The Web sites LibriVox and LiteralSystems have recently compiled online audio libraries of poems, short stories, and novels available in the public domain. Together, the sites offer hundreds of free downloadable MP3 recordings of poems by Emily Dickinson, William Shakespeare, and Wallace Stevens, and novels by Jane Austen, Joseph Conrad, and Leo Tolstoy that can be listened to on computers or in digital music players such as iPods.
Both Web sites use volunteers to record texts that have fallen out of copyright. The works are then edited and checked for quality before being posted for download. While the total number of works available is only a fraction of the thousands of titles released by commercial publishers each year, the stated goal of LibriVox, which has more than eighteen hundred registered volunteers, is to eventually “make all public domain books available as free audio books.”