Project Gutenberg is one of the best places to download royalty-free ebooks in a myriad of popular formats, such as EPUB and MOBI. The company has millions of monthly downloads and is one of the largest. To broaden access to classic literature, Project Gutenberg partnered with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Microsoft to craft a vast collection of audiobooks using AI. The project releases thousands of free audiobooks to major platforms like Spotify, Apple, and Google podcasts. The project leverages advancements in human-like neural text-to-speech to bring thousands of beloved books to life in a new, accessible audio format. It can even read books in a user’s voice given only 5 seconds of audio. Led by Mark Hamilton (MIT) and Brendan Walsh (Microsoft), along with supervising professor William T. Freeman (MIT), the project seeks to democratize access to literature to include individuals with visual impairments, language learners, children, and those who prefer to listen to their books.
The project uses new advances in neural text-to-speech to create lifelike voices that sound similar to native human speakers. The approach uses a deep network that’s trained to mimic the quality and tone of native speakers, can speak a variety of languages, and can even identify and stylize the reading of emotional text.
Audiobooks are the fastest-growing segment in publishing; listening to them for free is very compelling. There is a new website that has been developed that has playlists for Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and the Internet Archive. There are around 5,000 titles currently available, and more are being converted. The code that powers the AI engine that converts ebooks to audiobooks is also available for developers who want to create their apps, the code base is available on GitHub.
Michael Kozlowski has written about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. Newspapers and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times have picked up his articles. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.