Ever wish you could turn student-created ePub files into narrated audio books? Or make any ePub into an audio book? You can on your Windows 10 computer, by taking advantage of the Freda ebook’s built-in audio reader. Before we go through the process, let’s take a moment to revisit how you can create an ePub-formatted ebook for free.
Creating ePub Formatted eBooks
Use Google Docs as an easy tool to create an ePub-formatted ebook as I shared in this blog entry. EPUB is the most widely-supported file format for publishing accessible documents and digital books, allowing people to consume long-form content in their preferred apps on a diverse range of screen sizes and devices, including smartphones, tablets, and ereaders.
To make it easier for authors, publishers, and academic institutions to create works that can be consumed digitally, they now offer the ability to export Google Docs files as EPUB publications. Simply go to the File menu > Download as > EPUB Publication (.epub) (Source). Now that you know how to use Google Docs as an ePub creation tool, we’re ready for the fun stuff.
Get a Free eBook Reader for Windows 10: You can use the Freda app on Windows 10 to read any non-digital rights management (DRM) ePub ebook. Free Reader, or Freda for short, provides a wide variety of options that include reading EPUB books, changing type size, font, spacing, margins, layout and color scheme, along with being able to customize the controls and gestures. You can also add bookmarks along with highlighting and annotating sections of text. The application allows you to search for words or phrases within a book, and to search online for definitions, translations (great for those wanting to learn a second language), and information related to any text element you may select.
Free Ebook Reader and Audio Recorder
First, save your Google Doc file as an ePub file on your computer. Then, open the file using Freda ebook reader. Once the file is open, have Freda read the file to you.
When you first ask Freda to read an ebook to you, you will see the following. You will want to choose READ ALOUD:
You can choose several voices (Microsoft David, Zira, or Mark) when having Freda read the ebook to you, as shown below:
Try out the different voices to see which you prefer. Further below, I will share how you can get additional voices for your Microsoft installation.
What Audio Recorder Should I Use?
Use Audacity. Per their website, “It is a free, easy-to-use, multi-track audio editor and recorder for Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux and other operating systems. The interface is translated into many languages. You can use Audacity to record live audio, record computer playback on any Windows Vista or later machine, and edit sound files.”
The next question to consider is how to record Freda reading the ebook to you. To accomplish that, you’ll need to get the free, open source audio editor Audacity. Once you have it installed on your Windows 10 computer, you will need to adjust some of its settings by putting in the preferences as shown below:
Make sure to change the Recording settings to ENABLE “Sound Activated Recording.” That way, you can turn on Audacity and have it record once you turn on Freda to read aloud.
This will allow you to record audio from your Windows 10 computer as the Freda ebook reader reads the book aloud to you. Here’s what that looks like:
Wait, what if I have a PDF that I want read aloud?
If you have a PDF document that needs to be read, find your way to the Natural Readers website. Using their free voices for unlimited reading time, you can have it read a PDF to you at no cost. Use Audacity as shown above to record the audio from the Natural Readers reading of your PDF book.
Add More Voices to Windows 10
Are Microsoft’s voices for David, Zira, and/or Mark not getting it done for you? There are many more you can add on, including in other languages. Here’s a short list:
Text-to-Speech languages and voices available in Windows
|Language (Region)||Windows 10 and Windows 8.1||Windows 8||Name||Gender|
|Chinese (Hong Kong)||Y||N||Tracy||Female|
|Chinese (People’s Republic of China)||Y||Y||Huihui||Female|
|English (United States)||Y||Y||Zira||Female|
|English (United States)||Y||Y||David||Male|
|English (Great Britain)||Y||Y||Hazel||Female|
How to Add a Voice
Want to add more languages and voices? You can follow the steps outlined on this Microsoft Help page. One easy way to get started involves you going to your Windows 10 Start button (the Windows flag icon in the bottom left-hand corner of your screen), then going to Settings (represented by the gear icon). Select Time & Language. Then, go to Region & Language to add a language (e.g. Spanish), then go to Speech to select your default voice. There may be a slight delay as Microsoft adds a language to your computer. On my SurfaceBook, the process took about five to ten minutes. Speed may depend on your internet connection.
Final Tips for Moving from Google Docs to Audio Book
Here are some final tips to keep in mind before you start recording. Freda ebook audio reader will turn itself off if it detects no one is there. So be sure to do the following:
- Make sure to turn off your screensaver.
- Disable your power off for display (it’s OK if you turn off a computer monitor), hard drive, or internet connection. This will have the same effect as telling Freda that you’re not there listening and it will shut down.
- Press the RECORD button in Audacity before switching over to Freda to tell it to start the read aloud.
You can continue to use your computer, just be sure not to play any other audio or it will be recorded. If you don’t want to listen to the audio read aloud while you are working, you can turn off your speaker using the Volume Mixer.