Audio books

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

  1. NKemp3

    NKemp3 Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2000

    Bad example because movies and books are entirely different genres. The average book will take far more time to finish than watching a movie based upon the book. But books and audiobooks are in the same genre, just different subcategories. All the audiobook is supposed to be is the spoken version of the written word. And if one wanted to enjoy the entirety of a particular written word, the abridged version was a poor route to go. As a result people tended to avoid them entirely.

    A lot of people want shorter versions of stories becaus


    Since when? That excerpted format is not much of a draw. Yes, people want short stories which is why there is still a short story market out there for all sorts of genre. I have a monthly subscription to one of those mags that provide short stories from mystery writers. But there isn't much clamoring these days for shortened versions of actual novels. You only see some of that in a select magazine as a way of enticing readers to go out and get the complete version.


    Respectfully disagree. Working at a book store in the late 90s I couldn't understand when I saw untested work such as the first Harry Potter novel get released with both abridged and unabridged audiobooks. This is before anyone could be sure that HP would sell well in the States. Meanwhile Star Trek, at its height in popularity thanks to TNG, was putting books on the NY Times Bestsellers list and yet for the most part its audio versions were unabridged. Sure it is possible that unabridged versions of ST books could have been huge disasters financially, but S&S never really tried to go for it and find out.

    Twice I can recall customers asking me if there was an unabridged version of these books; one lady asked because she was going to be travelling by car throughout the weekend and wanted something to listen to. These folks had no interest in the abridged versions because those only lasted two to three hours which meant most of the story would have been lost. Let me also say that I'm comparing S&S to what was being done with the Star Wars audiobooks. There was a big difference. SW had its share of abridged of course but it also provided full cast audio versions with a dozen or so actors on each reading dialogue of the various main characters. The SW books tended to put more money in background sound effects and music too. And of course it had its share of unabridged audio too. Trek audio books never seemed to get that type of carefully crafted handling.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2012
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    No, because my point was that those early abridged audiobooks weren't meant to be exact equivalents or replacements, but adaptations to a different medium, not unlike movies. Today's unabridged audiobooks may be more like books per se, but I don't think it works to apply that same standard to the early Trek audiobooks.


    Reader's Digest Condensed Books (now called Select Editions) have been in continuous publication for over 60 years. I mean, come on, it's such a perennially popular series that its name became synonymous with the idea of condensed storytelling, even a metaphor for brevity. You often hear people say "Give me the Reader's Digest version" when they mean "keep it short and concise." So yes, obviously there is a market for shortened versions of novels. Just as there are plenty of people out there who don't like to read at all, there are also plenty of people who don't like to read too much, who wouldn't have the patience to read a full-length novel and just want a briefer version.


    You're comparing a media tie-in franchise to an original novel series? I'd call that an invalid comparison on the face of it. There's probably less financial incentive for an audiobook publisher to do tie-in adaptations in the first place, because they have to split the royalties with more people and get a smaller piece of the pie, and because the market for an adaptation of a tie-in to a mass-media franchise is probably pretty tiny to begin with. So they probably didn't see enough profit potential to invest in an unabridged version. But those factors wouldn't apply to an original novel, especially one that was already a huge hit overseas.


    Twice?! You heard objections only twice out of the whole time you worked there, and that convinces you it's a universal attitude?


    When has Star Wars not been a bigger seller than Star Trek in head-to-head competition? They could afford to do those things because they had reason to expect enough profit to justify that overhead. You can't just assume that a large enough audience will magically appear if you pour money into something. Yes, doing a better job will probably get you more patrons up to a point, but there are limits.
     
  3. NKemp3

    NKemp3 Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2000
    Yes, because you are still comparing two totally different things. Whether you want to own up to it or not a movie is never meant to tell the same story of the book. In fact movies can take liberties by changing outcomes, combining characters, moving plot points from the middle to the beginning, etc. An audiobook, on the other hand, is meant to convey the same story of the book. It is only an audio version of the written word. As a result it has always been considered a subcategory of the book business (the same can't be said of film obviously). When you gut more than half the story you basically defeat the purpose of the audiobook which is to allow the story in its entirety to be read to the listener





    It being synonymous with the idea does not make it currently popular. Readers prefer short stories to condensed stories of novels. Condensed stories major purpose these days is to catch the attention of readers who would then seek out the complete text for purchase.




