iPod apps for Librivox

I’ve been a fan of Librivox and Project Gutenberg for years, but until recently I haven’t really been able to take full advantage of their offerings. And now, I can’t seem to get enough. Now that the iPod makes it so damn easy to download both the text and audio, I’ve listened to more classics in the past two weeks than I have in the past two years.

If you think Harry Potter and Twilight are literature, then shove off, clearly we’re not on the same page. Go "Sparkle" elsewhere! However, if you want to involve yourself with real writers like Bram Stoker (who started this whole vampire craze in the first place, just FYI), Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevenson, Poe and hundreds of others then you can download one or two apps, some are free with the biggest price tag being $0.99 and you’re well on your way to some damn fine entertainment. If nothing else, at least you’ll sound wickedly sophisticated when people ask what you’re listening to on your iPod.

So anyway, what do you need to jump on board and enjoy the classics? Here’s a list of apps I’ve been working with that do a great job of downloading text and playing audio.

Readers:

Stanza – Free

Let’s you buy commercial books as well as downloading text from Project Gutenberg. Easy to use and allows you to configure reader options such as background and text color.

Free Books – $0.99

The books are free but the reader is $0.99. Another nice reader which lets you browse and search by author and title. You can also configure the reader with background color and change font options.

Both the above let you hook into the entire Gutenberg library, roughly 100,000 books and growing. I also have both loaded in the Touch and they work great. Very easy to find books and the reader is easy to use.

Many companies have also made standalone apps for dozens of classic books. These are well formatted and contain feature like scrolling text and offer some specialized options. At a price of about $0.99 each it’s hard to say they aren’t worth it. However, once you buy one or two you might be better off with one of the options above.

Audio Books:

This is the real gem of the public domain.

I think Libribox is great and am amazed at the volunteers reading the stories. Now, some are really very good, while some are a little less than stellar. However, the good far outweighs the bad and since this is all being done for free, there is little need to complain.

Audiobooks (Download Edition) – $0.99/Free

I downloaded this one over the weekend and have listened to a couple of books so far. It works extremely well. Pick the title and the narrative begins within a few seconds. As it’s reading you can download the rest of the parts to the device for offline listening. Considering some books may be 300-500MB for all parts you will want to use a WiFi connection. Also comes with timer so you can have it stop after 15, 30, or 60 minutes. It’s an easy to use player that I’m very happy with.

Audiobook Player – $0.99

Another player with very similar features to Audiobooks. Build a queue of books and start the download. They are competing feature for feature so expect these players to keep getting better.

Free Audiobooks – $0.99

From the maker of Free Books, it’s their companion audio player. The interface looks the same as Free Books and lets you download the books for offline listening. It will also download the rest of the chapters as you listen. If it works like their reader it should be straightforward and easy to use.

I venture to say no matter which apps you choose you’ll be happy. They all seem feature rich, easy to use and get updated regularly. I’m extremely happy with the $2 I’ve spent and literally have years worth of reading and listening ahead of me.

If you want to go the super cheap route you can always download the MP3 files from Librivox.org, load them into iTunes and play them in a Playlist. But there’s no fun in that!

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