Converting PDF to Audio

I’m studying financial advice and there’s lots of reading. I like to listen to audio as I walk but using the defaul screen reader technology on a mobile app doesn’t work this way. Once you put the phone to sleep it stops the reader.

So I started google how to convert PDF’s to audio. This blog post is about the extra stuff I had to install to get a script to work.

Converting text books to PDF

I’m using both Epudor Ultimate and VitalSource Downloader to convert my purchased text books into PDF, and then using print to extract each chapter for each week’s reading material.

I have purchased legit copies of my text books, why are ebooks the same price as physical copies? And why doesn’t a physical copy come with a free PDF version?

I’m storing all these files in a google drive folder so I can access them from any device.

This is week 1 reading material for Taxation Planning

Converting PDF to Audio; Python Script

Instructions for python; convert PDF to audio.

from tkinter import Tk
from tkinter.filedialog import askopenfilename
import pdftotext
from gtts import gTTS

Tk().withdraw() # we don't want a full GUI, so keep the root window from appearing
filelocation = askopenfilename() # open the dialog GUI

with open(filelocation, "rb") as f:  # open the file in reading (rb) mode and call it f
    pdf = pdftotext.PDF(f)  # store a text version of the pdf file f in pdf variable

string_of_text = ''
for text in pdf:
    string_of_text += text

final_file = gTTS(text=string_of_text, lang='en')  # store file in variable"Generated Speech.mp3")  # save file to computer

I’m using my Ubuntu v18.04.5 LTS machine.

First I needed to install python3, then a bunch of extra stuff. Here is an extract of my terminal history, hopefully in an order that makes sense.

mkdir python-audio
cd python-audio/

sudo apt-get update -y
sudo apt install python3
sudo apt install vim //I didn't have VIM
sudo apt-get install python3-tk
sudo apt-get install pdftotext //this didn't work
sudo apt install build-essential libpoppler-cpp-dev pkg-config python3-dev
pip install pdftotext //I didn't have pip installed
curl -o // I didn't have curl installed
sudo curl -o
sudo apt install curl
sudo apt-get install -y python3-testresources
sudo apt-get install poppler-utils
//Trying to install pdftotext I didn't have pip on my PATH, I tried fixing it but ended up using the whole path file instead
vim ~/.profile
vim ~/.bash_profile
rm .bash_profile
sudo /home/sammy/.local/bin/pip install pdftotext
sudo /home/sammy/.local/bin/pip install gtts

//checking version
python3 -m tkinter

Links that helped figure this out

There were so many other not as useful links but these were the gold nuggets. Development can be a bit like this, you have a gazillion tabs open to fix 1 or 2 things.

I’ve now hit the Google Text to Speech API limit

I converted the first two chapters and now I get an:

gtts.tts.gTTSError: 429 (Too Many Requests) from TTS API

So now I need to figure out how to authenticate the API requests so I can continue. Good thing Google has this awesome tutorial on using python with text to voice.

Speeding up the file

By default the extract is quiet slow. There appears to be ways to speed up the voice but I need to spend a bit more time figuring it out. I’ve found an android app called music speed changer which speeds up the file. I’ve experimented with SpeedUp and audiPo app’s on iOS but I think I need to add the files to itunes before they will pick up the files.

I’ve used an online tool to speed up the file but it doubled the file size.


I hope this helps you if you are also considering this. I found it very easy to set up, it only took me an hour of googling how to fix things to get something working which is a lot quicker than starting a test automation framework from scratch.

I’m now using Voice Dream as a pdf to audio converter on my iPhone. I haven’t found a decent android option yet. I did try Speechify but it didn’t work with one of my text books.

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