Friday, August 07, 2009

Convert eBooks to MP3 Audio With Spesoft Text to Speech Software

ipodaudiobookLearning skills to increase our income or just having a moment to read a book for fun is hard to do when you put almost two-thirds of your day toward paying yesterday’s bills. Or am I the only one that feels like that?
I’m trying to get through my Instrumentation Technician apprenticeship as fast as I can, but between my day job and my night gig, I don’t have a lot of study time. But what I do have is a fair amount of time in my truck, traveling from site to site. Hmmm, light bulb, convert my text books into MP3’s that I can play on my iPod. Hmmm, bigger lightbulb! Write an article on that.

Step 1: Get a Good Free Text to Speech (TTS) Program

SpesoftLogoOf the three Text to Speech software apps I tested with my text file of tongue twisters, the one I liked best was Spesoft’s Free Text To MP3 Speaker. I also tried Speakonia and Ultra Hal Text to Speech Reader. Unfortunately, those two do not convert the text directly to Mp3 format – just .wav. Other than that, they didn’t have as many choices on recording quality as Spesoft’s.

Step 2: Get a Good Book

gutenbergThere is a veritable cornucopia of copyright expired books out on the web. Project Gutenberg is probably the best known. Go on over, search for a topic and find the book you would like to read. Now download it. Please consider making a donation to Project Gutenberg if you can. It really is a great resource that has been going for about 30 years now.
I suppose you could do this with an eBook you own, as long as it wasn’t for public performance and you didn’t upload it on the web somewhere, and you had the express written consent of Major League Baseball, its broadcasters and affiliates. That’s just an opinion – do so at your own risk.

Step 3: Edit the Text as Necessary

You could skip this step if you don’t have the time. Keep in mind that older books often have different spellings or curious characters that might not be read properly by your TTS program.

Step 4: Open the Book in Your TTS

Well, this means that you open the book in your Text to Speech software application.
Okay, here’s more details. Click on the Load Text from File button.
From there, navigate to the text file you want converted. Select that text file, and click on Open.
Now, your text should appear in the main part of the program, just like this!
I take credit for creating the grumbling gremlin tongue twister. It came to me as I was thinking about a gremlin that was, um, grumbling. The car, not the monster.

Step 5: Let the TTS Do It’s Thing

This is the time saver part. Just hit Record and Create Audio File, save it with the file name you want and walk the dog. Don’t have a dog? Walk the neighbour’s dog – just tell them first or it gets ugly, and the neighbour thinks you’re taking the dog for that ritual you had planned for later. Or something like that.
Spesoft Test to Speech software also allows you to choose different voices, adjust the speed, pitch and volume of the voice as well as tweak the recording quality. Everybody seems to have different preferences, so you might just want to play around with that for a bit. Personally, I set the Output Quality and Sample Rate as high as possible. My iPod doesn’t have much on it. Not much of a music guy.
Now you have an Mp3 of the book that you finally wanted to read. Pop it on the iPod, crank up the Shakespeare and get ready to cruise the strip. That’s kind of lame isn’t it? Well, hot librarians might dig it.

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