How to Convert a PDF to an Audiobook

By Falice Chin

Audiobooks are gaining popularity for a number of reasons. It's not only convenient for people who are too busy to read, but also useful for those who have a reading disability or visual impairment. Speech-to-text software enables users to convert text documents, including PDF files, into speech with just a few clicks. Despite advances in speech-to-text technology in e-book readers and smartphones, no device has yet come up with a solution for imported PDFs.

Convert Online

Step 1

Upload the PDF to an online speech-to-text program. Free Web-based service providers, such as Zamzar, YaKiToMe!, vozMe and Spoken Text, allow you to convert text files from any computer without installing anything. Use this option to convert short text files.

Step 2

Customize the audio file. Follow the steps displayed on the browser. Most programs offer at least the option to choose from a male or female voice. If you are required to specify a file output type, select "MP3." MP3s are versatile audio files because they are small and compatible with most computers and portable devices.

Step 3

Save the converted file to your computer or portable device. Some programs allow you to download the MP3 file directly; others, such as Zamzar, will send it to your email. Drag and drop the audio file onto a portable device, or use iTunes to export the file if you have an Apple product.

Convert With Computer

Step 1

Install a speech-to-text software on your computer. Programs such as NaturalReader, Audio Book Creator, Lexiflow and Text2Go are more intelligent than Web-based solutions. Some of them can even handle multiple languages. Use this option to convert long and complex text files.

Step 2

Run the program. Follow the instructions to convert your file. Installed programs offer more options, such as speed of speech and accent. Programs such as Text2Go allow you further customize the audiobook by dividing it into chapters and adding cover art.

Step 3

Save the converted file onto your computer or portable device. Drag and drop the audio file onto a portable device, or use iTunes to export the file if you have an Apple product.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make sure the document is not saved as a PDF image. Text-to-speech software only works on text files.
  • An alternative solution to converting PDF into MP3 is to open the file on your screen and have a screen reader read the text instantly.
  • Different people have different audio needs and preferences. Read the user reviews of each software carefully before selecting a program.