Saturday, June 11, 2011

Book on tape made from PDFs!

Simple steps to follow when making books on tape from your favorite books.
Find some fan fiction or other non-copy-written material in PDF or text format (copyable).
You are going to learn to convert text into voice files (MP3 in this case).
All you need is NaturalReader, M$ Word and the text file or PDF you wish to convert into voice.

First you start with a pdf file or text file. I this case you can download legally a copy of Alice in Wonderland. It's large enough for demonstration and it's free. This should keep the greedy corporate people off my back for this demonstration. I don't think Lewis Carroll will sue me (at least I hope his zombie doesn't).

Buy or try out a wonderful program called NaturalReader ($50 I think - but well worth it!). I bought the Personal version for $50 and it comes with two voices. You can buy more than two voices, but it gets expensive and unless you are converting MANY books, I would stick with ATT Mike16 and ATT Crystal16 voices. Natural Reader even lets you purchase English Accents for those books that require a certain fantasy feel if you wish.

OK here are the steps I use...

Select 'Continuous' setting on the PDF so you can select ALL of it to copy to the clipboard.

Find all the carriage returns (carriage returns will make annoying pauses in your book on tape) and replace them all with spaces. The code for carriage returns is ^p. Replace all ^p with spaces.

Looks like 2,542 replacements were made. Don't worry - you will not be reading this book,
the lovely computer voice will be.
Oops! Looks like we have text in here we want to get rid of!

Copy and paste your now edited text into the NaturalReader text window.

Once you click on the ... to save it - choose a place that has enough memory to hold the MP3 files you are about to create.

Select the -> MP3 button and it will ask you for how high quality you wish your book on tape to be. If you are just making it for an MP3 player like an iPod, Medium is actually quite good. High quality is not required unless you have the space. It uses a LOT of space for High quality.

Now it asks you how you want to split it up. I usually use 20 minute splits. For larger books you might want a larger number of minutes so you don't wind up with too many files. 15-25 minute bites of the book makes it easier for you to keep your place and which file you are listening to.

Now enter the author's name in.
Apparently grab a hot drink while you let the computer chug away for several minutes (depends on the size of the book).
Once it's done, it will tell you. The virtual cup of coffee cannot be exported for your enjoyment I am afraid...
Open the folder with your files in there and let's see what we have!
It gives you eight 'Alice in Wonderland' files all 20 minutes long (or less for the last file) to put on your iPod or favorite MP3 player!

As you can see they are MP3 files - clean from limitations! I used Properties Plus to examine the extension of the file in question. You can change the file in question to anything to get the file past the silly file filters of gmail. I change all the .exe files I send to .DAV as the people I send them to understand how to change them back (you just change the extension back to .exe).
If you are wondering what 'Yeats' is - it's some fan fiction I made for the game OGRE/GEV.

Thank you for sticking with it all the way. I appreciate any comments or stories relating to making your own created books on tape and how it helps alleviate the boredom in your life.
Remember these are MP3 files created from clean text files and can be played on any iPod or true MP3 player (which iPods are NOT - they play ACC because Apple are too cheap to buy the rights for the MP3 file extension). Don't get me wrong - Apple does put out some good products - but they don't let anyone write code for them but themselves - it increases the cost and stifles creativity.