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Trek Literature "...Good words. That's where ideas begin."

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Old October 5 2012, 08:23 PM   #1
NKemp3
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Audio books

I brought this topic up probably ten years ago. I'm going back to the well again.

What is the deal with the lack of Star Trek audio books? And why is that the few that we get are for the most part abridged?

I used to get answers that ST didn't get many audio books because there wasn't a strong enough market for it. I never understood that. I didn't necessarily think ST audio books would make it on the best seller's list, but I felt that there was a big enough fanbase to make a profit in the end.

A decade later and I feel even stronger about this even if the demand for Trek has decreased. With companies like Audible leading the way, the audio book market has exploded. In part this is the case because the technology is better. We now have audio devices (MP3s, IPods, smart phones, etc.) that can store countless hours of audio enjoyment; and even better we don't have to rewind/forward or switch out cassette tapes to hear this audio enjoyment. We don't need CDs either thanks to digital/audio downloads which saves not only the consumers money but saves money for the publishers as well. More to the point as a member of Audible for five years, I am often on its website and find myself amazed at countless obscure books that have an audio version. So many of these books surely don't sell as well as even a DS9 or a VOY novel, yet they have companion audio versions. What's more they have unabridged audio versions!

When will Pocket Books go this route with Star Trek? I'm happy that the ST novels have been available for the Kindle and tablets from the start, but its audio division is very lacking. Star Trek is made for audiobooks IMO because the best audio books are those that add the right touch of audio backdrop sound effects here and there throughout the presentation. The bleeps and of futuristic computers, the humming of powerful engines, the sounds of nature of an alien planet. These are tailor-made advantages for Star Trek audio books that can enhance even further a terrific story (just as long a sit isn't overdone). Plus you have to take into consideration that a growing part of the book market is strictly going to audio for convenience sakes.

I realize that a few of the Star Trek Best Sellers may have an unabridged version that you can now get on Audible, but, alas they are only a few. And they are limited to Classic Trek and TNG. Why not more, if not all of them? Why not DS9 and VOY and ENT? You can put some of those DS9 "Season Eight" books out as unabridged audio presentations and I'm sure they will sell more than more obscure scifi/genre stuff that one can find at Audible and other audio providers. Is anyone at Pocket Books thinking about this? Is this a pipedream on my part?
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Old October 6 2012, 02:32 AM   #2
Therin of Andor
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Re: Audio books

NKemp3 wrote: View Post
I
What is the deal with the lack of Star Trek audio books? And why is that the few that we get are for the most part abridged?
The Star Trek Audioworks abridgments represent a very different time. Audio books were only just taking off, and the huge theatrical success of ST IV gave the necessary buying frenzy to secure the success of audio adaptations. The first abridgments were only 90 mins long, but so cleverly adapted!

I used to get answers that ST didn't get many audio books because there wasn't a strong enough market for it. I never understood that. I didn't necessarily think ST audio books would make it on the best seller's list, but I felt that there was a big enough fanbase to make a profit in the end.
Have you seen the full list?

Here's the one I compiled in 2007, the last time someone brought up the topic in a big way:
http://therinofandor.blogspot.com.au...ive-often.html

They did well enough in the day! Lots of titles! In later years, as audio sales in general dwindled, they shifted to mainly hardcovers only, but the length did get longer and longer. It was only with the mainstream shift to DVDs that unabridged audio novels really took off. But by then, the ST franchise itself had dwindled again, somewhat.

Perhaps the Trek actors had also priced themselves out of range? For me, I lost interest in the audios (but kept buying) when S&S Audio started using their stable of non-ST voice artists to narrate them.

I realize that a few of the Star Trek Best Sellers may have an unabridged version that you can now get on Audible, but, alas they are only a few. And they are limited to Classic Trek and TNG.
'Cos they were the bestsellers for Pocket in book form at the time.

You can put some of those DS9 "Season Eight" books out as unabridged audio presentations and I'm sure they will sell more than more obscure scifi/genre stuff that one can find at Audible and other audio providers.
I have to admit, I very, very rarely have the time or inclination to play an unabridged novel on audio, especially if I've already read the book. I still have Zachary Quinto's unabridged version of the Alan Dean Foster adaptation of Star Trek (2009) sitting her waiting for me to give it some attention. I hear it's great, but I'm never in one spot long enough and I haven't become plugged into my personal devices with earplugs like so many other commuters I see.
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Old October 6 2012, 03:15 AM   #3
WarsTrek1993
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Re: Audio books

It's too bad audiobooks are not made anymore. I'd love to hear:

The Good That Men Do as read by Scott Bakula.

Destiny I, II and III as read by current series cast members.

VOY relaunch as read by Robert Beltran.

Last edited by WarsTrek1993; October 6 2012 at 06:12 PM.
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Old October 6 2012, 09:16 AM   #4
Drago-Kazov
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Re: Audio books

If you are german there are some newish audiobooks for you.

