Posted Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Easy Listening: Sources for Free Audiobooks

It's a wet Wednesday. At this time of year, Northern California's rainy season is usually over. Here in Albion (population: 398), this is supposed to be the time of year when we're being buffeted by sustained northwest winds in the 20 to 30 miles-per-hour range as a massive high-pressure system called the Pacific High builds offshore.

The high will have to wait, because it looks like December outside my office. But that's okay. Our house has a well, and more rain now means less chance of rusty water coming out of the faucets in November, at the end of the dry season.

But enough meteorological minutiae. I come bearing a tip courtesy of reader Ron Earl. Ron writes to let me know about audiobooksforfree.com, a Web site that containsówell, the URL says it all, doesn't it?

Audiobooksforfree.com has a vast collection of books that you can download for free or purchase on a CD or DVD. Ron also points out that another source for free audiobook downloads is the vast Project Gutenberg site.

As Ron points out, free audiobooks are usually stored in MP3 format. You may want to use iTunes to convert them to AAC in order to add audio bookmarks with Doug Adams' Make Bookmarkable AppleScript. (This script is included on my book's DVD, as part of an exclusive collection that Doug generously compiled for me.) While I discourage converting one lossy audio format into another, the loss of audio quality is not that significant for spoken-word content.

Thanks for the tip, Ron!

Now listen to this: Want more details on audiobooks, MP3-to-AAC conversions, and adding audio bookmarks to files? You need the latest edition of the planet's top-selling iLife book: 354 gorgeous, full-color pages, and a two-hour, 43-minute instructional DVD. Buy from Amazon if you must, but the Big Jungle is still selling the book at the full retail price. For a 30 percent discount, buy from Barnes & Noble.