|Location||Worldwide (USA based)|
|Size||over 6,244 free audiobooks (31 December 2012)|
|Access and use|
|Circulation||90 new audiobooks per month in 2011|
|Budget||$5,000 per annum|
|Director||Directorless - community shared|
|Staff||3540 contributing volunteers|
LibriVox (various pronunciations are accurate) is an online digital library of free public domain audiobooks, read by volunteers, and it was at one time the world's most prolific audiobook publisher. The LibriVox objective is "to make all books in the public domain available, for free, in audio format on the internet".
By the end of 2012, LibriVox had a catalogue of over 6,244 unabridged books and shorter works available to download and produced on average 89 audiobooks per month. Around ninety percent of the collection is in English, although LibriVox recordings are available in 33 languages altogether.
|“||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 2,400 volunteers. By December 2010, the total was 4,000, using the voices of nearly 4,000 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.
LibriVox is an invented word inspired by Latin words liber (book) in its genitive form libri and vox (voice), giving the meaning BookVoice (or voice of the book). The word was also coined because of other connotations (although not based on proper grammar) as liber also means child and free, independent, unrestricted. As the LibriVox forum says it: "We like to think LibriVox might be interpreted as 'child of the voice', and 'free voice'. Finally, the other link we like is 'library' so you could imagine it to mean Library of Voice."
There has been no decision or consensus by LibriVox founders or the community of volunteers for a single pronunciation of LibriVox. It is accepted that any audible pronunciation is accurate.
Organization and funding
LibriVox is a volunteer-run, 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 catalogue database of completed works.
In early 2010, LibriVox ran a fundraising drive to raise $20,000 to cover hosting costs for the website of about $5,000/year and improve front- and backend usability. The target was reached in 13 days, and so the fundraising ended and LibriVox suggested that supporters consider making donations to its partners Project Gutenberg and the Internet Archive.
In 2012, LibriVox applied for, and received, a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, helping the community to rebuild its technical infrastructure and improving accessibility of the website.
In July 2013, LibriVox started another fundraising hoping to raise $50,000 to cover technical infrastructure additions, ongoing system administration and development costs.
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 Archive. 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.
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 the Internet". 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.
The LibriVox catalogue is varied. It contains much popular classic fiction, 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 translations of the Bible) and non-fiction of various kinds. In January 2009, the catalogue contained approximately 55 percent fiction and drama, 25 percent non-fiction and 20 percent poetry (calculated by numbers of recordings). By the end of 2012, the most downloaded item was a 2007 collaborative recording of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, downloaded a total of 1,408,000 times. The most downloaded solo recording was Moby Dick read by Stewart Wills downloaded 955,948 times.
Around 90 percent of the catalogue is recorded in English, but recordings exist in 31 languages altogether (as of February 2010). 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.
- Novel — Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- Non-fiction — Capital, Volume 1 by Karl Marx
- Poetry — The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
- Drama — The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
- Logic — Prior Analytics by Aristotle
- Children's literature — Children's short works collection
- Spanish — Don Quijote by Miguel de Cervantes
- French — La femme de trente ans by Honoré de Balzac
- Chinese — Lun Yu (The Analects) by Confucius
- Finnish — Rautatie by Juhani Aho
- German — Der Schimmelreiter by Theodor Storm
Reputation and quality
Stewart Wills' 2007 reading of Moby Dick is, as of July 2011, the most praised librivox recording of all their 6 years.
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LibriVox has garnered significant interest, in particular from those interested in the promotion of volunteer-led content and alternative approaches to copyright ownership on the Internet.
It has received support from the Internet Archive 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.
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. While listeners may object to those books with chapters read by multiple readers, others find this to be a non-issue or even a feature.
Other readers are praised by listeners for the quality of their output.
|Reader||Title||Author||First published||LibriVox link||Note(s)|
|Elizabeth Klett||Jane Eyre||Charlotte Brontë||1847||link|
|Ruth Golding||Wuthering Heights||Emily Brontë||1847||link|
|Karen Savage||Pride and Prejudice||Jane Austen||1813||link|
|Kara Shallenberg||The Secret Garden||Frances Hodgson Burnett||1911||link|
|Mil Nicholson||Dombey and Son||Charles Dickens||1848||link|
|Mark F. Smith||Great Expectations||Charles Dickens||1861||link|
|John Greenman||Adventures of Huckleberry Finn||Mark Twain||1884||link|
|Mark Nelson||Right Ho, Jeeves||P. G. Wodehouse||1934||link|
|Adrian Praetzellis||The Thirty-Nine Steps||John Buchan||1915||link|
|Stewart Wills||Moby Dick||Herman Melville||1851||link||Most praised librivox recording|
- Legamus, a European based and similar project focusing on recording text released 1923 and after.
- "Pronunciation of "LibriVox"", LibriVox wiki. Retrieved 21 November 2011.
- "LibriVox reaches 1,000!" Librivox webpage 31 October 2007. Retrieved on 1 June 2010.
- "About LibriVox", LibriVox website. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
- "LibriVox catalog stats". Retrieved 2012-12-31.
- "LibriVox works by month". Retrieved 2012-12-31.
- McGuire, Hugh (9 August 2005). "Welcome to LibriVox". LibriVox.org. Retrieved 20 August 2010.
- McGuire, Hugh (February 12, 2007). "Clarity (blog entry)". HughMcGuire.net. Retrieved 2009-01-09.
- "What does LibriVox mean?", LibriVox forum, retrieved 29 September 2013.
- "LibriVox Needs Your Help", LibriVox blog, 24 February 2010. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
- "100 Million Dowloads and a Mellon Foundation Grant", LibriVox blog, 5 April 2012. Retrieved 11 April 2012.
- Hugh McGuire. "LibriVox Needs Your Help", librivox.org, 3 July 2013. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
- "LibriVox homepage". Retrieved 2009-01-09.
- "Welcome to The LibriVox Free Audiobook Collection", The Internet Archive. Retrieved 31 December 2012.
- Linksvayer, Mike (June 2, 2008). "LibriVox: 1500 public domain audio books (blog entry)". Retrieved 2009-01-09.
- "Quality of Delivery?", Librivox forums. Retrieved 22 November 2011.
- "The Return of the Native Audiobook (Librivox)", Review. Retrieved 22 November 2011.
- "On the absence of ratings at LibriVox", Review 2 May 2010. Retrieved 22 November 2011.
- "Librivox - free audio books", Review. Retrieved 22 November 2011.
- "Librivox (free audio books)", Review January 09, 2009. Retrieved 22 November 2011.
- "Librivox", Review October 1, 2008. Retrieved 22 November 2011.
- "My Favorite LibriVox Readers", Review 12 March 2010. Retrieved 22 November 2011.
- "Happy Birthday Librivox !", librivox.org, 31 July 2011. Retrieved 16 October 2011.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to LibriVox.|
|Wikinews has related news: May 2006 Interview with LibriVox founder Hugh McGuire|
- LibriVox site
- Xeni Tech story from NPR's Day to Day, "Amateur Audio Books Catch Fire on the Web"
- Reason Magazine: The Wealth of LibriVox (May 2007)
- LibriVox tools
- LibriVox mirrors