Seriously why is/was more demand for german audiobooks?
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Old October 6 2012, 09:38 AM   #5
Therin of Andor
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Re: Audio books

WarsTrek1993 wrote: View Post
It's too bad audiobooks are never made.
"Never" is not correct. The most recent audio was "Star Trek (2009)", and it was unabridged.

Drago-Kazov wrote: View Post
If you are german there are some newish audiobooks for you.
Seriously why is/was more demand for german audiobooks?
They would be made by a smaller company, with smaller running costs, lower performer fees, and for a more dedicated audience. There are perhaps less commercial concerns.
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Old October 6 2012, 09:59 AM   #6
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Re: Audio books

Drago-Kazov wrote: View Post
If you are german there are some newish audiobooks for you.
Yeah, audible.de has unabridged German audios of :

Titan:
Eine neue Ära (Taking Wing)
Der rote König (The Red King)
Die Hunde des Orion (Orion's Hounds)
Schwert des Damokles (Sword of Damocles)
Stürmische See (Over a torrent Sea)
Synthese (Synthesis)

all read by Detlef Bierstedt, who was the German voice of Riker during TNG and Generations.

Vanguard:
Der Vorbote (Harbinger)
Rufe den Donner (Summon the Thunder)
Ernte den Sturm (Reap the Whirlwind)
Offene Geheimnisse (Open Secrets)
Vor dem Fall (Precipice)
Enthüllungen (Declassified) is planned for December
They seem to plan to release the remaining two relatively soon, too.

all read by Dietmar Wunder, who among other things is the German voice of Daniel Craig, so Bond is reading Star Trek for you

Destiny:
Götter der Nacht (Gods of Night)
Gewöhnliche Sterbliche (Mere Mortals) is planned for this month
Verlorene Seelen (Lost Souls) is planned for November

read by Lutz Riedel, who was the dubbing director for the TNG movies

If you want to hear how it sounds, here is a listing of the titles, just click on Hörprobe and you get an audio excerpt.
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Old October 6 2012, 06:11 PM   #7
WarsTrek1993
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Re: Audio books

Therin of Andor wrote: View Post
WarsTrek1993 wrote: View Post
It's too bad audiobooks are never made.
"Never" is not correct. The most recent audio was "Star Trek (2009)", and it was unabridged.

.
My bad, I should have put "not made anymore."
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Old October 6 2012, 10:26 PM   #8
Therin of Andor
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Re: Audio books

WarsTrek1993 wrote: View Post
My bad, I should have put "not made anymore."
It all depends on whether Simon & Schuster Audioworks has maintained a license for publishing "Star Trek" audios. I guess we find out if an unabridged CD set is released of the next movie's novelization. Did enough people support the last one? Did people see it at retail? (I didn't.)

How popular are the ST audios? Even in the late 80s and early 90s, my local bookshop might have imported 20-30 copies of each new novel, but only one or two copies of a simultaneously released audio. Three months later, general bookshops would get in five or so novels, but only ever one copy of an audio would appear on the audio spinner racks. Eventually, distribution became so unreliable Down Under, I'd just pre-order my ST audios from Amazon each time.

Certainly, it seems that, previously, S&S Audioworks had an exclusive license for abridged audios, but licensed unabridged novels were trickling out of Recorded Books (three "Vulcan's Soul" novels read by Richard Poe) and Chivers Sound Library/BBC Audiobooks America (their own unabridged versions of "Sarek" and "Nemesis", sold mainly to public libraries). All licenses might get negotiated separately now. According to John Ordover, S&S did not always own a licensing agreement for full-cast readings; there was an audio for the "Star Trek: Klingon" and "Star Trek: Borg" computer games but not Interplay's "Starfleet Academy" (it got a novelization, but not audio).

Audible Frontiers recently rereleased Chivers Sound Library's old unabridged "Sarek" (read by Nick Sullivan) as a download instead of S&S's abridged version (read by Mark Lenard).

Abridged audios in general seem quite rare in the marketplace these days. Possibly, there is no longer a longterm exclusive licensing agreement for audios, or perhaps other companies can seek a cooperative agreement, as in recent years with the Haynes technical manuals, Abrams' "365" books, Andrews McMeel's calendars, and now Universe Publishing's calendars.
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Old October 6 2012, 11:01 PM   #9
NKemp3
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Re: Audio books

Therin of Andor wrote: View Post
WarsTrek1993 wrote: View Post
My bad, I should have put "not made anymore."
It all depends on whether Simon & Schuster Audioworks has maintained a license for publishing "Star Trek" audios. I guess we find out if an unabridged CD set is released of the next movie's novelization. Did enough people support the last one? Did people see it at retail? (I didn't.)

