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LibriVox is an online digital library of free public domain audiobooks, read by volunteers. In October 2009, it had a catalog of 2,700 unabridged books and shorter works available to download. Around nine-tenths of the collection is in English, although LibriVox recordings are available in 26 languages altogether.

Tending to produce between 60 and 100 audiobooks per month, LibriVox claims to be the world's most prolific audiobook publisher.

History

LibriVox was started in August 2005 by Montrealmarker-based writer Hugh McGuire, who set up a blog posing the question: "can the net harness a bunch of volunteers to help bring books in the public domain to life through podcasting?".

The initial response to this question was positive enough that the first LibriVox recording was made available in MP3 format within a month of the blog going live. It was a recording of Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent, with chapters recorded by McGuire and eleven volunteers who had been attracted by the blog.

In October 2005, LibriVox acquired its own URL (librivox.org), on which McGuire set up a web forum, and the number of volunteers and works made available began steadily to grow. A total of 30 books were recorded and released through the website by the end of the year.

By late 2006, the site was releasing around 30 books per month, and coverage of the project on the Internet and in the traditional press saw the number of volunteers recording for the site move into the hundreds.

By January 2009, over 2,000 LibriVox books and short works had been published, using the voices of over 2,400 volunteers from around the world.

The main features of the way LibriVox works have changed little since its inception, although the technology that supports it has been improved by the efforts of those of its volunteers with web-development skills.

Production process

LibriVox is a volunteer-run, open source, free content, Public Domain project. It has no budget or legal personality. The development of projects is managed through an Internet forum, supported by an admin team, who also maintain a searchable catalog database of completed works.

Volunteers can choose new projects to start, either recording on their own or inviting others to join them, or they can contribute to projects that have been started by others. Once a volunteer has recorded his or her contribution, it is uploaded to the site, and proof-listened by members of the LibriVox community.

Finished audiobooks are available from the LibriVox website, and MP3 and Ogg Vorbis files are hosted separately by the Internet Archivemarker. Recordings are also available through other means, such as iTunes, and, being free of copyright, they are frequently distributed independently of LibriVox on the Internet and otherwise.

Content

LibriVox only records material that is in the Public Domain in the United States, and all LibriVox books are released with a Public Domain dedication. The stated goal of the project is: "...to make all public domain books available, for free, in audio format on theInternet".

The LibriVox catalog is varied. It contains much popular classic fiction (in January 2009, the most downloaded recording was of Thomas Hardy's The Return of the Native), but also includes less predictable texts, such as Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason and a recording of the first 500 digits of pi. The collection also features poetry, plays, religious texts (for example, English versions of the Koran and books from various versions of the Bible) and non-fiction of various kinds.

Because of copyright restrictions, LibriVox produces recordings of only a limited number of contemporary books. These have included, for example, the 9/11 Commission Report.

In January 2009, the catalog contained approximately 55 percent fiction and drama, 25 percent non-fiction and 20 percent poetry (calculated by numbers of recordings).

Around 90 percent of the catalog is recorded in English, but recordings exist in 39 languages altogether (as at October 2009). Chinese, French and German are the most popular languages other than English amongst volunteers, but recordings have also been made in languages including Urdu and Tagalog.

Reputation

LibriVox has garnered significant interest, in particular from those interested in the promotion of volunteer-led content and alternative approaches to intellectual ownership on the Internet.

It has received support from the Internet Archivemarker and Project Gutenberg. Mike Linksvayer, Vice-President of Creative Commons, has described it as "perhaps the most interesting collaborative culture project this side of Wikipedia".

The project has also been featured in press around the world, and has been recommended by the BBC's Click, MSNBC's The Today Show, Wired, the US PC Magazine and the UK Metro and Sunday Times newspapers.

Criticisms

The LibriVox discussion forums regularly include feedback on the site and its contents, including negative comments. A frequent concern of listeners is the site's policy of allowing any recording to be published as long as it is basically understandable and faithful to the source text. This means that some recordings are of less-than-optimum audio fidelity, and some feature background noises, non-native accents or other perceived imperfections in comparison to professionally-recorded audiobooks.

Examples



References



External links

LibriVox site


Articles


LibriVox tools


LibriVox mirrors



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