Talking Books

By Gebbels, Tim | Contemporary Review, November 1995 | Go to article overview

Talking Books


Gebbels, Tim, Contemporary Review


Until beginning work on this article, I fostered the idea that the world of book publishing was characterised somehow by a charming anachronism when compared with modern commercial standards, a world still of the gentleman's agreement and merely nominal deadlines. Of novel publishing today, this is quite inaccurate.

One excellent example of how publishing in the 1990s is entirely contemporary is the proliferation, over the last five years or so, of audiobooks: that is, books read onto tape. In high street chain-stores, bookshops, record stores and lending libraries, an increasing number of titles on cassette testifies to this rapidly expanding market. There's even now a talking bookshop in Wigmore Street in central London, given over entirely to the sale of recorded books. It is an Aladdin's cave for anyone interested in this form of entertainment. Its shelves carry thousands of titles recorded by an astonishing number of different companies: established record labels as well as specialist firms, and, naturally enough, well known book publishers also.

Penguin Books is a field leader in this last group. Known world wide, Penguin this year is celebrating its sixtieth anniversary. Its audiobook publishing operation, however, is less than two years old. Its inception is a clear testament to Penguin's dynamic approach in a fast-changing entertainment market. Jan Paterson, publishing manager of Penguin Audiobooks and its effective head, spoke recently to the Contemporary Review for this article. He is proud of their achievement so far. `On our launch list in November '93, we had twelve titles which ranged across the nature of our publishing. There was Dirk Bogarde's autobiography, Beatrix Potter, Homer's Iliad, Madame Bovary. We're now doing about 100 new titles a year'.

Even a cursory glance at Penguin Audiobooks' catalogue is enough to see that their selection policy is eclectic. `There are four areas in which we publish', explains Jan Paterson. `We publish the classics; also there are twentieth century classics, which are the ones that have the eau de nil binding, such authors as Evelyn Waugh, Franz Kafka, Jack Kerouak and so on. Then contemporary titles which have the Penguin orange binding: Dick Francis, Barbara Vine, Dirk Bogarde, William Boyd, Stephen King, Donna Tart. This autumn we'll be starting a new series of Children's Classics which will include such things as Black Beauty, Treasure Island, The Secret Garden and Kidnapped'.

Who are Penguin's audiobooks aimed at? Debate continues to rage among visually impaired people (a group of consumers with long-standing experience of books read onto tape) over the legitimacy of the abridging of books prior to recording. The point arises because a substantial number of audiobooks commercially available, Penguin's included, are heavily cut. It's all down to cost. Several companies do record books in full but they retail way above what most consumers could afford. A single title read over eighteen or twenty tapes might cost in the region of 50[pounds]. Such products are aimed principally at lending libraries with library budgets. For general readers, audiobooks only become a realistic possibility at much lower prices. Publishers and record companies achieve these by abridgement.

Penguin, though, have hit upon a compromise. Traditionally, books have been produced on two cassettes (three hours running time) which for a long novel, like Wuthering Heights or any Dickens title, can sound very condensed. Jan Paterson records many books on four cassettes running at six hours, for under 10[pounds]. This provides more of a flavour of the full text. `Although we've pioneered these six hour abridgements, we've priced them very competitively at 9.99[pounds] as opposed to three hours at 7.99[pounds]. Anybody can see that the margin is going to be a lot smaller on the 9.99[pound]s. We just felt that you couldn't abridge some of these larger books and keep the integrity of the book in three hours. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Talking Books
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.