My independently produced audio edition of Homeland, read by Wil Wheaton, is now available direct from me as a $15 MP3 download. The audiobook not only features Wil's reading, but also Noah Swartz reading his brother Aaron Swartz's afterword and Jacob Appelbaum reading his own afterword, recorded at the Berlin studio of Atari Teenage Riot's Alec Empire.
The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories is a collection of "lost" Dr Seuss stories culled from short stories published in magazines like Redbook in the 1940s and 1950s, collected and reprinted for the first time.
The publication of a new Seuss collection is reason to celebrate in and of itself, and Bippolo Seed is more than a curiosity or a completist's collection of offcuts -- much of the material in this book stands with Seuss's best-loved work. The illustrations are classic Seuss and full of wit and irreverence, though the ratio of words to pictures is a lot wordier than the typical Seuss, owing, I suppose, to the constraints of the original magazine publication. If I had to choose a favorite from among these, it'd be "The Great Henry McBride," (MP3) about a young fellow who can't make up his mind on a single career and demands that the world accommodate his wish for excitement and novelty through his whole life.
Of course, pictures are only half the story with Seuss, an author who really demands that he be read aloud. Random House has released a companion audiobook featuring absolutely smashing celebrity readings from the likes of Neal Patrick Harris, Anjelica Huston, Joan Cusack (MP3), and William H Macy (MP3) (along with others), and you can really hear how delighted and honored the readers are for the chance to work with this material. I wouldn't recommend getting the CD without the book (because Dr Seuss's illustrations are so integral to the stories), but it is an indispensable companion. Read the rest
Neil Gaiman's launched a creator-centric audiobook label; Neil's a fabulous reader.
"When Don Katz first called and explained ACX to me I started to get excited. I've loved narrating audiobooks—winning the Audiobook of the Year Audie Award for The Graveyard Book was one of my proudest moments—and I am lucky in that almost all my books are now available in audiobook form. But I'm constantly astonished at how many great books, beloved books and books that have a special place in my heart, are not, and mostly never have been, available as audiobooks. ACX seems a brilliant way to change that. In an ideal world you should be able to listen to every book you love being read by someone who's perfect for it. Getting involved in ACX, and curating my own label within it, is my way of trying to help us get to that ideal world."
(Thanks, Juke!) Read the rest
The Random House audiobook edition of my novel Little Brother is a free MP3 download this week through Sync, a program that develops the audience of teen/YA audiobook listeners (it's paired with Kafka's The Trial, which is pretty cool). The file itself can only be downloaded with a proprietary downloader from Overdrive, which I couldn't run under WINE on my GNU/Linux system, so I'm not sure how the process goes, but once you've actually gotten the file, it's yours to keep for personal use as a plain-vanilla MP3 with no DRM. Read the rest
Malaysia's Y&R agency created these fantastic "ear worm" ads for a line of Penguin kids' classic audiobooks. I love the combination of kids' book illustration with anatomical detail and a Penguin-Classic-esque layout and colour scheme. That said, I'd avoid the digital download versions of these audiobooks like infectious material, as they appear to be poisoned with some species of DRM requiring you to use "Ingram Audio Manager," a bit of proprietary crashware. I'll stick with buying and ripping the CDs.
AudioGo's new audiobook "Poe's Detective: The Dupin Stories" is a fantastic listen. The collection includes all three of Poe's famous "Dupin" mysteries, "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," "The Purloined Letter." and "The Mystery of Marie Rogêt," and also includes the (very good, but not Dupin) story "Thou Art the Man."
The stories are read by Bronson Pinchot, whom you'll remember from his role as "Balki" on the sitcom "Perfect Strangers." This wasn't the greatest TV ever produced, and Pinchot's scenery-chewing comedy accent work was often over the top, but what little laughs Strangers evoked inevitably belonged to him.
