Readthewords.com is a new free service that should be of interest to genealogists, historians, librarians, students, educators, and persons for whom reading is difficult. To use the full range of their services, you will need to register, but registration is quick, painless, and non-invasive.
Readthewords.com allows you to create MP3 files or podcasts from text files you provide (up to 80,000 words in length). Text files can be in English, French, or Spanish. If you have registered, you can choose from a fairly wide variety of male and female voices (including a male and a female with UK accents, in case you feel your MP3 / podcast needs a touch of class, don’t you know). You can then download the MP3 file or embed the podcast on a blog or website.
I am planning to create several podcasts for this blog, because I happen to like computer-generated voices. I am also planning to get some text files from Project Gutenberg and create MP3 files of some shorter classic works of literature (any, that is, for which they don’t have an MP3 file already available) for my mother, who has macular degeneration and can no longer read or see TV broadcasts. Right now I’ve got my eye on The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, which I’m certain she’ll enjoy. I also can see any number of uses libraries or schools could make of this service (just check to be sure that non-profits can use their services for free first). I’m sure you can think of many other uses for Readthewords.com.