Several months ago, I read Think and Grow Rich, the classic motivational book by Napoleon Hill. I have listened to an audio book version, specifically the 21st Century Edition, but I wanted to have the original 1937 edition as an audio book so that I could listen to the book without the additional modern commentary to distract from the original text. I also wanted to provide this as a free download here on my blog. I initially began recording the book, but a series of winter colds, travel, and other commitments have prevented me from completing this in a timely manner.
As a result, I decided to create the audio book using high quality text-to-speech (TTS) software. I used TTS software for several reasons:
- First, it is a more cost-effective method of delivering audio books. This is essential, as it is our intention to offer this for free;
- Second, text-to-speech software produces much smaller files than traditional audio recordings, thus saving bandwidth, storage space, and download time;
- Third, we were able to produce this audio recording very quickly. This entire book, nearly 10 hours of recorded audio, was produced in one hour. The equivalent amount of audio would take between 40 and 60 hours to produce, by my estimate.
I selected the highest quality voices for this recording to ensure the best listening experience. If you have never listened to text-to-speech reading, it may take you a short while to get used to the cadence and the voice.
So why offer this for free? I believe this book is hugely important to anyone who reads and applies the principles that Napoleon Hill suggests. Also, I believe this should be free, as in free speech and free beer. There are audio book versions available with updated content, but they come at a cost. I believe that this should free and available to everyone who can access the Internet.
You may download the entire audio book here as a zip file:
You can also download the e-book in EPUB, PDF, and Kindle/Mobi formats here: Think and Grow Rich E-Book
The audio file processing, though very quick through the software, was hindered in part by the quality of the text. I worked from the archive.org text file, which was presumably processed like this:
scanned original document > OCR > plain text
There were some OCR errors, that had to be corrected. To manage this, I had to comb through the text and identify where the errors occurred. I ended up using a dead tree copy of the 1937 version that I procured as a reference, which was immensely useful. Napoleon Hill liked to emphasize with capital letters A LOT. This was generally not a problem, except the software kept reading the word ‘IT’ as ‘I T’, like an abbreviation. There were a few issues around names, but the software was surprisingly robust. I also identified two bugs in the TTS software, but I was able to find workarounds, while support works on fixes.
I performed post-processing/post-production work, primarily in updating the ID3 tags, adding cover art, and renaming all of the files. All in all the audio files are not perfect, but they are close.
- TextAloud3: text-to-speech software for creating the audio files, using audio voices from the Acapela Group (Ryan, Will, Heather)
- Notepad++: text editor for chapter editing and tagging
- Tag&Rename: for ID3 tag editing
- Audacity: for recording publisher’s introduction
- Microphone: Yeti, for recording publisher’s introduction
- PC’s: Lenovo ThinkPad T410s for producing TTS audio files
- box.com: hosting the audio file
I will definitely use this software again. The trade off between a human voice narrator versus production speed, file size, and time to market with TTS software is completely worth it. I would not use it for audio that I would sell, but I would for free offerings. If you’re curious to know more, feel free to contact me.