I’m just not quite desperate enough to listen to these Audiobooks right now
I listened to an audiobook once long ago, a cassette of some borderline pulp novel that I’d borrowed from the library for a long road trip up the middle of California. Here in Paris, I don’t have a car (most Parisians don’t), but I spend plenty of time on (or waiting for) buses and subways. If I tried to read a book or anything in my phone, I’m sure I’d miss all my stops and also barf. So I decided to try Audiobooks, which lets you download recordings of public domain books for free.
OK, so what did I expect from free audiobooks? I’m sure the volunteers who recorded them are nice and generous people, but you don’t want to hear an 18th-century French literary classic read by someone who sounds like his night job is in a Vegas drag review that’s heavy on the feathers and sequins. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! Just a minor congruity issue. I then tried a 19th-century American classic that was read by a clearly depressed middle-aged woman from the Midwest with an adenoid problem. I lasted one sentence each. I guess if the readers don’t sound like Kenneth Branagh or Emma Thompson, I can’t hack it. (There’s a reason why they call the pros “voice talent.”)
That said, there are over 5,000 books available through this app, in around 20 languages. I listened to a chunk of a French classic and the woman reader did have a nice voice. You also have the option to by “higher quality Plus” versions of some (the titles in green below), but they don’t say if it’s the same reader (there was a Plus version of the book read by feather diva guy). Maybe it’s the same recording with some (much needed) professional sound editing, which may or may not be enough. You can search books by multiple criteria, which is nice. You can delete the book files from your library once you’re done so they don’t use up your whole phone.
I’m going to hang on to it just because I have 21 hours of air travel coming up in November. I should have enough time to find a voice I can stand. But if not, I’ll just read one of the 30 or so e-books I downloaded for free onto my iPad from Project Gutenberg.