12 August 2013: Our own bit torrent efforts have been largely superseded by the Internet Archive now including torrents on our pages.
What is it BitTorrent?
BitTorrent is a file sharing technique that allows us to distribute large files to a great number of people. It gives us the opportunity to offer our audio books by ourselves -- independently -- in addition to publishing them with a centralized server like archive.org. We are able to publish the audio books from our homes, from your and my PC, without major bandwidth demands.
How does it work?
BitTorrents connect you to the one server where the file you want is hosted, but it ALSO connects you to all the people who are downloading the file at same moment, and to those who have already finished the file too. So you end up downloading "bits" of the file from whoever has some free upload capacity at any given time. This way everybody's upload-capacity is used in the process, which is wasted in standard HTML or FTP-downloads.
Torrents, Seeds and Peers
When you are downloading something, you are called a "Peer". Someone with a completed download, who makes that file available is called a "Seed". Still sharing the file after you've finished downloading is called "seeding" (and is considered good manners!). As a peer/downloader you receive and send many small pieces of the file, until it's finished. And when the file you wanted is finished you keep sending it to others (until you decide to stop seeding). Files in BitTorrent are offered as so called "Torrents". More to that further down.
Why is BitTorrent important for us?
Our conventional method
LibriVox primarily publishes our files on archive.org. A wonderful partnership it is. We get conveniently manageable server space and unlimited bandwidth for free - they get our good content and traffic. Thousands of people are downloading our large files from archive.org, because they heard of us from friends, the news, or buzz.
Disadvantages to conventional methods
- No matter where in the world you are, you have to connect to this certain archive.org server. From some places (Germany) for instance, that's an awfully slow connection.
- If too many people download from archive.org at the same time, speed slows down. It only has limited capacity.
BitTorrent as an alternative
Torrents are simply another download-alternative we can use. And importantly, BitTorrents work because people believe in sharing. Sharing information, data, and unused bandwidth for good, just like archive.org - and we like that.
There is one very good reason for it. Vast numbers of people are browsing torrent-lists all over the Web for new things they might like - Music, books, movies. This is just another place people can find LibriVox books, even if they have never heard of us before. They might not even be browsing for audio books intently but rather getting a newsfeed of new torrent-files and suddenly they come across Frankenstein, or A Connecticut Yankee, or another LibriVox book, in their newsfeed and think: "oh great - let's download that!" Through torrents, our audio books are put in another place for people to find them. Any book seeded is tremendous promotion for Librivox if uploaded to a bunch of torrentsites.
How does BitTorrent work?
BitTorrents are a little different from other file sharing tools. It's not like you start up a piece of software with which you can search a database and download the files from the search-result directly.
Instead of downloading the MP3 file directly, you find and download a small file from the Web at first, called a "torrent". Think of it as a little guiding post that points your software in the direction to look for the files you wanted.
You will find huge lists of these torrents in the Web, like dumpsters full of guiding posts. Hundreds of dump-sites all over the Web that you can browse and search for millions of torrents. Anybody can dump their torrents there. We place our torrents at several (the more the better) high traffic dump-sites where they can be found - where they appear as new releases for a while.
After you've found a torrent, you start that torrent with your BitTorrent client, and it now knows which files to download and where to download them. You start up "Frankenstein .torrent" with your client and it starts to download the Frankenstein files from many people.
The first Seeder
You might have asked yourself: "Ok, so everybody downloads from everybody? But where does the first get the files from?" Right! That's me. I get an audio book from LibriVox the usual way (archive.org) and then I offer it with BitTorrent - I create the torrent and start to seed the audio book.
I also spread the little torrent-file to the many torrent sites. Two minutes after I have spread a new torrent, the first people are already interested in them and are downloading the audio book from me already. Half an hour later everybody got some pieces of the MP3s, and everybody is downloading pieces from everybody. Two hours later some are finished and keep on seeding the book, because they are nice. Others connect to them as well and can get the complete book from them. Even if my PC would die now, the book could still be completely downloaded from the others seeds, until they all quit seeding that is.
What can you do to help?
- Main page: How To Create Torrents
I only have a standard internet connection. And I can only share so many books to so many people at the same time effectively. That's where you come in - and every LibriVox volunteer who wants to join in and help us. You too can let your computer offer our audio books and help to share them to the downloaders from around the globe. How?
Two ways to help
- You can be a first seeder of some books too, if you´re proficient with BitTorrent already. See here for instructions: How To Create Torrents
- Way easier - you can simply download our books through BitTorrent and help us seed our audio books with your upload capacity afterwards. Either way Librivox can thus serve and publish its own books, and get some good amount of attention out there.
Prerequisites for helping
Prerequisite for longterm seeding is a time unlimited and volume unlimited internet connection... Otherwise it could quickly be getting expensive for you! This should be running on a computer that's on pretty much all day, better all day round. If you have this, you could be using your connection to its full extent and act as a LibriVox seeder for some of our books.
The Awesomeness! And download numbers
Let me tell you - it's an awesome feeling to do that - To watch people download our (probably your own!) book from your own computer. Sometimes I just sit and watch it like TV, see how our wonderful data flows out to people. It's silly but amazing somehow.
6 days of seeding with my computer: In that time my computer had shared 152 audio books, worth 22 gigabytes. Now it's been 3-4 weeks: My computer has upped 833 books, worth 92 gigabyte. Isn't it amazing!?
Here are the new numbers of torrent-downloads from the dump-site www.thepiratebay.org alone: (not to mention the 8 other dump-sites)
- Aesops Fables 1-25 - Aesop - 761 times
- Kommunistische Manifest - K.Marx F.Engels - 547 times
- Communist Manifesto - K.Marx F.Engels - 708 times
- War is kind - Stephen Crane - 118 times
- A little Princess - Frances Hodgson Burnett - 279 times
- Old Christmas - Washington Irving - 159 times
- An international Episode - Henry James - 170 times
- A mysteries Affair at Styles - Agatha Cristie - 653 times
- A Cristmas Carol - Charles Dickens - 629 times
- Five Children and It - E. Nesbit - 191 times
- Treasure Island - Robert.Louis.Stevenson - 1582 times
- Alices Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Caroll - 1292 times
- The secret Agent - Joseph Conrad - 762 times
- Notes from the Underground - Fyodor Dostoyevsky - 822 times
- Call of the Wild - Jack London - 947 times
- The Road to Oz - Frank Baum - 440 times
- A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthurs Court - 472 times
- The Pilgrims Progress - John Bunyan - 244 times
- Psmith in the City - P.G.Wodehouse - 296 times(+2000 times known on legaltorrents.com)
- Helsinkiin - Juhani Aho [Finnish] - 104 times
Newer Awesome numbers
I (Stephan) have two Seeds running for half a year now. One is OliverTwist the other The Adventures of TomSayer My computer alone has uploaded the books completely to 910 people. It has uploaded 234 GIGABYTE with these two torrents. Of course the real download numbers from this Seed will be in the several thousands.