by david1951 much earlier in this thread, the better (higher bit-rate) quality audiobooksforfree.com recordings are available there (such as the various Sherlock Holmes stories).

Another effort similar to LibriVox's coordinated readings (by volunteers) is being carried out by LiteralSystems.org. The main distinction is that their works are available under the Free Creative Commons license - they remain free for use and distribution in this format, but a commercial vendor could not grab these up and start selling them to people in repackaged format, for example. LiteralSystems is another source for Gutenberg's audiobooks.

Many of these topics are discussed in separate forum threads. Some of the discussions that appear in threads like the present one have been stripped out by the moderators, so that it's easier for visitors to find the sites instead of having to wade through commentaries. Some sites are mentioned in posts about resources for the visually handicapped. The AssistiveMedia.org makes available copyrighted works read by volunteer readers (similar to the way LibriVox and LiteralSystems operates). These allow material from current periodicals and independent writers, on both fiction and non-fiction topics, to circulate in audio format under permission by the authors. There are podcasts (subscribe at this feedburner feed) in addition to the Reading Room archives and material at the web site. Here's an excerpt from their description:

Quote:
Excerpted from Assistive Media's Web Page
What Do We Do and How Do We Do It?
AM produces spoken-word recordings of short-subject literary works that are made easily accessible through the World-Wide Web. Currently, AM focuses on reproducing copyright-approved material from reputable mainstream periodicals (The New Yorker, Harper's, Wired, Scientific American, Atlantic Monthly, Civilization, Smithsonian, Granta and more) and independent writers; providing an eclectic mixture of interesting and educational material.
From the short story podcast sites, I'd recommend looking at Stories to Go and Miette's Bedtime Story Podcast. Here's the original descriptor of the first site.

Sites listed in this post:and remember to check Podcast Audiobook Directory thread.

Last edited by moriond; 04-01-2006 at 08:39 PM.
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Old 04-01-2006, 11:04 PM
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moriond,

Excellent thread. Thanks for summing it all up for us "cough" slower folks. *smile*

I truly thank you for your recommendations and taking the time to place those links. I am especially happy with the Bedtime story podcast. What an excellent idea!

Thank you once again.

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Old 06-27-2006, 10:29 PM
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hi, i'm looking for an audiobook for "Wizard's First Rule" by Terry Goodkind

can anybody help me there? thanks
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Old 10-26-2006, 07:35 AM
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I've listened to close to 50 audiobooks since getting my first iPod in February of this year. I was going to subscribe to audible but a friend suggested I check the library. Every book came from the library in either audio CD format or downloaded format via NetLibrary or Overdrive. I purchased Markable to help with the audio ripping...best $15 ever spent. Makes the audio CD process a breeze. My library is part of a group of about 20 libraries throughout the county. They have a consolidated catalog so when I'm looking for a book I search on their site for "CD Book" and "All Libraries". When I find what I'm looking for, I can place a hold on the CD and it is shipped to my local library. They call me when it is in and I go and pick it up. Pretty sweet and all free.

Many books are available via NetLibrary or Overdrive. Your local library would subscribe to these services. Unfortunately, these are setup to use Windows DRM so they won't play on iPod without a little work. I purchased SoundTaxi to convert them from WMA to AAC. I trialed Tunebit for awhile but I found the sound quality to be better and louder with SoundTaxi.

Eventually, I'm going to publish my conversion process on my web-site. When I do, I'll place a link here.

- John
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Old 10-26-2006, 08:08 AM
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I borrow my audio books from the local library - rip them to my ipod and delete them when finished


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Old 10-26-2006, 10:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by waxwing

... I purchased SoundTaxi to convert them from WMA to AAC. I trialed Tunebit for awhile but I found the sound quality to be better and louder with SoundTaxi.

Eventually, I'm going to publish my conversion process on my web-site. When I do, I'll place a link here.

- John
Great info, John. Wow! I just downloaded SoundTaxi free trial and began converting some mp3s to AAC. It is doing two at the time and it seems much faster than an iTunes AAC conversion.

With SoundTaxi, when you have a long (in time) mp3 file that you want to convert to AAC, how do you keep the resulting converted AAC file length below the max time that screws up iPod? At which point of conversion do you reduce the file size? Will SoundTaxi convert one file into multiple files -- say a really long audio file into five hour bites?

I suppose it would be asking too much for SoundTaxi to rename the resulting AAC file to m4b, or to convert the original format to AAC instead of mp3, and that I will have to do that manually.

I haven't listened to its sound yet, and I have had some volume problems with TuneBite. SoundTaxi is certainly easier to set up than Tunebite and, at first blush, it's look and feel is very intuitive. It seems much faster than TuneBite or iTunes. Claims a 13X conversion speed.

