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December 05, 2006

Audio Versions of My Books: Available or Not?

I've been asked this several times in e-mail this week, so let me go ahead and address this topic publicly. People want to know if there are or are planned any audiobook versions of my work. The answer is no: Right now, there are no audiobook versions of any of my work, and as far as I know there are no plans to turn them into audiobooks.

A separate question is whether I would like audiobook versions of my novels, and the answer to that is: Sure, I think that would be groovy. A cursory glance at my contracts says I own the sound recording rights to my novels, so if any reputable audiobook company wants to make an offer, they can contact my agent Ethan Ellenberg about it. I'm unlikely to do my own homebrew audiobook version, because I don't much have the time or inclination at the moment. I have been thinking of doing some short stories in an audio version, just for kicks, but it's an idle thought at the moment. And inasmuch as I'm writing this when I really ought to be writing something else, I wouldn't be holding my breath for that.

So there you have it: No audiobooks now, none planned, but I'd be quite happy if someone wanted to make an offer to do one (or more).

Posted by john at December 5, 2006 11:49 AM

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kero aka kevin | December 5, 2006 12:18 PM

Sounds like a great Winter break project for Athena. Imagine the posibilities!

Steve Buchheit | December 5, 2006 12:48 PM

At work I listen to audiobooks a lot (radio reception, nada, and eventually I want to listen to something other than the NPR stream). The best audiobook I've listened to is Christopher Moore's "A Dirty Job" performed by Fisher Stevens. I think it was also up for some awards last year. Hint to all, this is not a book you want the kids to hear (some sex and cussing, Fisher does that part very well).

Scalzi, your writing has a great "voice" and I think it would translate well to the spoken word. Although how you'd differentiate the BrainPal communication versus dialog, I have no clue. That's why there are professionals that do that part.

Kristian | December 5, 2006 01:11 PM

Ah, that's a pity.

I really enjoy audio books, and get something like 40% of my 'reading' via audible.com. And I especially like the author read books (in fact, I will often choose an author read book that I am not 100% sure about over one that is not author read).

Well, I hope some reputable company will five y'all a call.

Chang who love eat brainz! | December 5, 2006 01:27 PM


I would love audiobooks of the Scalzi collection.

steve burnap | December 5, 2006 02:07 PM

As a listener and a reader, I find that short stories work better as audio than novels. Usually I listen when I'm doing something else, like walking to work, working out at the gym or raking the leaves. A nice 20-30 minute story works well for this. On the other hand, a novel takes weeks to get through on audio. For some reason, I can't just sit down and listen the way I sit down and read, so I don't seem to do the "read all night to finish it" thing like I do with dead tree books.

I guess that's a way of saying that I'd personally rather see Scalzi short stories in audio. There's always Escape Pod, which I believe does all it's own production.

Ronaldo | December 5, 2006 02:15 PM

Any hope of e-book versions?

John Scalzi | December 5, 2006 02:16 PM

Some hope, but not anything I can discuss publicly.

Eddie | December 5, 2006 03:12 PM

As a daily commuter I almost constantly have an audio book going in the car.Just finished the new Stephen King.(Recommended but only if you like SK who is sort of a genre unto himself in my estimation.)

Because not too many books make it to audio I am forced to listen to authors that I might otherwise take a pass on. This has largely been a good thing since it forces me to broaden my horizons.

I'd love to see all your novels on CD or downloadable audio.I'm sure it will happen.

Tripp | December 5, 2006 04:08 PM

I applaud your decision not to take on this project yourself. Not if some company will hire professionals and pay *you* for it.

Brady Duga | December 5, 2006 04:48 PM

I would love to see your work in audio form, but that would probably be a Sci-Fi story in its own rights, so I'll live with hearing it. Seriously, I am a big fan of audio books - I listen when I run in the mornings and when I drive home, which gives me a good 2 hours a day. I've actually looked for Scalzi on iTunes/Audible.com and been disappointed by the lack of entries :( I think your writing style would do very well in audio form, especially with a good, professional team behind it.

Josh Jasper | December 5, 2006 05:01 PM

You might want to check with the publisher. They might have a Right Of First Refusal clause on it. Orphan's Tales: In The Night Garden did, but it's not likley to get picked up as it's not quite as big a run as yours is.

As things stand, an audio book label is something I'm strongly considering throwing my spare time into. Working for eMusic is an education.

Christian | December 5, 2006 05:35 PM

/Thread Jack!

Ah, but which actors should do the voice work for the books? That's really the question!

I'll place my vote first:

Anthony Bourdain, reading "Agent To The Stars". I think he'd get Tom's part just right.

Steve Buchheit | December 5, 2006 07:15 PM

I'll second that "have somebody else read it." I haven't met you in person (yet), so I don't know your voice. From past experience, though, authors make poor readers. Stephen King is a prime example. He narrates "On Writing" on which he is excellent (I also have a copy of his "Building Bridges"/acceptance speech for the National Book Award). I took another SK audio out of the library. It was so bad I can't even remember which book it was. I go back and forth with Hitchhiker books narrated by Douglas Adams or by Steven Fry.

MWT | December 6, 2006 02:07 AM

Hitchhikers is way better as the original radio shows. Audiobooks nothin'. ;)

I suspect starting out by listening to a radio show kind of spoiled my ear for audiobooks. One person doing all the parts with no sound effects. Just isn't the same...

Eddie | December 6, 2006 02:00 PM

John.Please.Never, ever, ever, ever let them sell your books on audio as abridgements.

I beg you.The current trend to sell books in "abbreviated" form on audio is an abomination in the eyes of God and anybody else that loves good authors.

Is it because audio publishers think people in cars have less time to listen?A shorter attention span?Might have an accident while changing CDs? Can someone explain it to me?

I don't know but I'm striking a blow for "unabridged and unadulterated."

Thanks. I just had to get that off my chest. Now I feel better.

Dennis | December 6, 2006 05:42 PM

I'd second the recommendation for "Escape Pod".
That podcast has actually made me enjoy my Friday commute!

Brady Duga | December 6, 2006 06:00 PM

I second Eddie - I *never* buy an abridged audio book. If it was worth reading, why wouldn't it be worth hearing?

Steve Buchheit | December 7, 2006 10:13 AM

I'll also vote for the "abridgement is abomination" ticket.

Sean | December 8, 2006 11:30 AM

IF you want to go what we might call the Jonathan Coulton route, consider Telltale (http://www.telltaleweekly.org/). After a certain time (5 years/100,000 sales), the recordings go Creative Commons, but they theoretically have a loose staff of readers and directors who might jump at the chance to do the audio of an acclaimed book that nevertheless doesn't move enough units for its publishers to want to pursue audio.

John Scalzi | December 8, 2006 12:04 PM


"theoretically have a loose staff of readers and directors who might jump at the chance to do the audio of an acclaimed book that nevertheless doesn't move enough units for its publishers to want to pursue audio."

Heh. Without getting too much into it, units sold is not really the issue. The issue is that at this point I simply haven't much pursued it. But I've put it on my agent's radar and we'll see what happens from here.

Steve Burnap | December 9, 2006 04:30 PM

Put me down as another one who would never intentionally listen to an abridgement.

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