How popular are the ST audios? Even in the late 80s and early 90s, my local bookshop might have imported 20-30 copies of each new novel, but only one or two copies of a simultaneously released audio. Three months later, general bookshops would get in five or so novels, but only ever one copy of an audio would appear on the audio spinner racks. Eventually, distribution became so unreliable Down Under, I'd just pre-order my ST audios from Amazon each time.
80s and 90s? Audio books were still mostly a foreign concept back then, my friend. In fact as you well know most audiobooks from that era were tape cassettes and those were annoying to work with. And to be honest even CDs are of little interest these days for audiobooks. No offense but we can't judge the audiobook market by old measurement techniques. Go to a book store and you'll notice that the audiobook sections have gotten smaller. Most people are getting their audiobooks through downloads now. They are cheaper. An unabridged audio download is often cheaper than an abridged CD version of the same book. The digital downloads are also far more convenient to use. I'll mention it again...the audiobook industry in general is growing because people are pressed for time and an audiobook allows them to multi-task. Audible has grown big enough that it actually advertises on network TV. My question is whether S&S wants to dip a toe in the market with its Star Trek franchise to see if there is enough demand.
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Old October 7 2012, 12:16 AM   #10
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Re: Audio books

It would be cool if Trek could get an audiobook franchise like Doctor Who has, with fully dramatized plays bringing back original cast members. If only Big Finish would get the license -- and hire us Pocket authors!
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Old October 7 2012, 03:19 AM   #11
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Re: Audio books

What about getting reissues of the old Peter Pan Records Star Trek audio stories from the 70's? Those were all original stories, but they sure didn't have the original cast.
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Old October 7 2012, 03:46 AM   #12
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Re: Audio books

^That would be amazing! I would buy those in an instant.
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Old October 7 2012, 09:27 AM   #13
Therin of Andor
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Re: Audio books

NKemp3 wrote: View Post
80s and 90s? Audio books were still mostly a foreign concept back then, my friend.
Indeed. I believe I've said so.

In fact as you well know most audiobooks from that era were tape cassettes and those were annoying to work with. And to be honest even CDs are of little interest these days for audiobooks. No offense but we can't judge the audiobook market by old measurement techniques. Go to a book store and you'll notice that the audiobook sections have gotten smaller. Most people are getting their audiobooks through downloads now.
Well, that's precisely why I didn't try to discuss the post-90s audio situation.

I have absolutely no idea what current sales are like. I do know there's been a harsh swing towards unabridged, in that abridged ST books are constantly sneered at, and dismissed, whenever I've tried to say how enjoyable most of S&S Audioworks' ST collection has been. I own them all, and love them!

But... my gut feeling is that commercial audiobooks in general are still not all that popular. The rise of free, downloadable iTunes podcasts would surely have infringed upon the viability of commercial audiobooks that cost $$$$.

Certainly, when I see commuters plugged into their devices on trains and buses, there's more likely to be duff, duff, duff music leaking out, not the dulcet tones of a commercial audiobook.

If ST audiobooks were still commercially viable, they'd still be with us.
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Old October 7 2012, 05:57 PM   #14
NKemp3
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Re: Audio books

Therin of Andor wrote: View Post




But... my gut feeling is that commercial audiobooks in general are still not all that popular. The rise of free, downloadable iTunes podcasts would surely have infringed upon the viability of commercial audiobooks that cost $$$$.
I have no idea what your measurements are for "all that popular" but I do know that the audiobook market in general is thriving. It still has a long way to go and faces some challenges. But you should know that the audiobook market hit the billion dollar sales mark for the first time this year and that the amount of books put out in the audiobformat has trippled since 2007. Also according to stats those that listen to audiobooks tend to be highly educated people with higher than average incomes. Some have claimed science fiction fans are part of that same demographic. Anyway the renting of audiobooks from libraries have also gone up by roughly 27% from 2010 to 2011. And the most popular type of audiobooks tend to be genres rather than non-fiction or the stuff you find on Best Sellers lists.

Certainly, when I see commuters plugged into their devices on trains and buses, there's more likely to be duff, duff, duff music leaking out, not the dulcet tones of a commercial audiobook.
Well, music in general makes more money than literature. That has always been the case. And even with videos people have tended to favor experiencing music in a strictly audio format. Audiobooks on the other hand have to deal with the issue that the book business is not even as successful as the faltering music industry, and that most book lovers still read books instead of listening to them. So with all those factors, with the fact that those who are buried in a book will most likely have a book or a tablet in their hands to read rather than plugs in their ears to hear, is it any wonder that you will come across more people listening to music than audiobooks?

If ST audiobooks were still commercially viable, they'd still be with us.
That's debatable. ST itself seems to have lost much of its popularity from its height in the mid 90s. Audiobooks would merely be the first casualty of such a drop. Of course it didn't help that ST audiobooks were mostly horrible. Abridged cliff notes that did a disservice to an author's intent to tell a story. You may disagree with that but most people hate/hated abridged audiobooks which is why that particular form of audiobook is all but extinct now outside of a handful you still see in stores. In five years when the CD business is gone the abridged versions will be over altogether except for those produced in previous years that will be transferred to digital.
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Old October 7 2012, 07:02 PM   #15
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Re: Audio books

Does audible track how much audiobooks they sell for diferent franchises?
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