Since SoundTaxi is pc, all the more advantage to Mac boot camp and whatever comes out of Leopard. Hoping for true dual boot in Leopard like with Parallel. Can't wait. May not be able to wait if my pc doesn't stop crashing and refusing to recognize my hard drive.

In spite of Tunebite and SoundTaxi claims on legality, I have been reluctant to post on how-to in light of DCMA's onerous even telling someone how to overcome protection is deemed a violation of that US federal law. Of course, my questions relate to legitimately acquired mp3's.

Last edited by robert; 10-26-2006 at 10:28 AM.
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Old 10-27-2006, 12:05 AM
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A couple of things to consider...

I used a free program a few months ago to split some of the giant MP3s files before converting to AAC. I think NetLibrary files usually come in pieces but the Overdrive books were often gigantic. I think the program was called MP3Splitter or something like that. Just got a new computer and forgot to reload that one.

I also used MP3Gain to analyze and boost the volume on the downloaded files. I always seemed to have to crank the downloaded files to the point where I'd hear alot of static using my FM transmitter (or I should say more than when listening to ripped CDs). MP3Gain could analyze each mp3 file and determine how far it could boost the overall volume without clipping. Therefore, it was better to do it with smaller MP3s so that one loud passage wouldn't limit boosting the entire book. If I recall, the program didn't actually change the volume level in the audio portion of the file but it set something in the data portion of the MP3 file that would set level.

Since I primarily rip files from the library, I haven't used these programs extensively over the past few months. The audio CD route seems so much easier.

My philosophy on DRM. Obviously, I'm no lawyer but I feel strongly in being able to play my audio on the player of my choice. I also believe strongly in purchasing music and paying for software that I download, especially when the software is reasonably priced. If I pick up a couple hours of productivity from use of some software, I like to support the developer and don't think twice about paying $15-25. I have purchased many programs in day 2 of a 30 day trial because I felt I got value.

Regarding music CDs I check out from the library, I have a five play rule. Any "borrowed" cd that is ripped to my iTunes is put into a playlist called "Review for Purchase". I listen to this group regularily and rate the songs (using the stars on the iPod). I review the playcount for members of the list and when it hits or passes 5, I decide whether or not I want to permanently add the music to my collection. If no, time to delete and make room for something else. If yes, I add the cd to my Amazon wishlist. (I haven't purchased and iTunes music yet though my kids are big buyers.) Everytime I make an Amazon purchase, I purchase one or two of the CDs on the list. Sometimes I purchase them used, sometimes new. Better yet, my relatives like picking things off the wishlist for my birthday and Christmas, etc.

I expect to start using iTunes for individual songs. I'm a guitarist and sometimes I'd like to learn the licks in a single song. iTunes would be great for this except most of my software for slowing down music to learn the licks requires MP3 or non-protected AAC files. So I'll use SoundTaxi to convert those files. A great program for slowing down or repeating portions of track is Transcribe! from Seventh String Software. Another program I bought one day into the trial.

Regarding Audio books checked out on CD, I keep a list of desired books to read on my Amazon wishlist. If a particular book is not available from my local librarys, I'll buy it from Amazon, listen to it, then donate the book to the library. This is especially good for newer releases since the library loves the donations. I figure I'm helping out considering I checked out so many books from them.

Finally, the lawyers may not think so, but I feel in my conscience that I'm doing things on the up and up. I'm not trading files over the net. I'm not stealing music from others. I'm acquiring it through legal means then, in the case of the NetLibrary and OverDrive files, converting them so I can play them on my player. Many of those books allow buring to a CD so how can the record industry say that "rerecording" the audio in my own home so I can listen to it on my player is illegal. As Leo Laporte says frequently in his podcasts, "make content readily available and at a reasonable price and people will buy it but ad more and more DRM and people will figure out how to steal it."
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Old 10-27-2006, 12:33 AM
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I agree waxwing. I see no problem with me getting audiobooks from the library - instead of listening on a CD player I am listening via an ipod - I delete them when I have finished so, to me, that is the same as borrowing - no harm done.

True , true for your last sentence, I agree, he also says it makes pirates out of normal people.
Don't go the DRM way via itunes though just buy the CDs - in a few years you may not have an ipod but something else.

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Old 10-27-2006, 10:51 AM
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Not a lawyer here, so seek expert counsel and even then I bet there are differences of opinion.
SoundTaxi and Tunebite each make extensive claims that their programs are legal. Further, I have no problem ethically or legally with converting a legitimately obtained file so that it will play on my player of choice. There is an ethical obligation to remove that file from my player and computer when my license has expired.
Most web discussion supports that converting CD's to iPod readable files follows the well- established common law right of "fair use." Fair use would require that the converted file exist only as long as the original CD is in possession. The US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), trumps (tramples all over) fair use and most unfortunately makes telling someone how to get around digital protection (DRM) illegal. I would bet that a well-financed, conducted, and structured legal defense could win against prosecution of that act, but who wants to go through that and the reason for my warning. Remember the recording industry went after the guy who posted that a particular digital protection could be overcome by holding down the shift key when loading the CD. Ultimately that case was dropped.
Some European countries, notably France, are moving to make DRM illegal. Russia has already done so. I can't imagine that anyone outside the U.S. is subject to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Interesting that one is allowed to make a CD copy of most of these DRM files.

