LibriVox – download free audiobooks from the public domain…and you can volunteer to record them too!

A couple days ago my work friend and I were talking about doing voice recordings for podcasts and she told me about LibriVox. Established in 2005, it’s a non-commercial, non-profit and ad-free project run by volunteers and is dedicated to recording and providing audiobooks from the public domain. Anyone (including you!) who wants to record one of these books is welcome to do so. They currently have more than 12 thousand volunteer readers.

Here’s a brief description from their website explaining what they do and how they do it:

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. Please note: Our readers are free to choose the books they wish to record. LibriVox sees itself as a library of audiobooks. Because the books we read are in the public domain, our 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.

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.

Doesn’t this sound fun? I hopped on their website to check it out and found these audiobooks ready for download. I listened to the beginnings of a couple and they sounded good!

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway

Main Street by Sinclair Lewis

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham

So what do you think, would you listen to one of these audiobook versions? You can use a computer or download the app to your phone. Would you volunteer to record a book? Leave a comment!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

34 thoughts on “LibriVox – download free audiobooks from the public domain…and you can volunteer to record them too!

    1. Oh you’re so nice, Donna. And I think I’m going to download one of these books. Now that I know there’s an app to do it from, that makes it easier. Thanks for stopping by – let me know if you try out LibriVox – I’m curious what everyone’s experiences would be. 🙂

  1. I need to try this again. My daughter and I listened to the Hawthorne Tales or maybe it was Greek Myths–13 years ago so I can’t really remember. It was painful. Still, I’m sure there must be amateurs who do a superb job and I shouldn’t judge based on ONE book. Thanks for this reminder.

    1. Yes there’s no guarantee what kind of narration you’re going to get and apparently it could be a different person for each chapter. The first one I tried out was quite professional. The second was good but more just a regular person reading. I only sampled them though…

    1. The public domain refers to books that are no longer protected by copyright laws. They may be used freely, without obtaining permission from or compensating the copyright owner.

  2. Hi Barbara, This sounds like a fun idea. I have to do something for my YT channel. I’ve been short on time lately. I like reading from classics. A variation from this worthy cause but more manageable for me. I have your recommendation, Slaughterhouse Five next on my audio books.

  3. I’ve never listened to a Librivox book, but I have book club friends who swear by it! According to them, the quality really varies (as you’d expect, since the readers aren’t professional narrators), but they say that overall, it’s a great resource. I’m hesitant to try, since I tend to be really picky about audiobook narrators anyway and doubt I’d enjoy listening to amateur recordings… but then again, the idea of actually doing a recording sounds like so much fun! I’d love to hear more about it if you decide to give it a try. Great post!

    1. Hi Lisa – I’ll check it out and report back. The quality of professionally recorded audiobooks is exceptional, so I’m sure the Librivox narrations will vary. It does sound fun recording one! Thank you for stopping by 🙂

    1. Hi Derrick – I do prefer the written word, but have enjoyed the audiobooks I’ve listened to. I haven’t read Mrs. Dalloway yet, but I’ve read The Great Gatsby a few times. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I think I’m too tongue tied to record a book. I come from a family of stutterers. From my experience, the best audio books don’t contain a lot of conversation. When the narrator starts speaking in different voices it’s distracting (at least for me!).

  5. I admit I’ve never listened to an audio book, aside from a few children’s books we listened to in the car during family vacations to help keep the kids quiet (it worked!) I don’t think I could ever read one of my manuscripts, though, because I’m not at all fond of the sound of my own voice!

    1. Hi Ann – I don’t listen in the car much, usually just when I’m walking. As for my own voice – I have a bit of a North Jersey twang, so maybe not everyone would like that!

  6. I fall into Derrick’s camp. I’ve never listened to audio books. I prefer to read the written word, at least while I can still see!😉 Thanks, Barbara!

    1. Hi Jill – I think you would enjoy an audiobook. I was skeptical, but I forced myself to try them out. I help a patron find audiobooks at the library because he doesn’t see well enough to read. He listens to several a week!

    1. Hi Colleen – I like listenening when I’m out for a walk. I also listen when I’m folding laundry. It’s a good option. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. I am obviously not alone in never having listened to an audio book. My dad was blind and had audio tapes (mid 80’s) and some of the readers … Ugh. They weren’t good and probably turned me off to this option but maybe someday. Bernie

    1. Hi Bernie – although I can’t speak for these free audiobook recordings, I think you would be pleasantly surprised by the quality of commercial recordings. They are major productions using professional readers. I’ll be interested in hearing how these recordings are. I tested a couple and one was very good, the other one was okay. Thanks for the visit!

    1. Hi Norah, I haven’t tried it out yet, but I downloaded the app and think I will give it a go soon. I can get free audiobooks at our library too so I have plenty of options! Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

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