Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Resolve to Read More Frugally!

For Christmas, I was given a plaque of a quote of Thomas Jefferson:

It is so, so, so true.  As you may guess, I have books stacked everywhere.  Usually, I am reading more than one book at a time, which can become cumbersome when commuting.  Reluctantly, I have embraced the e-book evolution and have found that I like it!  Going beyond that, though, is the desire to listen to books when I'm mowing, or riding, or doing things which require hands.  

Amazon has purchased the wonderful Audible, and the cost of the Kindle+Audible combo is often less than the cost of the hardback!  Add in the fact that the apps WhisperSync with each other (Audible will pick up where you left off reading on the Kindle, and vice-versa), I've begun buying both, whenever feasible.

Still, that can become an expensive proposition, especially when I want to read the classics.  While browsing through the Audible "stacks" (and suffering sticker shock in the process) for a recording of Sherlock Holmes, my brain tripped over the memory of one of those jewels of the Internet, LibriVox.

Great audiobooks since 2005!
LibriVox is the audio kin of the beloved Project Gutenberg.  Both make public-domain texts available in digital formats:  Gutenberg is text and LibriVox is audio.  Both rely upon volunteers world-wide to transcribe or read texts.

Since 1971, the world's great books
have been available in digital
The sheer variety available on Gutenberg is mind-boggling.  Interested in browsing the classic Dore Gallery of Bible Illustrations on your Kindle?  Download it for free.  The same for 4 different historic Bible translations.  Ditto for The History of Herodotus in English and Greek.  Plain-text as well as e-reader versions are available for many, and both GoogleCloud and DropBox are supported.  In my opinion, this is an example of the noblest use of the Internet.

Now this is all well and good, but, what about my problem this summer, when I wanted to listen to Sherlock Holmes stories whilst bushhogging?  Well, I could have downloaded the text versions and have some text-to-speech app read them to me but, lo and behold, there they were on LibriVox!

I could have downloaded the MP3s onto my phone (which fits nicely into my shirt pocket) for mobile listening, but, even more felicitously, I found a free app for LibriVox in the Google Play store!  It's well-designed, and works seamlessly.  Although my house is fruitless, Google tells me that there is a free LibriVox app in the iTunes store, too.

Admittedly, the quality of the readers is variable, at times, but, given that all readers are volunteers, they are impressive.  Most of the popular titles have multiple recordings to choose from, and, at times, multiple languages, too.

If two of your New Year's resolutions are to 1)be more frugal, and 2)read more, Gutenberg and LibriVox can make both possible!

What about you?  What, and how, are you reading this year?