Last month, LibriVox hit the rather astonishing milestone of 100 million downloads at archive.org. I don’t know how this compares to the Grateful Dead collection that is the other incredibly popular draw there, but for myself, I’m entirely a-boggle at the 100 million number. I’m even quoted as being shocked, although it’s true there’s no way to extrapolate audience numbers from downloads. After all, most listeners download more than one book, dropping the audience numbers hugely, and some people download ‘because it’s there’ rather than to ever listen to … but hopefully other downloaders then play the books to family, make CDs of it to pass on, seed torrents and so on, bringing the numbers back up again. Fun to speculate!
A couple of days ago, I hit an equally boggling, though less Lady Gaga-esque number: my reading of Dante’s Inferno, canto I, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow has been on YouTube for four years, and just hit 250,000 views. Furthermore, it has 600 likes, 17 dislikes which is a pleasing ratio. It’s a very simple presentation, by a videomaker who hooked up our readings with the relevant illustrations by Gustave Doré, but effective. I find the comments thread mostly hilarious, since it covers the hotness of my accent, the intent of nephilim, the differences between panthers and leopards, general other-commenter abuse and which African-American actor people would most like to narrate this instead of my ‘sorry soul’.
I looked over at archive.org and the full work is only (“only”!) on 229K downloads, so unexpected as it may seem, YouTube can be an effective vehicle for getting recordings ‘out there’. That said, the video for Canto II hasn’t yet reached 50K views, and later chapters diminish even further, so there’s not an amazing conversion rate of viewers addicted to Dante. But still. There are a LOT of people listening to something I recorded five years ago (not actually very well. I really should do an updated reading.) And, for the most part, enjoying it!
Finally from the Department of Gosh Those Are Big Numbers, my top-listened solo at archive.org, Love and Freindship by Jane Austen, has broken 100,000 downloads. This is a combination of big name author and longevity of availability, but, I’ll take it. :) It’s a fun little piece of juvenilia that should please anyone who likes Austen’s writing, without taking too long to listen to or being especially memorable in the way her novels are.
And now, onward and upward!