LibriVox Needs Your Help

Posted on February 24, 2010 by | Posted in about LibriVox, News, Uncategorized | Comments: 144 Comments on LibriVox Needs Your Help

UPDATE: We’ve reached our objective. Thank you everybody! More info here.

Dearest LibriVox listeners, volunteers, & supporters:

For four-and-a-half years, LibriVox volunteers have been making audiobooks for the world to enjoy, and giving them away for free. We’ve made thousands of free audiobooks that have been downloaded by millions of people; our site gets 400,000 visitors every month. To date, all our costs have been borne by a few individuals, with some generous donations from partners. However, these costs have become too big.

See below to FIND OUT HOW TO DONATE (Or, keep reading!).

LibriVox needs your help.

We’re asking for donations for the following:

  • to cover hosting costs for our website (about $5,000/year)*, which includes:
    • the site you are reading now;
    • the forum;
    • the wiki;
    • the catalog;
    • a whole lot of back-end software to host and process audio before it goes to the Internet Archive
    • but does NOT include hosting audio files which is done by
  • to redesign the site and improve its accessibility
  • to make the LibriVox catalog easier for listeners to use
  • to make the management software easier for admins to use

We expect this fund-raising drive to sustain us for three years at least.

Your donation will support the work of our volunteers.

Our fundraising goal is $20,000. After we reach it, we’ll shut down our fundraising campaign. And we hope we can make it another 4.5 years without having to bother you again!


  1. Visit the Internet Archive donation page (the Internet Archive, a registered US charity and friend of LibriVox, is managing our fundraising campaign)
  2. Select a donation method** (, Paypal, or Check)
  3. Be sure to write: “Donation for LibriVox” along with your donation (otherwise we won’t get the donation!)
  4. Don’t forget to write: “Donation for LibriVox” along with your donation!

*NOTE: From our great sysadmin Dan, regarding server costs:
For a variety of reasons, we require a full dedicated server, or at least a very high-end VM with several hundred GB of storage. Though we don’t host the files for end-user download, we do provide an uploading service which book contributors use to share individual chapters and other similar things.

Combine that with lots of wordpress/phpBB modifications, and pretty high wordpress/phpBB traffic, and we fill up a server pretty fast.

In short: Hundreds of GB storage + ~1800 gigabytes Internet transfer per month + heavy MySQL usage adds up to a pretty expensive server or high-end VM. Note that none of this includes projected growth, we will need more resources soon, and that’s also a factor in the dollar amount Hugh mentioned.

I’d also like to point out that the figure does not cover sysadmin support. I work for free. And my job is a lot harder when I have to deal with an intermediary sysadmin, which some hosting companies force upon you. Where we are right now, I myself am root.

**NOTE: From the Internet Archive (who is kindly administering this campaign for us): Please reassure your donors that we do not sell our mailing list nor send unsolicited mail out.



  1. Liz says:

    Just donated, because you have brought me so much over the years, keep up the good work

  2. If you have a Twitter account, TWEET THIS! If you have a Facebook account, ADD THIS TO YOUR UPDATES! Find chickichicki on Twitter and RETWEET! We can do this!!!!!!

  3. Jan Baker says:

    I was on the Paypal screen to make a small donation when I realized that there is no assurance anywhere in your explanatory screens that promises that you will not sell or give my email address to any other organization. Since this practice is so wide-spread, I canceled my donation. My upstairs neighbor receives literally thousands of mailings a year based on a small number of donations. I can’t bear that in my inbox.

  4. Y2K says:

    Jan Baker makes an excellent point. I used to help several charities until I read “the fine print” and discovered they assumed they had the right to share my contact information with other charities because I participated with their fund raising efforts. I have been inundated with requests, both telephone and direct mail from many, many charities and it has lasted for several years. Librivox needs to raise this money, but we must ensure the privacy needs of the contributors. Hugh?

