Audio books

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by NKemp3, Oct 5, 2012.

  1. NKemp3

    NKemp3 Commodore Commodore

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    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?
     
  2. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    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!

    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/2007/05/i-hear-star-trek.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.

    'Cos they were the bestsellers for Pocket in book form at the time.

    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.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2016
  3. WarsTrek1993

    WarsTrek1993 Captain Captain

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    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: Oct 6, 2012
  4. Drago-Kazov

    Drago-Kazov Fleet Captain

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

    Seriously why is/was more demand for german audiobooks?
     
  5. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    "Never" is not correct. The most recent audio was "Star Trek (2009)", and it was unabridged.

    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.
     
  6. Defcon

    Defcon Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    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.
     
  7. WarsTrek1993

    WarsTrek1993 Captain Captain

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    My bad, I should have put "not made anymore."
     
  8. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  9. NKemp3

    NKemp3 Commodore Commodore

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    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.
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    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!
     
  11. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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.
     
  12. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    ^That would be amazing! I would buy those in an instant.
     
  13. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    Indeed. I believe I've said so.

    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. :vulcan:
     
  14. NKemp3

    NKemp3 Commodore Commodore

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    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.

    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?

    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.
     
  15. Drago-Kazov

    Drago-Kazov Fleet Captain

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

    dodge Commodore Commodore

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    I've never heard of a store that doesn't track how much of what they sell...
     
  17. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    Totally disagree with you there, but I guess it's what you're looking for. I never expected a ST audiobook to give me the same experience as what I had just read. And I never felt the need to rehear the entire contents of the book I'd already read.

    I guess that people who like/demand unabridged novels listen to them instead of actually reading them? I bought them for new voice performances by the Star Trek actors I loved. My disillusionment probably started when George Truett started doing all the adaptations (most earlier ones were supposedly abridged by the original authors; they started mentioning in interviews that they were no longer being asked), and it deepened when ST actors were no longer getting the gig, in favour of stock S&S Audioworks performers.

    As I said earlier, it's actually the unabridged audiobooks in my collection I've never gotten around to hearing. If I've already read the book, I'd probably rather be reading the next new book on my pile than hearing someone read an old one to me all again.

    I admit, I was rather bewildered when unabridged books even started turning up. I saw a "Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy" in a store (I already had an abridgment, but then the original book expands on the old radio show scripts) and already had the abridged version. Did I really need Douglas Adams in my ear reading his entire book?

    "Most people"? I always assumed the move to longer and longer abridgments was due the commercial success of each new release, and then the advent of CD technology (and now downloads) improved the economic viability that eliminated the need/expense to make and store giant packages for the bulky plastic-and-tape audio cassettes.

    That people now prefer, or can have, unabridged stories doesn't necessarily mean they "hated" the old, abridged stories.
     
  18. JWolf

    JWolf Commodore Commodore

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    But who has the right to give me a story that's incomplete and expect me to like it? Abridged was awful and I never bothered with the Star Trek audiobooks because S&S didn't care enough to do it right.
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Ummm, anyone who's ever made a movie based on a novel? Those invariably trim out huge amounts of content, because adapting a full book would take a whole miniseries' worth of time. (Even Peter Jackson's extended cuts of Lord of the Rings leave out a bunch of stuff from the books.)

    There's also Reader's Digest and other publications over the generations that have presented condensed versions of novels and stories. Those have been very popular for a long time. A lot of people want shorter versions of stories because they only have so much time to devote to reading. A condensed version lets them get the essence of the story more efficiently, and for some people, that's desirable. So don't go spouting self-righteous rubbish about your "rights" being violated. You just have different tastes from the target audience, that's all.


    You're forgetting, this was before digital audio, and you could only fit a finite amount of content on a cassette tape. It's the same reason movie soundtrack album releases back then were incomplete -- there just wasn't room to be comprehensive. They weren't cheating anyone out of anything, because it wasn't practical to do an unabridged version in the first place; it would've filled up too many cassettes and been too expensive. It didn't really become a practical idea until the age of digital media and downloads. S&S did the best they could given the technology and the market of the era.
     
  20. NKemp3

    NKemp3 Commodore Commodore

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    Most people don't listen to an audiobook after they read the book. They listen to an audiobook as an alternative (sometimes a preferred one) to reading the book itself. That's how it works for me.

    [QUOTE}I guess that people who like/demand unabridged novels listen to them instead of actually reading them?[/QUOTE]

    Yes.

    Having actors who play a character read a book to me is merely a gimmick. And I'm sure that it was a popular one when the audiobook industry first got up and running. But most people who are getting into audiobooks now do so because of convenience. It doesn't matter to us who the narrators are. Actually the professional narrators that Audible has in its stable are so good that you don't want anyone else doing the job.

    Well, I'll throw it back at you the way you did with your reasons for why ST audiobooks are rare to find these days: if abridged audiobooks were so popular then why are they far more rare now? From all I have seen no one wants to get 1/4 a story or 1/10 a story or 1/20 a story. If you are going to commit to an audiobook you want the real deal. That's why when you go to Audible you'll see that hardly anyone is producing abridged versions of the books. I'm guessing this is strange to you because from your personal perspective you may have preferred a cliffnotes-like version of the audiobooks you were interested in. Maybe this is because you have been part of the demographic that was turned off by the idea of an entire book being "read" to you. I get that. The audiobook industry knows that it still has to face a perception that audiobooks are for grandmothers whose eyesight have failed them. What I'm trying to convey is that the attitude is changing and more folks who love books are going the audio route not because of poor eyes, but because of convenience and even enjoyment.

    Last month I finsihed the audiobook of 1Q84. The total time of the audio presentation was over 43 hours! I hesitated purchasing it at first because I thought it would take me an eternity to finish that. In fact I put off of listening it for months after I brought it because of that same concern. But I finally committed to listening to it during my commutes to and from work, during my early morning inventory updates at the firm I work for and during a couple of my weekend jogs. I completed it in just under 3 weeks.