    Wait. The same argument coming from your point of view, could apply to publishing books in the first place for franchises like Star Trek. After all...the books are tie-ins too, right? So wouldn't the same issue apply? Of course it would. But they go ahead and publish those books anyway. Why not the audio portion then? There will always be a certain percentage of people interested purchasing an audio edition. Not just for Harry Potter or Prize winning books. For all books. Yes, some are going to sell far more than others and make a profit. But again the same can be said for books in general.


    Ha. I knew that would be a response. A manager used to tell me that a comment a customer had regarding a frustration they had was the same as a complaint sent in by letter to, say, a TV station. Every one you hear represents dozens more that are never verbalized or spoken of (or written about). That's how I view it. But let's say that's wrongheaded and let's say I concede your sarcastic point that the two remarks are a ridiculously unimportant and low number. You know what's worse? The actual ZERO requests from people clamoring for abridged editions and the ZERO complaints from people that they could only find unabridged versions of a book and not any abridged versions.



    You can't also assume that putting out a more shoddy and cheaply produced edition will lead to sales when consumers have examples of other audiobooks of finer quality to compare it too. Who wants to purchase an inferior product? Isn't it part of being a smart business person to realize that?

    Of course I realize SW was more popular....even though the prequels were still a couple of years away. Again though if SW is so much more popular that ST could not hope to compete in the audiobook market, doesn't the same argument apply to the larger book market as well? So why publish the books then? All those trees, all those covers, all that ink, all of those shipping costs. That's expensive too especially considering the bulk of books that were coming off the presses back then. Point is S&S kept putting out books like SW but didn't try to put much effort into audio. S&S was dipping a couple of toes into the waters of the book industry while the folks behind SW were all but dumping the entire foot. How was S&S to know how much merchandise they could really move without going all out?
     
  4. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2004
    Location:
    New Therin Park, Andor (via Australia)
    Exactly!

    The early S&S ST audios, "with Leonard Nimoy as the voice of Spock", are quite different animals. They are not simply truncated versions to the print book. The Spock scenes are rewritten in the first person, as science officers' logs, making those audios new pieces of ST entertainment, not just a trained actor reading a book you could have read yourself.

    ST's abridged audios were, at first, nothing like the concept of an unabridged book-on-tape that started to grow in popularity.

    Not those early ones!

    John Ordover once told me that S&S Audioworks did not hold the rights for full-cast audios. I wasn't sure if that meant some other company held them, and chose not to use them, or S&S simply chose not to purchase such a license - perhaps because Paramount wanted too much for those rights, or didn't care to make them available?

    The closest they got were audios that used tracks made for "Star Trek: Klingon" and "Star Trek: Borg" computer games. And three original-to-audio "Captain Sulu" productions, which utilized a then-new "3-D Sound" technology (which worked extremely well with the CDs and headphones, not so well with audio cassettes).

    With MMPBs, the more you print, the cheaper each unit becomes, and the higher the potential profit.

    If you "never bothered with them", how do you know what they were like?

    Which ones have you heard?
     
  5. Emh

    Emh The Doctor Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2000
    Location:
    Durham, North Carolina
    Terrible idea. They're already getting far too much money from me every year as it is! :scream:
     
  6. Smitty

    Smitty Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    May 30, 2006
    Location:
    Dallas/Fort Worth, TX
    well, I have not read all the posts here, but any arguments aside I can state that I for one would be a big customer of unabridged Star Trek books. I love audible.com, I listen to books constantly since I spend about 2 hours a day, 10 hours a week in commute (driving or I would read). I have tried the abridged ones but it did not work for me. Case in point, the book Prime Directive is rated very high as star trek books go. I tried the abridged version and it never really grabbed me and I found it difficult to follow sometimes.
     
  7. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2011
    Movies do trim out a lot of stuff from adapted books, either because in the book there was information that was stated twice, but in the movie, the way it's edited together or scripted you only need the info once; or how about the ever famous "it was a minor scene and we just couldn't fit it infor time". Of course the other is that the scene just didn't work for the movie. Look at how many times "A Christmas Carol" has been adapted, and while they tell the exact same story as Dicken's original novel, and even in most cases use the same language, there is some stuff that is invariable cut. I've seen early film adaptations of "Christmas Carol" from 1910 and 1913 where, for time, the producers had Marley show Scrooge everything, instead of having the individual Ghosts appear too do the same job,
     
  8. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2004
    Location:
    New Therin Park, Andor (via Australia)
    Here's a stray thought about why Simon & Schuster may not have pushed unabridged audios when the technology was making them more efficient to produce.

