Listen to eBooks by Converting Them to MP3s for Free

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Services like Audible offer audiobooks, but books that never made the leap to audio aren't part of the audiobook retailer catalogs. Convert a text or ebook file on your PC into an MP3-based audiobook by using a specialized conversion program. Although these programs rely on synthesized voices of varying quality, they're a great way to convert your local ebooks or even plain-text files into a format you can listen to while you're commuting or running errands.

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Balabolka

What We Like

  • Opens and converts to lots of file formats.

  • Provides smooth translations.

  • Multiple installation options (e.g., portable or command line).

  • Has several advanced options that can be tweaked.

  • Updates often with new features and improvements.

  • Supports many keyboard shortcuts.

  • Includes other conversion and translation tools.

What We Don't Like

  • All the settings can be overwhelming.

  • Lacks a modern, clean user interface.

Balabolka supports an impressive range of text-based file formats that it can convert, including files with the extensions TXT, DOC, PDF, ODT, AZW, ePub, CHM, HTML, FB2, LIT, MOBI, PRC, and RTF.

Balabolka uses Microsoft's Speech API (SAPI 4 and 5) to convert text into synthesized speech. Tweak voices using Balabolka's interface to change parameters such as pitch and speed.

The program outputs audio in formats with extensions including MP3, WMA, OGG, WAV, AAC and AMR (probably the best format for voice).

Balabolka supports subtitled text in the LRC format or in the metadata of the audio file so you can view the text (just like lyrics) on a device with a screen as the audio plays.

Balabolka supports the Portable App standard, which means you can put it on a flash drive and start it on any PC without first running an installer program.

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DSpeech

What We Like

  • Lots of options and settings to customize.

  • No installation needed (it's portable).

  • Can convert local and online files.

  • Supports rich text files.

What We Don't Like

  • Might be too advanced if you're looking for a simpler tool.

DSpeech doesn't need to be installed, so you can run it from virtually anywhere. Even though the application's interface is quite simplistic, DSpeech is quite powerful and has a good selection of features.

As well as being able to read files in text formats including plain and rich text, Microsoft Word and HTML, you can also use DSpeech for converting your voice into text — there's a basic voice recognition engine built into the program.

This application (like the majority of free tools of this type) uses the Microsoft Speech API to convert text into speech. DSpeech can encode to MP3, AAC, WMA, OGG, and WAV which covers most of the popular formats in the digital audio world.

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Classlesoft Text to MP3 Converter

What We Like

  • Very easy to use.

  • Provides audio adjustment settings.

  • You can pick from multiple output formats.

What We Don't Like

  • No advanced settings, such as changing the default save folder.

  • Supports plain text files only.

If you need a simple no-frills text-to-MP3 converter, then Classlesoft's offering is worth a close look. It's light-weight, fast, and presents a clear interface that is straightforward to use.

It only supports files in plain-text format, but if you have a lot to convert, this program makes the whole process a breeze. Queue multiple files for automatic batch conversion to MP3 before hitting the big red start button. There is no option to change voice profiles in this utility, but the settings menu offers tweaks for the pitch, speed and volume of the synthesized speech.