Mostly, I didn't want my tongue in cheek comment to make you guys think I am a prig.

Great idea on contributing CD's to libraries. My library complains that the life of loaned CD's is short -- specifically mentioning CDs melted from sun heat on the dashboard. NetLibrary and OverDrive make so much more sense.

I am loving SoundTaxi's hands off ease of converting mp3s to AAC/m4a. Just drag and drop or browse multiple files to SoundTaxi, click convert, go to bed, and get up the next morning to a list of files converted to AAC/m4a. Cool! Frequently mp3 files are longer than five hours -- therefore the question about splitting mp3 files. Heretofore, I have used iTunes R Click>Get Info>Options to set the start and stop times within a five hour time. iTunes then converts only the start/stop time portion to an AAC file. It may be time to test if the longer-than-five-hour-homemade-file bug is fixed.

I found an annoying bug yesterday in a five-hour, homemade file -- at 1:28:00 fast reverse (scrubbing backward with the clickwheel; not the <) caused my nano (with the latest update) to jump out of the current file to the next file in audiobooks. I got totally lost the first time this happened and when attempting to find my original place, the fast reverse did not skip out except at the 1:24:00 to 1:28:00 point -- obviously I did not check every time point, but did do a lot of back and forth til I found my place. This bug can be consistently replicated.

Cheers,
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Old 10-27-2006, 04:23 PM
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SoundTaxi

Some interesting posts from CNet forum:

Quote:
Originally Posted by CNet MP3 Insider Lounge forum

"Help" sucks and the FAQ's are limited on the website but it's pretty simple so hard to get into too much trouble. Example - you need <SOURCENAME> at the end of your output directory to maintain the filename but I had to go to the website to get that answer
Default output directory = C:\Converted\<SOURCECHAIN>\<SOURCENAME>

It's slow - each conversion of a 5 Mb file took about 3 minutes (albeit on a vintage laptop)

In the set up you can specify which folder SoundTaxi will always scan. Whenever you add new files to that folder, SoundTaxi will find and convert them for you...and put them in another folder that you specify.

I tried it and i still think tunebite is best. To see tunebite in action. freemymp3.com has a video to see exactly how well it removes drm.
Do not forget to reduce kbps to 40s for audio files to reduce conversion time and file size. And return setting to 128 when doing music. SoundTaxi reduces bit rate in stereo conversion of an mp3 to AAC audio file. Setting compression quality at 48 becomes 19 and 64 becomes 32.

I am thinking I will create in my iTunes/iTunes Music folder (, i.e. identical to entry in Edit>Preferences>Advanced iTunes Music folder location), followed by both < >'s.
X Drive:... \iTunes\iTunes Music\Conversions\<SOURCECHAIN>\<SOURCENAME>
and move into iTunes proper when adding to library.

Last edited by robert; 11-02-2006 at 04:09 PM.
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Old 11-02-2006, 04:07 PM
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SoundTaxi reduces bit rate in stereo conversion of an mp3 to AAC audio file. Setting compression quality at 48 becomes 19 and 64 becomes 32.
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Old 11-29-2006, 10:38 PM
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I came across a site which offers one free download a month - it's called www.simplyaudiobooks.co.uk

I haven't been able to listen to anything yet as my ipod is on the blink so I don't know the quality but hope it's of interest.
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Old 11-30-2006, 01:59 PM
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nfinnie:

That's a great find!

But, note: the downloads aren't able to be played on an iPod. See, http://www.simplyaudiobooks.co.uk/pr...on.php?pId=185
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Old 11-30-2006, 04:52 PM
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However, you can try instead some of the free downloads at the NAXOS audiobook download shop. Note that some of these are from their earlier abridged classics. These entries are also not going to reamain available beyond the end of this year, since they are being offered to inaugurate the direct download sales (announced at the NAXOS site in mid-November). The main download page may also shift as of December 1st (from the UK site to the US site). These are 48 kbps mp3 files. NAXOS has also been offering a subscription streaming audiobook service for two years now, as mentioned in this thread.

Another site that has a monthly free audiobook in mp3 format is www.christianaudio.com.
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Old 12-11-2006, 04:52 PM
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A Christmas Carol

In time for Christmas, A Christmas Carol by CHARLES DlCKENS is available in unabridged format in 5 podcast episodes from iTunes or from this RSS feed. This is a nice production. I think that the narrator, Greg Wayland, has read for ISIS (one of the large UK audiobook companies), although this seems to be an independent and spontaneous effort.
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