Audiobooks on LibriVox: Are They Any Good?

by | Oct 14, 2021

This month we’ve been featuring content all around audiobooks and, in particular, how to listen to them. This week we’re diving into LibriVox. But first, let’s talk about your commute.

As commutes to work and general drive time fill up so much of our lives, listening to a great audiobook can fill the time while helping you achieve your goals and hear the books that have been on your list. 

Listening to an audiobook is a great way to get into the habit of reading without spending any extra time doing so. Of course, reading a book and holding it in your hands is a great way to ingest the same information, but if you’re not there yet, or simply don’t have the time, audiobooks are a tremendous option.

If you’ve been wanting to listen to a classic, or been looking for a way to listen to a classic without having to actually sit down and read it on your own, LibriVox may be what you’ve been looking for.

LibriVox’s objective is this: “To make all books in the public domain available, narrated by real people and distributed for free, in audio format on the internet.”

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. What Is LibriVox?
  2. Is LibriVox Any Good?
  3. How to Use LibriVox

Without further explanation, let’s dive in! 

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What Is LibriVox?

LibriVox is a free internet service that records portions of books that are in the public domain and allows you to access them for free as well as use them in whatever way you wish.

LibriVox states their services in this way: “LibriVox volunteers record chapters of books in the public domain, and then we release the audio files back onto the net for free. All our audio is in the public domain, so you may use it for whatever purpose you wish.”

Those who read for LibriVox have the choice of what books they want to record for. All the books that are read or listened to are in the public domain, and therefore quite old. LibriVox asks users to please note that “readers and listeners should be aware that many of them are very old, and may contain language or express notions that are antiquated at best, offending at worst.” 

According to LibriVox, their fundamental principles are:

  • LibriVox is a non-commercial, non-profit and ad-free project
  • LibriVox donates its recordings to the public domain
  • LibriVox is powered by volunteers
  • LibriVox maintains a loose and open structure
  • LibriVox welcomes all volunteers from across the globe, in all languages

Additionally, LibriVox also allows you to be part of the process. Rather than simply interacting as a recipient and listening to audiobooks, you can be part of recording.

LibriVox says, “Volunteering for LibriVox is easy and does not require any experience with recording or audio engineering or acting or public speaking. All you need is a computer, a microphone, some free recording software, and your own voice. We accept all volunteers in all languages, with all kinds of accents. You’re welcome to volunteer to read any language you speak, as long as you can make yourself understood in it. You don’t need to audition, but we do suggest a 1-Minute Test recording just to check your setup. We’ll accept you no matter what you sound like.”

So what does LibriVox actually mean? Well, according to their FAQ’s: “‘LibriVox’ is the sort of name you invent when you don’t know Latin at all. ‘Libri’ means book, and ‘Vox’ means ‘voice’ — so it means: ‘BookVoice.’”

As you explore LibriVox, you can add your voice to the list of readers if you would like. While you can’t read your own books on this site, you can read books that have been released to the public domain.

Is LibriVox Any Good?

In order to adequately answer this question, you have to ask yourself what you are looking for, what your needs are, and how they can be best met. 

If you are looking for a resource that allows you to process information via listening to audiobooks, this may be the best option for you.

However, LibriVox operates entirely from using books that are in the public domain. If you’re looking for old classics, books that are just old in general, this could be a great option. If you are looking to listen to new releases or books that are not yet in the public domain, you will likely be disappointed. 

The new Michael Hyatt book, Bob Goff’s latest release, or any other author who releases a new book is not available through LibriVox. 

LibriVox’s resources and partners consist of most texts being obtained “from Project Gutenberg, and the Internet Archive hosts our audio files (for free!).”

If you’re looking for a site with high standards and a rigorous process individuals must go through before being allowed to record chapters, LibriVox is probably not the site for you. 

However, before writing them off, take a look at their answer: “Our feeling is this: in order for LibriVox to be successful we must welcome anyone who wishes to honour a work of literature by lending their voice to it. Some readers are better than others, and the quality of reading will change from book to book and sometimes from chapter to chapter. But we will not judge your reading, though we may give you some advice if you ask for it. This is not Hollywood, and LibriVox has nothing to do with commercial media’s values, production or otherwise. However: we think almost all of our readings are excellent, and we DO try to catch technical problems (like repeated text etc.) with our Listeners Wanted/prooflistening (sic) stage.”

