For the busy business owner, audiobooks are a godsend. They’re the perfect way to intake information while performing a must-do task that doesn’t require you to think, like commuting or folding laundry. But what’s an audiobook aficionado to do if they’ve got a book or document that they want to listen to that hasn’t been made into an audiobook?
Well, if you’re able to obtain the digital text of the content, then you can use a few software solutions for reading the text back to you. Of course, the quality won’t be anything like what you’ll get from an official audiobook read by the likes of Morgan I’d-narrate-that Freeman, but it’ll make do for when you’re in a productivity pinch.
SpeakIt! is a text reading extension for Chrome that’s fairly easy to use. After downloading it, you will see a speaker icon on the upper-right corner of Chrome. With the webpage loaded that you want read to you, go ahead and highlight the specific sentences and paragraphs that you want played back and then click the SpeakIt! icon, and just like that, you’ll hear the text read back to you.
A few advantages of SpeakIt! are that its playback is smooth, and you can adjust the playback speed. The standard speed is 330 words/minute, but you can increase or decrease that speed by ten. SpeakIt! is also capable of reading back several different languages, and it can even translate text while it reads.
The disadvantage of SpeakIt! is that it doesn’t work well with Chrome extensions that you use for writing and editing text, like Google Drive, Gmail, Adobe Reader, etc. Also, several users have reported that SpeakIt! has a tendency to stop working after a minute or two of use, depending on the nature and complexity of the website you’re on. Reloading the web page will often take care of this issue, but this easy fix doesn’t make the issue any less annoying.
@Voice Aloud Reader
If you’re looking for a text-reading mobile app, then @Voice Aloud Reader is a popular option for Android. It’s available for free on the Google Play Store. Also available in the Play Store, are plugins made to enhance @Voice Aloud Reader, like @Voice PDF Crop Plugin which provides increased functionality for reading PDF files.
@Voice Aloud Reader works by uploading the text to its app, then, with the app open, all you have to do is select play and it will be read back to you. The text displayed in the app will retain the original formatting, and @Voice Aloud Reader will even highlight each sentence that’s being read so that you can easily follow along. You can also skip ahead by scrolling down or by clicking the >> button. You can even adjust the pitch and speed of the voice to suit your listening needs.
The advantage of this mobile app is that it’s compatible with a variety of different text formats, like the articles found on web pages, and files like PDF, DOC, TXT, EPUB, FB2, and more. Plus, whenever you upload the text from the webpage, it will upload only the text from the article itself and not any irrelevant content from other parts of the page.
Overall, it’s a highly-rated app with few complaints. The only downside may be the advertisements, but that’s to be expected with a free app. Keep in mind that, for a small fee, you can upgrade to a pro version without advertisements if you prefer.
There you have it. No more excuses for not getting around to reading that book or report, even if you can’t find an official audiobook!
Do you use any tools to knock out reading while you’re working on something else? If so, share them with us in the comments.