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MP3 Audio Books

Now here is a great idea.   Use your portable audio player to store MP3 books and then play them back while you commute to and from work, travel by train or place on business or on holiday.

"Books for the Blind" reinvented !.   Audio books is an old idea and my Grandad for many years had audio tape cassettes delivered each month for him to play and listen to.  He very much enjoyed them and much appreciated the effort made by the readers to record the books.   He was partially blind for many years.   The modern MP3 player has revived the idea and now anyone with a portable MP3 player should consider getting books in MP3 audio book format.  Many come on a CD which you need to copy to your PC and thence to the MP3 player memory.

Amazon sell a few audio books in MP3 format but are difficult to find on their web site.  A possibility is to start with an audio CDs and record it into your MP3 player.

Waterstones (UK bookseller) are planning to increase their output of MP3 books to suit people who have portable MP3 players such as the iPod or Rio Carbon.  The idea was tried out last Christmas and  Waterstones subsequently announced that they are increasing in the number of MP3 books to be made available this year.

The number of audio books available was slow to start but the situation is improving particularly for the MP3 format.   Go to BBC and do search for Audio Book MP3 CD format for the MP3 version of the "Complete Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy",  Bill Bryson's book "Notes from a Big Country" and "The Lost Continent".  There is some reluctance to put out books in MP3 form and the new. "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" book is not planned for downloading and neither are any of the earlier Harry Potter books available in MP3 format.

One line streaming audio.  Some free samples:  is a company that provides for the downloaded of MP3 recorded audio (much of it speech) so that it may initially be recorded on your PC before being transferred to CD or to your player. They have for sale some 40,000 hours of audio programs in stock. Their web site features a variety of comedy, radio programmes, poetry, foreign language training. You can even buy an iPod !.  On 30th May 2006 it was announced that are now selling the Brian Luff bestseller "Sex on Legs", a 75,000 word science fiction thriller as the worlds first audio-only novel.  The novel lasts 5 hours 51 minutes and is priced at 8.99

The audio book market has been growing rapidly since 1999 and looks likely to really take off now that portable MP3 players are being sold in such numbers.  In December, 2004, the Audio Publishers Assn. estimated the size of the audio-book market at $800 million and in early 2005 it was assed by the Wall St Journal as having increased to $900.  This is still only some 5% or so the total book market, so the audio books thing is still in its early days.

Random House have recently released download versions of "The Holy Blood" and "Holy Grail".

Many songs now available for download come with digital rights management (DRM) which limits the use of the files. Amazon is a company that sells DRM-free MP3 music downloads.  They have some two million songs from more than 180,000 artists.  Every song and album on Amazon MP3 is available only in MP3 format without digital rights management (DRM) software. This means that you are free to enjoy the the files using any hardware device, organise your music using your own software and burn songs to CDs. Prices per track are typically around 89 to 99 cents.   The audio encoding is done at 256 kilobits per second, which gives you high quality audio with a manageable file size.  You are free to process the audio further, for example to compress the MP3 to a lower bit rate.

Text to speech processing -  Script coding takes off making MP3 books.   Tell me how you like the idea.  I do wonder sometimes if it might be better to download books in ACSII text (or zip) format and then use a codec to change from text to audio within the player device.  Maybe I should do an audio speech recording about my web site and have that downloadable for those that want to listen and learn offline to information about satellite internet, cycling holidays, downloading MP3 music tracks etc on my web site.  email:  Eric Johnston

Visitor's experience (15 July 2005):  I bought the Rio Carbon after reading your website, but when I tried to find some MP3's to download, most of them seem to be in's proprietary format, which only play on Audible-ready devices.

Visitor comment (24 June 05) : Hi Eric, I just came across your site. Looking good.  I saw your page on audio books and just thought you might like to know that there is a new site just launching called that will be selling MP3 audio books shortly but at the moment concentrates on loads of other speech audio such as comedy, sport, documentaries, poetry, speeches, relaxation etc etc all for download in MP3. Hopefully we'll offer fans of MP3 players and those listening on their PCs something else to listen to.
(updated 22 Aug 2005)
Hi Eric.  I dropped you a note a couple of month's back about my site  saying we were about to launch selling speech audio. We are now up and running with classic audio books, loads of BBC comedy, Doctor Who, The Economist's 'Technology Quarterly' and tons of other stuff from interviews to poetry, relaxation, health and beyond. You don't need any audioVille-ready players as we are totally inclusive. If you can update our listing on your site I'd really appreciate it. Kind regards, Olly.

Here is an example I picked from the site:  "The Restaurant at the end of the Universe" by  Douglas Adams  When all questions of space, time and matter and the nature of being have been resolved, only one question remains - 'Where shall we have dinner?'  The Restaurant at the End of the Universe provides the ultimate gastronomic experience, and for once there is no morning after to worry about.  Running time 6 hours
Macmillan Publishers Ltd Unfortunately not available to customer in USA & Canada.  Anyway there are plenty of other MP3 books to choose from..

► Page created 4 October 2004, amended 14 Sept 2016