    If unabridged novels are bought by people as an alternative to reading the hardcopy book, but the book sales are still respectable, is there a pressing need to put a finger in the dyke?

    Yes, the abridged novels reacted to changing trends over the decades. They got longer and longer, and fewer in number, eventually only adapting hardcovers, moving to CD-format and cheaper narrators, and eventually drying up all together. But, in my own experience, I was a completist and only twice played the abridged audio before reading the book ("Sarek" and "Stone and Anvil"), and then I had to read the book.

    Unabridged audios might attract new consumers who prefer not to read, but established fans are supposed to choose audio or book, but not both?
     
  9. JWolf

    JWolf Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    I have heard some by borrowing from the library. For example, Imzadi was not all that good (IMHO) due to being abridged. I read the book first and then listened. If it's a story I am enjoying, I want more, not less.
     
  10. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2004
    Location:
    New Therin Park, Andor (via Australia)
    Made in 1992, when most unabridged audio novels - of any genre - were made mainly for hearing impaired people. And were extremely expensive for most people, even if you could find them.

    Six months ago, I bought an ex-public library unabridged version of "Sarek", narrated by Nick Sullivan. A huge, now fragile, plastic box from Chivers Sound Library containing ten cassettes. 879 min. Such products were simply not very commercial in 2001 - when I open it, at least five of the ten cassettes fall off their pegs and tumble out - and Simon & Schuster Audioworks didn't attempt to do such unabridged ST novels until CD technology came along. (So far, I've not managed to find 879 spare minutes to listen to it.)

    By comparison, the audio book of "Sarek" that S&S put out was 180 mins, in a neat, slim package, narrated by Sarek himself, with an original soundtrack. And I loved it! Several times. Mind you, it was released way back in 1994, before unabridged novels were even popular.
     
  11. Art Vandelay

    Art Vandelay Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2005
    Location:
    New Vertiform City
    I listen to audiobooks during my daily commute. That way, I manage to listen to more than four hours of audio content per week. It makes a once boring part of the day absolutely delightful, and I manage to catch up on some great reading. Driving without listening to a book, to me, is wasted time.

    If unabridged Trek audiobooks were to be made available, I'd be all over them.

    I understand that abridged audios are entirely different animals, and why they exist - but they are no alternative for me. Back in the 90s, I listened to the audio versions of Q-Squared and Dark Mirror and found them to be butchered versions of the original. Why would I want this, especially if I have more than enough time to kill when driving?
     
  12. NKemp3

    NKemp3 Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2000
    Why not pose the same question regarding virtually every other book being released by a major publishing company these days? It doesn't appear to be hurting sales of books directly. And if it did as a result of consumers preferring the audio edition then so be it. Better to have that option for those with those tastes then to not have the option, because it is unwise to assume that people who are stuck with only the option to read a book won't decide to ultimately skip the book altogether.

    Look at the film industry in terms of sales and rentals. The DVD market has been drying up and therefore the industry is pushing BluRays more. But they haven't abandon DVDs altogether as of yet. Not only that they are also starting to rely more on downloads because there are a numbe rof people who want to watch films on a tablet or an phone or a notebook. Do you think the film industry is thinking "hey, if we make these downloads available won't that take away from ouy DVD/bluray sales and rentals"? No. It can't afford to see how it all shakes up. It has adapt quickly, accept progress and ensure it is taking advantage of all possible options.

    I don't think established fans are going to have any extra angst making a decision. Most would likely still prefer to read the material although perhaps via an e-book. Other established fans may go with the audio. Or, as I already pointed out, they can choose both if they have a tablet. Amazon and Audible has it set up that you can purchase both for basically the price of one and go back and forth between the two forms of media depending on where you are and what you are doing.
     
  13. NKemp3

    NKemp3 Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2000

    We all know that back in the day it was not so advantageous to put out unabridged version of any book, let alone Star Trek books. The audio cassettes were far too cumbersome; a total pain in the butt to deal with. Of course that could be said as well if someone wanted to buy, say, an anniversary music collection of all Beatles songs or all Motown tunes. Who would want to carry around all those cassettes or deal with the problems that came with doing so? But then the industry progressed and started relying more on CDs and such materials became easier to handle/carry around. And then the industry took another step forward with digital downloads. S&S, as far as Star Trek audio is concerned never appeared to have any desire to adjust to these changes. Even back in the late 90s when CDs had already taken over cassettes, S&S was still mostly relying on cassette tapes for its Star Trek audio presentations. It wasn't even giving consumers a choice between cassettes and CDs.

