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More Info on Audio Books

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Posted by: Melissa
June 08, 2003, 12:05 AM

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal contained an article on the audio book version of OotP. You must subscribe to the WSJ to view the article there, but here are some of the relevant quotes.

The recorded book lasts 26 hours and 30 minutes -- the sports equivalent of attending more than nine Major League Baseball games.

The tale of the teenage wizard occupies 17 cassette tapes and 23 compact discs. Jim Dale, who narrated the four earlier Harry Potter audiobooks, takes on the personas of 134 different characters this time around.

Security for the new title is extremely tight. David Naggar, president of Random House Diversified Publishing Group, which includes audiobooks, says that every employee at the manufacturing plant has to pass through a system that detects CDs and cassettes. In addition, the finished audiobooks are held in locked cages overseen by a security guard. Every employee working in the assembly area must wear a special badge, and all have to sign affidavits. "It's as tight as airport security," he says.

Outside the U.S., many Harry fans will have to wait months to obtain an audiobook version of "Phoenix." In Britain, the audiobook will be issued Sept. 22 by BBC Worldwide, the commercial unit of British Broadcasting Corp., through the Cover to Cover Ltd. imprint of BBC Audiobooks. The voices are all supplied by actor and author Stephen Fry, who also did the previous Harry titles for BBC Worldwide.

In the Netherlands, the audiobook is expected to come out in November, about the same time as the Dutch version of the book. All the voices will be handled by Jan Meng, the voice of many other children's books. Because the English language is more precise than Dutch, he says, many Dutch translations are 20% longer than the English original, so he expects the Dutch audiobook of Harry to run around 30 hours. "It's a lot of work," he says, "but I'm now doing Tolkien, which is 1,700 pages, so everything after that will be easy."

Eileen Hutton, president of the Audio Publishers Association, says travel-industry forecasts indicate there could be a strong bump in domestic U.S. car trips this summer, which in turn will likely boost Harry Potter sales. "It cuts down on the are-we-there-yet factor," she says.

That said, counting down at thirteen days... are we there yet?


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