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Thoughts of a Reader

Posted on July 28, 2011 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, For Volunteers, News, Uncategorized | Comments: 5 Comments

One of our newer readers writes in the forum:

On the nature of audio books and “reading”

I am fairly new to the world of audio books and very new to reading within Librivox. The bother of keeping track of stacks of CDs, which might scratch if not handled with care, and the equipment one might have to tote to listen to them always kept me at a distance from that activity (shudder the thought of cassette tapes!). About a year ago our library started to offer MP3 audio books, downloadable on the Internet, and so began my journey into listening rather than reading. I now have come to appreciate how lucky I am to be a reader/listener and now so many years later, the enjoyment seems to increase while other things…well, they do not.

From my perspective, the experience of listening to an audio book starts with the intimacy. It is as though the author were speaking to me of secret, often personal things, back from countless years ago, on a one to one level; the author is here now with me, just me, to tell the wonderful story of long, long ago. The teller has no thing to be gained except my enjoyment of the eloquence, of what he or she has to tell me, at my beck and call, day or night. There is a solitude in this intimacy, one soul in touch with another. It is a fine thing to read, but the walls of the chamber are echoic and sometimes not so reliable. When I am listening all is made quiet, but the author speaking to me. I mostly walk in the mornings to listen and eventually start to feel my legs grow heavy, only then to notice that I have been out over two hours and begrudge the need to rest and go back. It is so wonderful to escape the cacophony.

Of course, the reader of an audio book is there and, in my view, their sole occupation should be to interpret the work and become the author for the listener. A digital device, saying each word as the electronic signal is received, can easily accomplish the saying of individual words without interpretation. But the interpretation of the words, including what has passed and what is yet to come in the script, is so far beyond any digital talent as to be unworthy of discussion. Most audio devices are used to listen to music, most times a product that comes forth from a sophisticated studio employing multiple people and the breathless world of electronic enhancement. A reader, on the other hand, stands fairly alone, having to interpret difficult text sometimes and then deliver a fairly accurate rendition without additional explanation. The saying of the words needs to be accomplished, but their meaning has to be presented too. I think this is best done through pace, tone and pause, but only after the reader is acquainted with the message of the passage and of the work. The unstated presence of fear, humor, melancholy, joy, love, hate etc all need to accompany the saying of the words. Unlike the musician, there are few (if any) knobs to adjust in doing this and volume can be used so sparingly as to be pretty useless (unlike some musicians apparently).

I should enjoy hearing from others on these points and if this is all old hat, why, I do hope that I will be excused. One last point: all the above is subject to my 80/20 rule; i.e. this is true only about 80% of the time, and otherwise not!

This has stimulated a heartfelt discussion on the topic, which you can read here. We welcome your thoughts too!

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New Releases

Posted on June 17, 2011 by | Posted in about LibriVox, For Volunteers, News, Uncategorized | Comments: 10 Comments

We still have a number of areas where work is ongoing, and users may notice things that are not working properly yet. There is a lot of work still to do and it is going to take some time to get everything functioning as we would wish. Security and usability are our top priorities.

In the meantime, one area that is not working is the New Releases update on the LibriVox Home Page. The new Releases RSS feed is working, so if you are subscribed to that you will see new releases as they come through, but they are not appearing on the Home Page.

In the meantime, this may help if you have missed any of the new releases since the reinstatement of the catalogue: the Internet Archive LibriVox index page has a list of all new releases in date order. Scroll down until you see “This just in”.

We are all greatly looking forward to getting back to what we are all here for – making public domain texts available as audio recordings. We thank you for your patience.

Ruth

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LibriVox is back in business!

Posted on June 10, 2011 by | Posted in about LibriVox, For Volunteers, News, Uncategorized | Comments: 5 Comments

We are pleased to report that the catalogue is now available again. It has been extensively tested, but please report any minor hiccups on the Error Reports forum.

As Fanny Kemble wrote:

Fail not for sorrow, falter not for sin,
But onward, upward, till the goal ye win.

Thank you for your patience.

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250th birthday of Johann Peter Hebel

Posted on May 12, 2010 by | Posted in Blog, News, Uncategorized | Comments: 1 Comment

Johann Peter Hebel (10 May 1760 – 22 September 1826) was a German short story writer and dialectal poet, most famous for his collection of alemannic tales “Schatzkästlein des rheinischen Hausfreundes” (Treasure chest of the family friend by the Rhine). This book was a collection compiled from his short stories “Kalendergeschichten” (Tales from the calendar). On the occasion of Hebel’s 250th birthday, we are able to present a recording of 6 of these “Kalendergeschichten”, read in the original German by Hans Hafen. You can find them here.

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