  5. JessicaLouise says:

    I gave just because I love recording so very much and I want the site to be even better than it is. Thanks for asking for help!

  6. hugh says:

    @y2k @janbaker: I will confirm with Internet Archive, who is managing this for us, but I am certain they do not sell email addresses; nor solicit.

  7. Andy Minter says:

    I’ll cerainly donate but I just wonder is there any way UK librivoxers can arrange for LV to take advantage of the charity tax rebate?

  8. hugh says:

    @andy, i doubt it highly : (

  9. Derick says:

    My wife and I thoroughly enjoy librivox, and have downloaded dozens of titles. Eventually both of us will be volunteering to read. I support your efforts and want to see this sustain.

    However, I want to know what the $20,000.00 will go toward. If librivox has been self-supporting thus far, what is the need for funding.

    Not trying to be cynical, but certainly want to know where my money will be going.

    Thank you very much.

  10. LibriVox Admin Team says:


    We’re asking for donations for the following:

    * to cover hosting costs for our website, including: the site you are reading now; the forum; the wiki; the catalog; but NOT including the audio files which are hosted by
    * to redesign the site and improve its accessibility
    * to make the LibriVox catalog easier for listeners to use
    * to make the management software easier for admins to use

    To date, all our costs have been borne by a few individuals, with some generous donations from partners. However, these costs have become too big.

  11. hugh says:

    Also note, the 20k is to take us 3-4 years out.

  12. Janie No. 5 says:

    Donated! I’m glad to be able to help – looking forward to the next 3-4 years!

  13. Barry says:

    I have sent donation via Paypal. Just want to remind everyone to be sure to write the “Donation for Librivox” when you donate. Very easily overlooked but very important!!!

  14. johnnyd says:

    To help broaden the funding base, let’s negotiate a trade with NPR and put a famous actor and actress on a 60sec PSA driving the public to the librivox donation page.

    If my local NPR station can raise $200k in a one-day begathon, I bet one spot a day in the ten top markets for a week will take care of this in a snap.

  15. Éva Harnik says:

    I have just written a check for 100$ and sending it to Internet archives, endorsed
    for Librivox.
    Also,shortly, I am planning to resume recording, which I have found profoundly
    satisfying, not in the leas beceause of the contact with your wonderful staff.
    regards, éva

  16. Éva Harnik says:

    I have just written a check for 100$ and sent it to Internet archives endorsed
    for Librivox.
    Shortly I will resume recording, which I have found immensely rewarding, not in the
    least because of your wonderful staff.
    Regards, Éva

  17. Emily says:

    wow! i love librivox, and although the site interface has improved lots over the past few years, i’d love to see it even more accessible. thank you to the people who keep this site going, it’s a brilliant thing to get to listen to all theses books for free. it’s definitely a worthwhile donation.

  18. EC says:

    For those worried about privacy and not getting inundated with emails from charities–I have donated through Just Give before, and had no problems with this.

  19. Robin Balmer says:

    As an occasional reader and long-time listener (running through the excellent recording of Moby Dick right now) I must say I appreciate the frankness and simplicity of your asking for donations – I can only spare a little, but this service means a lot to me. I’ve shared the message with friends, too. Thanks for all you do!

  20. roger says:

    Why not just ask for volunteers to help redesign the web site? Instead of 20K make it community…

  21. hugh says:

    @roger the 20k is mostly for the $5k/year hosting cost, and will keep the lights on for 3 years, leaving $5k for other bits and pieces of work we’d like done, that have been difficult to achieve just with volunteers.

  22. Jacques says:

    This is to confirm that your e-mail address and other personal information is not sold by Internet Archive nor it is used for our own purposes. Should you have any question please contact me directly at: Internet Archive is managing the receipt of the funds on behalf of LibriVox. Please visit our site and see the link for LibriVox in our audio collection.