Pinchot's funny accent work is quite unexpectedly perfect for the Dupin stories, featuring as they do the semi-hysterical Prefect of the Paris police, "G____," who is wont to burst into peals of lunatic laughter whenever Dupin calls his sagacity into question. Pinchot's reading, with its special attention to G____'s eccentricities, makes the Prefect into an unexpected scene-stealer, and to good effect.
We tend to think of Sherlock Holmes as the literary forebear of the modern detective story, but Poe's Dupin predates Holmes by more than 40 years, and Poe's detective stories are really the first of the genre. But they're not only fascinating as historical antecedants -- they're cracking stories in their own right, and have lots to recommend them over Holmes, Watson and Lestrade.
C. Auguste Dupin is a dissolute aristocrat who lives in a crumbling mansion with his companion, an unnamed Anglo narrator who fills in for Watson. Read the rest
I've just finished listening to Crossroad Press's audio adaptation of Poppy Z Brite's classic debut novel, Lost Souls. Lost Souls was first published in 1992, when I was working as a bookseller, and while I loved it then (and sold it by the crate, shoving it into the hands of everyone who came into the store), I haven't read it since. Brite wrote some very celebrated vampire fiction around that period, characterized by romantic and gritty portrayals of subcultures and dropouts, homoerotic imagery, and explicit, graphic violence; all in all, a potent cocktail, and I very much enjoyed it then.
Brite later moved away from the vampire stuff, and began to write novels about New Orleans restaurateurs. Some of Brite's fans were displeased by this, but I really like these books too. I got the impression through mutual friends that Brite had disavowed her earlier work and wasn't happy to be known for it, so I was surprised to see a new adaptation of Lost Souls. The people at Crossroad assure me that the edition has Brite's approval, though.
The adaptation is good and sometimes great. The reader, Chris Patton, does generally excellent work with Brite's material, and the production values are very high, with the exception of a couple of minor read-os -- nothing fatal or even particularly off-putting. At $12.99 for 12 hours' worth of DRM-free MP3, this is a damned good bargain.
And what's more, it is a brilliant book, even more enjoyable today, 20 years later, than it was when I first read it. Read the rest
At long last, I have finally launched my self-published short story collection With a Little Help.
With a Little Help is my first serious experiment in self-publishing. I've published many novels, short story collections, books of essays and so on with publishers, and it's all been very good and satisfying and educational and so on, but it seems like it's time to try something new.
You see, I've always released my work under open licenses from the Creative Commons project, so that my readers could share and remix my works. A good number of these readers wanted to know why I didn't distribute the physical book as well, and see what a writer working on his own could do.
So here you have it. With a Little Help, consists of 12 stories, all reprints except for "Epoch," which was commissioned by the Ubuntu project's Mark Shuttleworth for $10,000 (this being the most expensive option for buying the book -- don't worry, there are cheaper editions). The book is available in many forms:
* Paperback, on demand from Lulu.com: $18. Available in four covers, with art by Frank Wu, Rick Lieder, Rudy Rucker, and Pablo Defendini (who also did the book's design, working from John Berry's wonderful typography). Every month, I add a new appendix to this edition, detailing my balance sheet for the project, as a service to others contemplating a similar venture. Read the rest
Last year, I reviewed Peter and Max, the excellent novel based on Bill Willingham's Fables graphic novels. I've just got through listening to the Brilliance Audio unabridged audiobook, read by nerd icon and kick-ass voice-actor Wil Wheaton. Highly, highly recommended: Wil's interpretation makes this feel more like a radio drama than an audiobook. Read the rest
Argon Verlag, publishers of the German audiobook edition of my novel Little Brother, are fed up with all the man-the-barricades talk about audiobook piracy. So they commissioned a very high quality reading of the German text, read by Oliver Rohrbeck, a beloved German voice-actor (star of the long-running radio drama Die Drei ??? and overdub voice of Ben Stiller). The abridgement is being sold on six CDs for €19.95.
