Free Books

In the line of work I happen to be in, the iPod as an invention is pretty much priceless. I can't really imagine what my life would be like if I had to switch the cd to my discman in between basting and trimming bags and belts. Let alone where I would keep it...Let's just say I am grateful to Steve Jobs for bringing me the tiny and powerful little mP3 player.

And I like music as much as the next guy but when you sew forty hours a week, it's stories and news and talking that pass the time. When we first moved in to our space on 11th street, we found it difficult to listen to npr or talk radio on the stereo because something about the acoustics or the background noise makes it near impossible to follow voices. So I came to rely upon headphones for this purpose. And in turn, on audio books.

Which is how I found Librivox. If you search the internets for free audiobooks it is the first thing to appear on your screen, though that's not what makes it an ingenious concept for a website. The whole thing is fueled by volunteers who read works that have chronologically become public domain, and then post the audio files on the website. In the United States, any work published before 1923 is considered in the public domain. Librivox cites the website gutenberg.org, which houses more than 20,000 free books, as their primary reference for determining a work's status as public or private. Once the books are recorded, they are then catalogued by author and available to download in a variety of formats. The users of the website directly benefit by increased selection, when they themselves contribute to the content of the website. And although online access to audiobooks has been made available through public libraries all over the place, the program most often used by libraries is 100% incompatible with iTunes and mac.

So if like me, you spend a lot of your time doing something like sewing wherein you have a lot of audio downtime, you should peruse the selection at Librivox. It has given me a chance to catch up on some classics, including but not limited to the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, the Secret Garden and Emma. And I just started downloading Ulysses. Springtime has made me ambitious.


  1. Librivox is amazing! Besides having some amazing long-works archived, they have a really great poetry selection. It's especially refreshing to be able to hear different readings of the same poem (if anyone is into that kind of thing). Also, the recordings are uploaded by volunteer readers. Unfortunately, I don't have "one of those voices" and I was never very good at reading out loud, but those who are should add to the collection!
    -nathan (berkeley,ca)

  2. Hi I came across you while looking for something to compliment my article on my blog about Ebooks, I have featured you on there briefly and have popped back for another look. I cross stitch and I am thrilled to find Librivox as I do not watch television at the same time as some do. Thank you