450 Free Audiobooks

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Here are more audiobooks that you can download for free. Open Culture lists 450 recordings that you can download for no cost. The narrators include authors reading their own work (Paul Auster, Neil Gaiman, Colum McCann, Flannery O’Connor, David Foster Wallace) as well as authors reading other people’s work (Salman Rushdie, Paul Theroux, Jeffrey Eugenides, Jeanette Winterson, Anne Enright, Richard Ford, Philip Pullman, Chang-Rae Lee, Dave Eggers, Jonathan Franzen, Lorrie Moore, Julian Barnes, Tobias Woolf, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Colm Toibin, Orhan Pamuk, Joyce Carol Oates, T. Coraghessen Boyle). There are even a few celebrities mixed in (James Franco, Christopher Walken, Sean Connery).

The full list is here: 450 Free Audio Books: Download Great Books for Free.

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Free Short Stories

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The quality and quantity of short stories available for free download continues to amaze me. You’re missing out on the chance to hear some remarkable tales if you’re not subscribing to the podcasts on this list:

The New Yorker Fiction Podcast

Monthly readings of New Yorker stories by New Yorker authors.

NPR Selected Shorts Podcast

Award-winning series of short fiction read by prominent actors.

Guardian Short Stories Podcast

Episodes featuring an interview with a well known author followed by a reading of one of the author’s favorite stories.

BBC International Short Story Award

Free recordings of the ten shortlisted stories read by popular actors.

The Right Voice Can Send an Audiobook Up the Charts

Last year an article in the Sacramento Bee pointed out what a difference the right narrator can make to the sales of an audiobook. Celebrity narrators make the biggest difference, of course. The example given here is Johnny Depp’s reading of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards’ autobiography, Life. Getting the choice right matters to a publisher since it costs at the very least around $5,000 to produce an audiobook recording.

The rest of the article is an interview with voice actor Robert Petkoff, who narrated David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King. Follow this link for the full piece: “The Right Voice Can Send an Audiobook Up the Charts.”

To Get Some Audiobooks, You’ve Got to Be Blind

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USA Today points out that many titles recorded for blind people have never been heard by anyone else. That’s because US copyright law permits the Library of Congress to produce audio recordings of any published work regardless of whether or not the author gives permission. Hence blind audiences get to hear titles such as JD Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye that aren’t available as commercial audiobooks. You can hardly blame Salinger’s fans for resorting to file-sharing sites in search of bootleg copies of Ray Hagen’s recording of Catcher.

Here’s a link to the USA Today story: “To Get Some Audiobooks, You’ve Got to Be Blind.”