Ted Striphas, author of The Late Age of Print: Everyday Book Culture from Consumerism to Control, has launched an inventive and exciting new project in connection with his book.
He is putting together a crowd-sourced production of a text-to-speech audiobook version of The Late Age of Print. Striphas has opened a wiki for the project, through which interested volunteers can help him clean up the text for audio conversion. Instructions and details are available here.
Here is Striphas on the project:
Listening to Chris Anderson’s Free: The Future of a Radical Price on a long car trip got me thinking: why not make an audiobook out of The Late Age of Print? And why not, like Anderson, give the digital recording away for free? The thought had barely crossed my mind when reality started to sink in. “You’re no Chris Anderson,” I told myself. “You don’t have the time or the resources to make an audiobook out of Late Age. Just forget about it….”
And so I got down to work. I extracted all of the text from the free, Creative Commons-licensed PDF of Late Age and proceeded to text-to-speech-ify it a chapter at a time. I played back my first recording — the Introduction — but it was disaster! The raw text had all sorts of remnants from the original book layout. They seriously messed up the recording, and so I knew they needed to go. I began combing through the text, only to discover that the cleanup would take me, working alone, many more hours than I could spare, especially with a newborn baby in my life. Frustrated, I nearly abandoned the project for a second time.
Then it dawned on me: if I’m planning on giving away the audiobook for free, then why not get people who might be interested in hearing Late Age in on it, too? Thus was born this, The Late Age of Print open source audiobook project. The plan is for all of us to collectively create a Creative Commons-licensed text-to-speech version of the book, which will be available for free online.
There’s a good deal of work for us to do, but don’t be daunted! If you choose to donate a large chunk of your time to help out the cause, then that’s just super. But don’t forget that projects like this one also succeed when a large number of people invest tiny amounts of their time as well. Your five or ten minutes of editing, combined with the work of scores of other collaborators, will yield a top-notch product in the end.
I doubt that I have a large enough network of my own to pull off this project, so if your blog, Tweet, contribute to listservs, or otherwise maintain a presence online, please, please, please spread the word about it.