There’s a new free app for the iPhone called Audiobooks that connects you to 1800 public domain recordings, mostly of classic books. [TUAW]


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  1. wheresmymind says:

    This app is based on the librivox project (, which is pretty cool in itself. You can both download the files off their website, and volunteer to make your own recordings of public-domain books to add to the project.

    • thebigbluecheez says:

      @wheresmymind: I was just coming to the comments to find out where the rest of us might be able to access these books, and there you are! Thanks for the tip! Sadly, however, it took me 4 tries to type it correctly.

  2. WelcomeToMyWorld says:

    These books that IPhone offers are all over 70 years old, and some are hundreds of years old. I go to my public library – in Pittsburgh we have a great one called Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – and get brand new best-selling authors’ audiobooks. Fiction, non-fiction, humor, autobiography, opinion, politics, you name it.

    Bring the audiobook home, rip it in your Windows Media Player or whatever player you use, and burn it on a disk or load it onto your IPhone, MP3 player, Walkman or whatever. This is not stealing, any more than checking a book out of the library is stealing.

    Personally I play audiobooks in my car stereo CD player, but others listen on their MP3 players while they’re out walking or whatever. It’s a great way to keep up with literature & politics when you don’t have time to read.

    By the way once you’ve ripped the audiobook in your computer you can return it to the library so other people can use it too.

    If you’re too lazy to rip your own audiobooks, some libraries offer downloadable books that you can use for free but they prevent you from burning them on CDs, etc. Again these are current bestsellers, not the out-of-copyright books that are the only selections available on IPhones offering.

    • James Sumners says:

      @Harry Pothead: It is “stealing” in the sense that you are violating the copyright. Just because your local library loans you a book, in any form, doesn’t mean they can grant you the right to copy it. Fair use in copying would be a couple of pages for a research project, not the whole thing for your leisure.

      Also, just because a book is old, and in the public domain, doesn’t necessarily mean it is bad. I’m not a fan of all of them myself, but there are some really good books in the public domain (Treasure Island, woo!).

    • 2 replies says:

      @Harry Pothead:
      “This is not stealing, any more than checking a book out of the library is stealing.”

      Your post is in need of an “IANAL” heading.
      In DIRE need.

    • Ratty says:

      @Harry Pothead: Yeah, that is pretty blatantly theft.

      • greenunicorns says:


        WHOA — it is NOT theft; it is copyright infringement, and they are two COMPLETELY different things.

        Do NOT confuse the two. Just because he make a copy he is not allowed to, it doesn’t mean he’s doing anything remotely wrong ethically.

        Copyright law is way out of wack, and needs to be fixed. The whole effing point of copyright laws are to prevent people collecting profits on other people’s work. In all fairness, if I have a device on which I want to listen to something, and the publisher doesn’t care enough about the consumer to provide the copyrighted work in the proper format. SCREW them. They can either adapt to the customer’s needs, or the customer can help himself.

        Personally, I buy pretty much all the copyrighted works I ‘consume’ and rarely make copies, and it pisses me off horribly when I can’t get the works I want in the format I want. There is NO technical reason why I should not be able to. It is a CRIME that the copyright holders are holding these works hostage because they can’t figure out a profitable way to distribute in multiple formats.

        Shame on you Ratty for thinking that it is stealing.

        Book/Record/Movie publishers have NO ethical right to keep works (that they didn’t even create) from consumers (who are often quite willing to pay) for DECADES just because they haven’t quite worked out the most lucrative way to sell them.

        If you are a reader of the Consumerist, you damn well better understand that publishers are your enemies. Everything they do is to SQUEEZE every last dime out of a work until it is a cheap husk of what it should have been. The world would be a much better place if copyright law were ethical. It is not. And you are brainwashed into believing that making a copy is tantamount to stealing.

        • Xerloq says:

          @greenunicorns: Almost.

          Copyright exists to encourage individuals, companies, etc. to create new works and contribute to society by allowing them to collect profits for a limited time after which anyone could use that idea to create additional works continuing society’s betterment – at least that was the original intention to my understanding.

          The idea is people will create and produce works that contribute to the betterment of society if they know they’ll get paid. If they don’t get paid they would stop creating, hurting everyone as a result.

          Where we’ve gone awry is with the notion that ideas are property, and that the original owner is the owner in perpetuity, preventing anyone from using ideas to create derivative works.

          Another challenge is whether or not infringement is stealing, the argument being that an infringer is robbing the copyright holder of the opportunity to profit from their works. The interesting question is whether something that is infinitely available can be stolen? I would say no. This has given rise to the ever lengthening terms granted to copyright holders and other restrictions designed to artificially create scarcity, because something of finite supply can be stolen.

          Just because it is easy to copy works doesn’t mean it’s ethical or not stealing. If you believe that, you’ve missed the point of copyright altogether.

          That said, I believe copyright’s terms should be limited to seven years or less, and after that, it’s public domain.

    • PDX909 says:

      @Harry Pothead:

      Sad thing is that there’s a whole generation of people out there that don’t see that there’s an issue with taking something for nothing.

      Yeah, it’s theft, plain and simple.

  3. Rachael Hubbard says:

    Thanks for the tip. :) This will totally come in handy on roadtrips this summer.

  4. crunchberries says:

    Thanks for informing us, Chris. I’ve downloaded the app and am trying it out right now. It seems to work pretty well so far.