The Library of Classics is an MP3 player that comes preloaded with classic books all in audio format so you listen to them rather than read them. They say that it contains 100 classics and it goes for $100 so let’s see if it’s worth it or not.
It’s great that these classic books have stood the test of time and are an important part of our history, still relevant in our modern era even though they were written long ago. In many respects these books run circles around the drivle that is released as literature in our modern era. But is it a smart idea to pay for audiobooks that should be freely accessible since they are in the public domain?
The creators of Library of Classics say that they have 100 audiobooks which represents over 600 hours of listening all crammed onto one MP3 player. They say that their offer also comes with a mini speaker so that you can listen to the books without earphones. They also say that it includes 50 classical music performances, all on the same player.
There’s not much hype behind this, other than the TV promo for it, and the sales job done by places like QVC that make it seem like it’s an amazing piece of Americana. In actuality it’s not a technological marvel, but it does provide some legwork that many people aren’t going to want to do themselves.
The Library of Classics is $99 which may sound reasonable until you start to break down the actual cost of what has gone into making it. MP3 players are not very expensive anymore, even for a good one. The books that they have chosen are all in the public domain, so they didn’t have to pay any royalties to use them. So it was simply a matter of buying MP3 players at wholesale prices, sticking their logo on them, and loading up 100 free audiobooks. This makes for a very high profit margin at this price. PS: you can get it at Amazon for around $80.
The major pitch for this is that you don’t have to read the books, you can just listen. It’s a pitch still used today by places like Audible to sell their audiobooks. It’s true that it’s easier to listen to a book than to read it. Also, you don’t have to be the one to find all of these books and upload them onto the MP3 player, as it’s already been done for you. If you struggle with computers and technology this might be a good purchase, because it will save you the time and comes ready to use so you can simply open it and start enjoying these books. Feedback from buyers shows that the quality of the recordings is good so you can enjoy them without having to worry if the MP3 is high quality or not.
The Library of Classics is a good idea but is overpriced in our opinion. Yes, it can save you the hassle of having to find those 100 books, but at the same time it’s not as if it’s 1000 books, so you are pretty much stuck with their collection, and if you want to read a different classic book you’re out of luck.
Alternative 1: If you want to save yourself $50 to $60 and have a bit of time to look for the audiobooks you can get a 4 gigabyte MP3 player for about $30. That’s plenty of room to fill it up with all of the books you could want, with space left over, and you’ll be able to find titles that you actually want to read instead of being chained in by the titles they’ve selected. If those selections appeal to you and you don’t feel like searching for the books individually, it’s not a bad idea to just get this.
Altenative #2: If you have a Kindle or similar device you can simply find classic books for free on Amazon, download them to your Kindle, and then have them read to you by the device. This might not be as portable as a smaller sized MP3 player, but if you already have Kindle it’s totally free, and if you don’t already have a Kindle you can get one for less than the Library of Classics MP3 player and have all of the features that come with a Kindle. This would be a great alternative for those that plan to do most of their listening at home and don’t really care if its portable or not.
Final Library of Classics Review
Overall, the Library of Classics may be overpriced but in some instances it might be a good purchase. For those that don’t have the time or the wherewithal to try to replicate the product on their own, it’s likely a good purchase. But if you don’t like the idea of paying for something that can be had for free with a few clicks, then you won’t really like this purchase. For those that have an iPhone, iPod, iPad, tablet, or smartphone, you can find these audiobooks online quite easily, and totally for free because they’re all old and are now in the public domain.
We like to choose the books we want to read, so it doesn’t really make sense to be forced into listening to the books they’ve chosen as being classics. It seems easier to just find classic books of your own choosing, find them online for free and totally legal, download them, and put them onto your gadget of choice.
6 Customer Reviews on “Is Library of Classics Really Worth It?”
I know someone who bought one of these and this is what she and I have observed:
1: The MP3 player is an extremely cheap one and will not put up with hard use, never mind wear and tear. So, if you get this, do not plan on using it while doing sports or strenuous house/yard work. I personally wouldn’t use it unless I was sitting alone quietly and doing very little else, which to me defeats the purpose of audio books.
2: At least three of these classics can be found online for free if you work hard enough. We know this for fact because I’ve listened to them before and I found them on the ‘net for free. One of the reasons why they’re free is because they are public domain books and read by volunteers. A lot of the books on this appear to be read by volunteers.
What you are paying for is for someone to gather up all these free audio books and put them on one mp3 player. You are not really paying to help produce any of these audio recordings, they’ve already been done. Fair enough, it might be well worth it to some to have someone else go and do the hunting down and put them all together for them. However, there really is no excuse for the cheap, horrible quality of the MP3 player. If the player were a decent quality and could be used for many of the things people buy MP3 players for (such as while exercising, or doing house/yard work, etc.) I would say this is actually a fair bargain, but with the cheapness of the MP3 player, it’s not.
If I were to buy this myself, my plans would be to try to transfer the MP3s ASAP onto a better quality player.
So, what it really comes down to is that you’re paying $1.00 each for public domain classics, mostly read by amateurs. The readings aren’t bad, people aren’t coughing or slurping, or stumbling over words. Clearly some thought has gone into the recording. But they are not polished like current audio book productions are. Sometimes the emotions of the reader doesn’t seem to match the emotions of the book. Sometimes the voice seems very wrong for the book they are reading. But it could be a lot worse.
Just keep in mind that you can probably find most of these on the ‘net for free if you want to do the hunting. If you feel your time is more valuable, then it’s a good bargain. If you don’t mind searching the ‘net for free audio books, then I’d skip it. And if you’ve already been grabbing free audio classics on the ‘net for years, then do not buy this, you probably already have most of them.
I agree that this is a great idea, but the price is ridiculous. While I don’t personally prefer reading a book to listening to them, I have several friends who love audios. Plus, as mentioned, many classic books are free on Kindle. And Kindles have an audio option, so you’re getting exactly the same feature for free. Even if I did like books on tape, I still wouldn’t invest in this product at this cost.