LibriVox is free, so whether you feel hesitant or want to jump right in, trying it out is a great idea.

As far as contacting LibriVox, the main way to do so is via their forum. The forum has many different topics and many answers. There is not a main contact page where you can email directly. This does appear to be a downfall, however, the forum seems to be widely used and overall quite helpful.

If you have more questions about using LibriVox, there’s a high likelihood they have already been asked and answers have been posted within the forum. You can simply scroll through the forum and find the answers that you need, or search for a direct question and see if it has been answered.

LibriVox also has an entire page dedicated to FAQ’s. The FAQ’s section includes a variety of questions, answers, and overall resources that can help you get started using this free, online, audiobook platform.

Additionally, LibriVox has readers from many languages reading portions of books and this can be extremely helpful. As you browse the website, feel free to search books in different languages. 

If you’re currently learning a new language, LibriVox could be a great addition to your education. Listening to a book read in the language you are attempting to learn can be a great help in familiarizing yourself with the verbiage and providing new contexts for words you are learning. 

How to Use LibriVox

If you click here you will be taken to LibriVox’s main page where you can choose to either volunteer to read for LibriVox or listen to previously recorded material. 

“LibriVox audiobooks are free for anyone to listen to, on their computers, iPods or other mobile device, or to burn onto a CD.”

You can also use the search bar at the upper right hand corner to search a title, author, or reader.

As You Move Forward…

As you move forward in using LibriVox, a good way to start is to find a specific reader you enjoy, as well as a quality book you have been wanting to read.

While you may have high aspirations to read a well-known classic (that could be called a tome instead of a book), starting with something a bit smaller and pairing it with a voice you enjoy listening to may help you accomplish your goal. 

Remember, listening to classics may be a new activity for you. But as writers, it’s important to be well-versed in literature and I have some grasp of the classics. So much can be learned from authors who have gone before, and the ability to listen to such classics on a daily commute is a privilege.

If you are hesitant to listen to old classics, you might want to consider listening to LibriVox on your commute to work and listening to your favorite podcast or band on your way home.

If you’re the type of person who loves audiobooks and will jump at the chance to listen to any book, LibriVox is a great opportunity for you.

No matter where you are at in your journey, remember that writers read. 

Reading does not have to be done in the traditional sense of grabbing a hardback or paperback book, sitting down in the chair, and starting at page one. Reading can be done via listening. Listening to audiobooks can save hours of time, all while furthering your education and your writing goals.

As you try a LibriVox for the first time, be sure to track your progress! You will be amazed at how much content you can go through simply by listening. 

Enjoy!

Whether you decide to give LibriVox a try or continue using a different audiobook platform, enjoy the process. Books are such a valuable addition to society and a big influence on writing itself. Writers read and often, readers write. 

Enjoy listening to books that were published decades ago, and take inspiration as you write your own. 

You never know what might jump out at you or what idea you may find from listening to a public domain book read to you. Ideas can come from anywhere and take you anywhere. Enjoy the process of discovery.

And of course, if you try LibriVox out and enjoy it, leave a comment about your experience and recommend a book or two!

On the other hand, if you decide to read for LibriVox, comment the title that you read so other readers can listen to your work. 

Happy listening! 

Working on an audiobook of your own? Check out this super helpful video:

tbd advanced publishing starter kit

2 Comments

  1. Steven Malone

    Excellent introduction to LibriVox. I have listened to many of their audio books, and enjoyed the experience. I your car can link to a device, it’s a fun way to drive to work or a vacation destination without the ‘burdens’ of commercial radio.

    Reply
  2. Deborah Makarios

    My husband read Henry George’s Progress and Poverty (full title, Progress and Poverty: An Inquiry into the Cause of Industrial Depressions and of Increase of Want with Increase of Wealth: The Remedy for LibriVox. He has a very easy-listening reading voice, if there’s anyone out there who enjoys their economics with a historical flavour.

    It may be worth noting that some of the more famous classics are available on LibriVox in more than one version. So if you don’t cotton to one reader’s rendition of Pride and Prejudice, you can try others.

    Reply

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