LibriVox: Acoustical Liberation of Books in the Public Domain

Librivox Logo

I made a wonderful friend while we were both volunteering at the American Red Cross the other week.  He shared with me that he also volunteered as a reader for LibriVox.  I had never heard of it, so he explained more (thanks Mark!).

It turns out that this terrific organization (www.librivox.org) uses volunteers to record audiobooks that are already in the public domain due to the expiration of copyright.  So, you don’t want to pay >$20 for every audiobook, or $15/mo for an www.audible.com (now owned by Amazon) subscription?  Check out LibriVox!!!

The titles can be downloaded as .mp3 files or acquired via the subscribe feature in iTunes.  I’ve already sampled a few and found the quality to be more than acceptable.  Rarely does one person record a whole book, different volunteers record individual chapters.  The voices are not professionals, but dedicated amateurs who are clearly very passionate about their work.  The variety of titles available is truly remarkable.  My friend Mark had made many contributions, and recorded portions of Opticks by Isaac Newton, The Pony Rider Boys series, a gardening book, and even a chapter in the famous poem Casey at the Bat.

Of course, I had to check-out the “Choose by Genre,” option under the Advanced Search option.  Sure enough, LibriVox has a dedicated Memoirs category with more than 250 titles!  The catalog includes books by famous people such as Helen Keller, Ulysses S. Grant, and Jack London.  However, it was the lesser known titles that drew me in.  I found myself listening to The Expedition of the Donner Party and Its Tragic Fate, which was written by a woman who had lived through the tragedy as a young girl.  I also downloaded Autobiography of a Seaman, Vol I, by a naval captain from the Napleonic era.  I was completely blown away by the variety of memoir material.

Like every book addict, I usually have trouble deciding what to read next.  LibriVox has only made it harder, as their wide array of acoustic titles now competes for my attention.  Oh dear, what do I read, or listen to, next??

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