Fans of the abridged reading and everyone else who is interested in the audiobook are being asked to pay in towards a full, free, unabridged release, also read by Rohrbeck. Once the total of €9000 is raised, the unabridged recording will also be released, free of charge, without DRM, under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license, free for all comers (if the total sum isn't raised by a set time, all the money is refunded).
What's even cooler is that the audiobook (and the German print book, from Rowohlt), co-exist happily with a free fan-translation of the novel by Christian Wöhrl and a free fan audiobook reading by Fabian Neidhardt. Fans are free to promote the work to other fans, for free, while commercial operators produce commercial editions.
I'm going on a multi-city tour of Germany in September and I'm hoping to meet Christian and Fabian so that I can thank them in person. I'm also hoping that fans of the free editions support my cool, sharing-friendly German publishers and reward them for their open attitude towards free and paid media.
I've just set up a store selling direct MP3 downloads of the Random House audiobook for my last novel, Makers, thanks to the good offices of Random House Audio, the eShop WordPress plugin, and Mike Little, my WordPress tech guy.
The Makers audiobook runs 18.5 hours and is formatted for burning onto 15 CDs. It's read by Bernadette Dunne. I really like Dunne's reading (here's a sample) and RHA's production job is tops. The MP3s are 128K/44KHz.
I get an additional 20 percent on top of my customary royalty if you buy it from me, and you get a book that has no DRM and no crappy "license agreement" requiring you to turn over your firstborn in exchange for the privilege of handing me your hard-earned money.
Right now, sales are only available through PayPal, though I hope that'll change soon. And if this is successful, I hope to add the audio for Little Brother and my forthcoming YA novel, For the Win.
This installment of the Brads webcomic shows the 22 steps a reader has to take in order to borrow a DRM-crippled audiobook from the public library. A compelling argument for libraries to boycott this stuff.XKCD strip explains how DRM creates piracy My DRM and ebooks talk from O'Reilly Tools of Change for ... DRM-free Kindle books: are they any free-er? Stupid DRM, abusive EULAs, hopeless ecommerce: why I'm not even ... O'Reilly drops ebook DRM, sees 104% increase in sales Obama's diplomatic gift to UK leader fubared by DRM Read the rest
In my latest Publishers Weekly column, I explain why I'm not even going to try to sell downloads of the audiobook of the my forthcoming experimental short story collection, With a Little Help: Apple won't carry it without DRM; Audible won't carry it without an abusive EULA; and all the major digital delivery systems are crufty and needlessly complicated.
Read the rest
For my next book, Makers, we tried again. This time Audible agreed to carry the title without DRM. Hooray! Except now there was a new problem: Apple refused to allow DRM-free audiobooks in the Apple Store--yes, the same Apple that claims to hate DRM. Okay, we thought, we'll just sell direct through Audible, at least it's a relatively painless download process, right? Not quite. It turns out that buying an audiobook from Audible requires a long end-user license agreement (EULA) that bars users from moving their Audible books to any unauthorized device or converting them to other formats. Instead of DRM, they accomplish the lock-in with a contract.
I came up with what I thought was an elegant solution: a benediction to the audio file: "Random House Audio and Cory Doctorow, the copyright holders to this recording, grant you permission to use this book in any way consistent with your nation's copyright laws." This is a good EULA, I thought, as it stands up for every word of copyright law. Random House was game, too. Audible wasn't. So we decided not to sell through Audible, which I was intensely bummed about, because I really like Audible.
The audiobook of my latest novel, Makers has been published by Random House Audio, strictly in DRM-free formats over the net (this means that Apple won't carry it in the iTunes store, even though Audible was willing to carry it without DRM).
The reading is by Bernadette Dunne, a very talented actor. I just listened to this for the first time yesterday and I was blown away by Dunne's reading. I'm a huge audiobook nut, and I'm incredibly glad to have professional audiobook adaptations of my books from Random House -- and doubly grateful to them for supporting my commitment to DRM-free distribution. When you buy this book, you own it. The "terms of service" are "Don't violate copyright law," not "By buying this audiobook, you agree that we get to come over and kick you in the ass."