    And going back to your point about how awful the library audiobooks were all I have to say is that library versions were never designed to woo consumers willing to hand over their hard-earned cash. Therefore it isn't fair to compare how the presentation of an audiobook meant for the library would stand against one meant for store shelves for paying customers. It had very little to do with one being abridged and one being unabridged, because when the publishing companies put together unabridged works they looked just as nice and held up just as well as the "Sarek" abridged audio you are referring to.
     
  14. NKemp3

    NKemp3 Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2000
    This sums up the attitudes of me and a growing audiobook audience perfectly.
     
  15. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2004
    Location:
    Oxford, PA
    I don't really have a dog in this race, but it may be worth pointing out that abridged editions can actually require more work and money to produce, since you have to hire somebody to abridge the manuscript.

    I've known more than one starving writer or editor who has made a little extra money by cutting another author's manuscript down to the desired length for the audio version.

    I've never done it myself, but I gather it's trickier than it sounds . . . .
     
  16. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2004
    Location:
    New Therin Park, Andor (via Australia)
    But the point is, Simon & Schuster would have to spend extra money on hiring a production team, musicians and actor to record the unabridged audio (many, many hours of work) for perhaps little profit, since you are arguing that fans who hear an unabridged novel don't even then go and buy/read the hardcopy novel.

    The abridged audios were an advertisement for the longer novel, which fans willingly paid for, or/and a unique chance to hear a brand new vocal performance by favourite ST actors: Nimoy and Takei or Doohan, in the early days. Later Frakes, Besch, Koenig, McFadden, Dorn, and others.

    I really don't care for unabridged audios; I have no need for them. I have nothing against S&S making them, but if you want to prove a case for them, you need to convince us/them just how they'll be economical and/or profitable to create/sell.

    As for the clumsy public library packaging for unabridged "Sarek", the problem was the need to package ten cassettes. This problem has been eliminated due to CD technology and digital downloads.
     
  17. Starbreaker

    Starbreaker Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2001
    Location:
    Chattanooga, TN
    I listened to a good chunk of The Dark Tower by Stephen King on audiobook. They're unabridged and quite entertaining. I've recently started listening to podcasts to fill my time in the car, though.

    I don't have a problem with abridged versions of works, but I'm not going to listen to one strictly because I'll always be wondering what I missed in the print version.
     
  18. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2004
    Location:
    New Therin Park, Andor (via Australia)
    That's why the book is also available.

    Would you feel the same if Nimoy and Takei performed selected excerpts of a novel onstage at a convention?

    I know that John deLancie and William Campbell once did just that with "Q-Squared".
     
  19. Starbreaker

    Starbreaker Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2001
    Location:
    Chattanooga, TN
    I wasn't waging a holy war on abridged works, just stating an opinion.
     
  20. Danlav05

    Danlav05 Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2006
    Location:
    Rutland UK
    I would love to produce a Star Trek range for Big Finish someday! I've met them a few times at conventions and they are such a nice bunch!

    They tend to do exclusive audiobooks or full cast plays hough - it could mean Excelsior or Titan??

    I'd love more Trek audio it's a pity we haven't heard Frakes read Taking Wing or even a full-cast version of Star Trek Destiny - in fact that would possibly need to include the lead ins and Typhon Fact onwards.

    http://www.graphicaudio.net

    These guys have produced lots of audio dramas, each release about 6hrs of various properties including DC and they're doing Marvel Comics now - the cast is usually about 2 dozen+ voice actors. I doubt the possibility of reuniting dozens to Trek vets for Destiny, GA seem to cast voice -only actors, mind you they could find the right sounding people. There are loads of Picard impressionists, but could people guess who everyone else is?

    Also like Big Finish they look like a relatively small production company.

    I do confess however I prefer the shorter 2-3hr audiobook to the unabridged format of over 300mins

    Hmm - I wonder if you could get away with 'multi voice' audios rather than full cast - ie narration with some dramatized segments.

    The 2009 movie novelization is the only Trek audio since 2003ish when the range seemed to die - I for one would certainly love a revival.