    Jacques Cressaty, Dir. of Admin. Internet Archive

  23. John Greenman says:

    I’ve been wondering when a fundraiser would be needed. AMAZING you’ve been able to hold off so long!
    I’m gladly contributing and you might suggest to all the “eBay” and Amazon sellers of LV works, that they chip in a bit too!!
    I’m routinely asking those who re-package my Twain works to contribute to

  24. Tony says:

    I would love to donate. Are donations tax deductible? I’ll give something either way.

  25. Greeley says:

    I’ll be happy to make a contribution after payday. But I was curious about the hosting costs–5K per year seems kind of steep in today’s VM environment (I’m a web sysadmin who specializes in host management, WordPress, SMF, Ubuntu, etc.)

    If that figure includes dedicated IT support, that’s more than reasonable… but if it’s just hosting, seems a bit high.

  26. Frac says:

    Another option for people concerned about email privacy – use a service like

    I have used them for years and highly recommend them. Once set up, it lets you create new email addresses on-the-fly.

    By default, after receiving 5 emails using the email address, all further emails get deleted. It’s highly configurable, though.

    There are many similar services.

  27. I wrote to you some time ago asking exactly what is required in order tto read for librivox. I have been reading in a studio in New Haven, CT. called RFB&D…Reading for the Blind and Dyslexic. The organization has decided to close this studio due to cost cutting measures, and there are many of us who would still like to contribute to this cause. The problem is that the closet studios are now in New York and Boston. Since I have been volunteering for this organization, I thought that your audiobooks would be a smooth transition. All I need is some direction on how to proceed with this venture.
    Thank you for your kind attention,
    Molly Dinneen

  28. I agree, the hosting costs sound exorbitantly high. Your bandwidth requirements should be relatively low, considering that your audio files are hosted elsewhere. I would think you could get some of the hosting costs donated anyway. Do you have any reports showing what the load on the site is actually like?

    And there are plenty of people who would rather donate time to helping redesign the site or develop the management software. You might want to post it on so that people can be made aware of your needs and volunteer to help.

  29. hugh says:

    @tony: yes, tax deductible in the usa.

  30. qubodup says:

    5000/y for forum, wiki and blog? These are not pure hosting costs, are they?

  31. Alana says:

    I made a small donation! Recording audio is my favorite hobby!

  32. hugh says:

    @Greeley @qubodup: we get about 400,000 visits a month, most of which do some heavy querying of our somewhat hacked-together, and probably-not-optimized catalog database.

    And there is a whole bunch of back-end software for uploading and processing of audio *before* we ship it finally to Internet Archive for public consumption.

  33. DebraLynn says:

    When I went to donate, I’m sure I DID see a notice saying that my information would not be used for any other purpose. I used PayPal. I don’t remember the precise wording, but I do remember reading it.

    Anyway, Hugh, glad to help out. I’m sure I’ve gotten more than my money’s worth from LibriVox over the years.

    Will you be posting a chart showing how much we’ve raised so far?

  34. CuriosityCat says:

    400k visitors? Couldn’t ad placement help offset costs?

  35. DebraLynn says:

    Oh no. Please do not put ads on the site. I would much rather contribute money every few years than to have this site cluttered up with ads of any kind. That’s my 2 cents worth of opinion, anyway. :)

  36. Trabb's Boy says:

    Happy to donate. This is a wonderful thing you do.

  37. jluna says:

    I agree with the other posters that $5k in hosting costs is pretty expensive given how competitive virtualized hosting has become. For example, you can get a VPS server from slicehost that can easily handle that kind of traffic for $100/month. Also, there’s always “the cloud”, which charges by bandwidth and CPU cycle. I would recommend rackspacecloud for cloud hosting. I’ve personally used both of those hosting services, and I highly recommend both.

    As someone else mentioned, it’s very likely that you can get hosting donated. I’ve seen several non-profit organizations that get hosting donated by a hosting company.

