Telling tales

Published July 21, 2009

Today, the first LibriVox book that I co-ordinated has been completed and catalogued for the wider world to enjoy. If you’re at all interested in a book that follows the life of a prehistoric caveman, then I recommend The Story of Ab by Stanley Waterloo.

It was quite exciting when I saw this book turn up in the new releases RSS feed, as it is with any book I’m involved in. Knowing that I helped to make it happen, that I was a part of a wider effort to make the audio available to everyone, is really satisfying.

It also occurred to me that I haven’t told my LibriVox story yet, and whilst this may not be at all interesting, I thought it was worth noting down.

To begin, what is LibriVox? It’s a place for volunteers to get together and record chapters of public domain audiobooks with the aim being to make all such texts available via audio. I don’t remember how I found the site, but I do remember sitting on a bus and wondering whether we had a microphone I could use. This was back in late 2006, and my first forum posting was in early November. I actually thought it was before that but my memory is always one to play tricks.

I recorded a few chapters here and there, but before the month was out, I had selected a book I wanted to read in its entirety. Now, this is a much bigger undertaking than I originally thought. It took several months, several revisions, several sore throats, and was finally catalogued in April - The Price of Love by Arnold Bennett. I wouldn’t go so far as to recommend this one, as I was still new to the ’talking out loud’ business, and I tried to do different voices. I have now discovered this is not my forte. These days I try and go for subtle variations but generally, one voice suits all!

In between starting and completing this first book, I also began a small, little F1 show called Sidepodcast. With a new podcast to sink my teeth into, the relief of having finished my first book, and some Windows related audio recording issues (that are a _whole _other story), I took a break from LibriVox.

I think I have told this story before, but upon my return to the forums, I wrote: “I’ve not been here for a while, but found that I missed recording and participating in books.” Mr C read it, and said to me: “You mean you’ve got a Mac.”

With much better recording facilities, thanks to the ever expanding Sidepodcast, I was back in the swing of things with LibriVox and signing up for chapters with renewed vigour. I even had a go at a few weekly poetry submissions (the idea being that many volunteers record the same poem) but I’m not sure I was any good at it.

I stuck with chapters, and read recipes, fairy stories, speeches and more, until the bug for an entire book struck again. I chose The Grell Mystery by Frank Froest, and this time I really, really enjoyed it. Perhaps it was the new found confidence with reading, perhaps it was just a fabulous story, but this was a completely different experience to the first book I recorded.

I decided being a book co-ordinator was the next step, and this process involves finding the book you want to record with others, posting the chapters, and then encouraging volunteers. I wasn’t sure if I’d done a very good job with The Story of Ab, and thought I would concentrate on chapters and solo work. Except, I accidentally started up another book for co-ordination (funny how these things happen, isn’t it?) and that is where I am now.

Recording chapters, co-ordinating books, and working through a solo. And I love it.

If you have ever got enjoyment from reading aloud, I heartily recommend the LibriVox process. Everyone is really nice, all abilities are accepted, and criticism is only ever constructive and done in the nicest possible way. Why not give it a try, and dive in with my latest book? Observations of an Orderly by Ward Muir.

You won’t regret it. (But you will be sucked in!)

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