Listen to eBooks by Converting Them to MP3s for Free

Services like Audible offer audiobooks that we love listening to, but some books never make the leap to audio—so they aren't part of audiobook retailer catalogs. Luckily, you can convert a text or ebook file into an MP3-based audiobook by using a specialized conversion program on your PC.

Although these programs rely on synthesized voices of varying quality, they're still a great way to convert your local ebooks, or even plain text files, into a format that you can listen to while commuting or running errands.

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Ilya Morozov

What We Like
  • Opens and converts to several file formats.

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

  • Updates often with new features and improvements.

What We Don't Like
  • So many settings can be overwhelming.

  • Lacks a modern, clean UI.

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. You can 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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Dimio Software

What We Like
  • Lots of options and settings to customize.

  • No installation needed (it's portable).

  • Can convert local and online files.

What We Don't Like
  • Might be too advanced if you're looking for a simpler tool.

  • Ancient UI.

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 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—that'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

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 no-frills, text-to-MP3 converter, then Classlesoft's offering is worth a close look. It's lightweight, 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 streamlines the whole process. Queue multiple files for automatic batch conversion to MP3 before hitting Start. 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.

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What We Like
  • User-friendly web interface.

  • Variety of voices to choose from.

  • Mobile apps available to download.

What We Don't Like
  • Few advanced features or tweaks.

  • Only supports TXT, PDF, or eBook uploads.

As with many of the applications in this list, you can use TTSReader as a real-time text speaking tool (using the Microsoft SAPI4 and SAPI5 system) as well as a converter. The app offers a well-laid-out interface that is intuitive to use and comes with a nice selection of options.

Although TTSReader's file format support isn't as rich as some other free text-to-speech applications, it converts large amounts of text, quickly.

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