    Hmm, I was looking to see if SharkSpace (your current hosting provider) ever donates hosting services, and I found an article that said sharkspace donates the hosting services for Perhaps that has since changed? I also did a little more research and there are at least 6 other websites that share your ip address, so it’s definitely a shared hosting plan. A shared hosting plan really should be pretty inexpensive. Are the additional costs due to paying an administrator? Perhaps there are volunteer administrators out there.

    Also, I agree with roger that the community may be able to volunteer with the redesign as well. As a software developer, I would be happy to volunteer some time.

  38. Lucy_k_p says:

    I love Librivox and am happy to contribute. LV has given me so much, both listening to and creating audiobooks are amazing things to do. And I consider the work LV does to be so amazingly valuable.
    (And I used the work I do with LV as an example of meeting goals in a job interview today, so I owe them for that as well.)

    £100 pounds (that’s $154) in the pot.

    And I agree, no ads!

  39. Vandermast says:

    Donated $40. Give us a running total, folks, so we can cheer it on! :)

  40. Holly says:

    I can’t give much but will give what I can. Librivox is a wonderful site that has made my life more beautiful. Thankyou.

  41. Joey says:

    I have proclaimed your site far and wide! What a wonderful place to get books to listen to while I travel from job to job I spend a lot of time behind the wheel thank you! thank you! thank you! Donation forthcoming.

  42. Seena says:

    I just donated some money to Librivox, and I’m so glad I did!!!! I can’t thank you enough for the countless hours of listening pleasure I get from this incredible site!

  43. Mark says:

    Just made my donation, in tribute to Librivox & more particularly to Cori Samuel/Ravenotation, whose fine reading of Stein’s “Tender Buttons” first led me to Librivox.

  44. Bethany says:

    I’ve listened to hundreds of hours of Librivox recordings (and recorded a few myself). Thank you to Hugh and the all the volunteers for this incredible resource! Donating, and spreading the word…

  45. bj says:

    LibriVox is an endeavor much worth supporting with treasure as well as time.

  46. bj says:

    PS: I love the idea of adding a tribute to readers. I made my donation already, but if I’d remembered, I’d have given a call out to Karen Savage, and her reading of Rilla of Ingleside.

  47. Lushnam says:

    I have a question and some comments.

    I love the idea of donating to LibriVox, and I probably will. However, it does seem that the current expenses in one or more areas could be cut some.

    How much money is being paid out for the forum? You could really get one/some just as nice, if not a lot better, for free. Anyway, I would highly recommend looking into the following website’s services:

    I’ve used this place for years now. They don’t have ads. You can backup your forums in XML files (so this is insurance against any worries you have about Nabble going under—I seriously doubt if it will, though). You can embed forums in other sites. You can customize them. There are lots of different views. Nabble listens to suggestions from users. You can have sub-forums, private forums, categories, etc. Forums also double as emailing lists for users that want to use them that way (i.e. you can post and reply through email, as well as get posts through email). Forums have RSS feeds. Nabble doesn’t spam you—I could probably count the emails I’ve gotten from them, aside from subscriptions to forums and stuff like that on one hand. Nabble doesn’t have restrictions on how many forums you can have or anything like that. The site is fast, too—so you don’t have to worry about lag, except on very rare occasions. Users can have avatars. Anyway, it’s one of the best free services online, I think. You might even be able to work out a deal where the current forum posts could be imported, although I’m not 100% sure about that (you’d have to talk to them on the support forum, probably, and it probably depends on whether you can export the current one in XML format).

    Nabble doesn’t have polls yet, but I’m sure they would add them if a few more people suggested the idea.

    I would at least recommend seriously looking into it. It really is an excellent service, and it could save money.

    I might also recommend calling for volunteer programmers and such for the work ahead. It might seem implied now, but people are sometimes afraid to be unsolicited volunteers. Just say who/what you need, and I bet someone will respond.

  48. Lushnam says:

    If we write checks for donations, do we put “Donation for LibriVox” in the memo, or where?

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