I love my new RCA Lycos Mp3 player but am finding that listening to the same dozen songs over and over again is getting, dare i say it, boring. A friend turned me on to audio books and now I’m eager to listen to more, but I can’t afford $25-$40 per book! Are there places I can get free or really cheap audio books?
I know exactly what you’re talking about with audio books on these little Mp3 players – I listen to audio books just about every day while I’m walking to my office. Indeed, new mp3 players like the Microsoft Zune, with it’s reputed wifi features, is going to be ideal for downloading audio content directly onto the device!
The problem is, well, yes, audio books are darn expensive, really pretty puzzlingly so. I know that the production price on audio disks is well under $1/disk so why shouldn’t a four CD audio book cost $15 rather than $40? Ah, the great mystery of modern pricing.
As a result, one place you can get free audio books is the wild and dangerous world of peer to peer networks, also known by the names of the programs that people commonly use to access these networks, including Limewire and Bittorrent. But here’s the rub: just about every single thing you’d find out there is going to be illegal, illegal to have made available and certainly illegal to download and enjoy. Proceed with caution.
An interesting alternative is your public library. I bet that they have a pretty good selection of books on tape and, to a lesser extent, books on CD, which you can then rip and copy onto your Lyra or other mp3 player (think “Apple iPod” here). Legal? Well, if it’s for your personal use, one time, I think it’s within the original vision of public lending libraries, personally.
A third place you can find audio content is the very cool site Librivox, which has a small but growing collection of fan-recorded public domain books from the Gutenberg Project. Here’s a sampling of some of their available free audio books you might check out:
- “Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan
- “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll
- “The Secret Agent” by Joseph Conrad
- “The Prince” by Niccolo Machiavelli
- “Treasure Island” by Robert Lewis Stevenson
- “Walden” by Henry David Thoreau
- “War of the Worlds” by H. G. Wells
- “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde
Finally, don’t forget eBay, where there’s a thriving market on used audio books from the expensive self-help items to the tawdriest romance and thriller.
Hope that helps you enjoy your RCA Lyra a bit more!