Home Artificial Intelligence AI-Powered Open Audiobooks

AI-Powered Open Audiobooks

by Miguel Guhlin
AI audiobooks

Looking for your next book? Or are you an audiobook afficionado? You don’t need to wait for an Audible performance to listen to your favorite classics. The Project Gutenberg (PG) Open Audiobook Collection has made its debut, and now, you’ll find a wealth of audiobooks powered by Microsoft AI on various platforms! These AI audiobooks boast an audio version of public domain e-books. But before jumping into all the details, let’s step back a moment. Project Gutenberg has a 50 year history of volunteers digitizing texts.

What is Project Gutenberg (PG)?

Project Gutenberg offers free e-books. Their collection is over 70,000 strong, and includes the world’s great literature. It also includes books for which U.S. copyright has expired.

Stories of Grit by Archer Wallace in Project Gutenberg with a list of various e-book formats for download.
Screenshot by the Author: Project Gutenberg, Stories of Grit by Archer Wallace

You may have missed the word “free” before, so let’s clarify that these e-books are without cost to you, and you can read these on a variety of devices. That’s because their books are in common formats, such as ePub, Amazon Kindle, and HTML. That’s right, HTML is the language of the web, and you can read books via your web browser.

Some PG links to get your started:

The Project Gutenberg (PG) Open Audiobook Collection

The website characterizes the Microsoft and PG collaboration in this way:

Project Gutenberg and Microsoft have worked together. They have created create thousands of free and open audiobooks. They used new neural text-to-speech technology and the large open-access collection of e-books.

This project aims to make literature more accessible to (audio)book-lovers everywhere. It seeks to democratize access to high quality audiobooks.

(adapted from source)

The books are accessible via several audio sources, including:

You can browse the collection online, as well. Browsing the collection yields an alphabetical list of audiobooks.

The Internet Archive's listing of the Project Gutenberg Open Audiobook Collection
Screenshot by the Author: Internet Archive, Project Gutenberg Open Audiobook Collection

A quick note about audio quality and its reception among listeners. Of course, you will want to judge the storytelling ability of AI voice.

Audio Quality of Project Gutenberg Audiobooks

Since PG relies upon Microsoft AI reading of texts, it’s worth taking a moment to assess the audio. For example, compare these acoustical renderings of a favorite text of mine:

Since Nick Offerman (e.g. Parks and Recreation, Last of Us) reads the Audible version, you’ll find the audio rich. Once you start listening to the sample Audible makes available, you may not want to stop. That aside, the AI version in the Open Audiobook Collection was quite good, smooth and full of youth. The story captivated me, and the AI reading did not get in the way. And, that is amazing given it’s Microsoft AI voice.

Bonus Tool: LibriVox Recordings (No AI Audiobooks Here)

Now that you know about Project Gutenberg, allow me to doff my hat to LibriVox .

LibriVox's Advanced Search by Genre/Subject Page showing the author browsing children's fiction on the LibriVox site.
Screenshot by the Author: LibriVox’s Advanced Search by Genre/Subject Page

Since August, 2005, LibroVox has offered free public domain audiobooks. LibriVox terms these readings of public domain texts “acoustical liberation of books in the public domain.” Real people read the texts and quality varies per the reader. Some are quite richly read with a convincing timber and resonating authenticity.

Unlike Chirp or Audible books that you have to pay for, LibriVox’ library of content is available at no cost and includes texts from Project Gutenberg. The famous Internet Archive hosts the audio files.

LibriVox's summary, audiobook chapters, and available downloads of The Adventures of Peter Cottontail
Screenshot by the author: LibriVox, The Adventures of Peter Cottontail

Some LibriVox recordings to enchant your ears:

Now that you’ve had a chance to learn more about Project Gutenberg, explore LibriVox. It’s time for the new!

AI-Powered, Open Audiobooks

Be sure to check out these AI-powered audiobooks in this Open Audiobook Collection by Project Gutenberg. And, explore the LibriVox recordings! Let us know what you think in the comments.

Featured Image Attribution: Screenshot by author: https://marhamilresearch4.blob.core.windows.net/gutenberg-public/Website/index.html

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