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Gaiman on MP3 Audio Books, Mirrormask

Hemos posted more than 8 years ago | from the changing-the-world-one-book-at-a-time dept.

Books 171

A reader writes: "It appears that Neil Gaiman released two of his books (Anansi Boys and American Gods) as books on CD. The interesting twist is that they are being released as MP3 - which for the world of audio books is something pretty new. ". Indeed; MP3 audio books, I think, have given the book publishers the willies because of the DRM issue - anyone else seen this before? And also worth noting that Mirrormask was released in motion picture form and rocks. I think to describe it would be equal parts The Dark Crystal and Myst, combine with Carnivale and a dash of The City of Lost Children.

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i call it the THUMB UP ASS FIRST POST (0, Offtopic)

eh0d is my daddy (825041) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809023)

completely randomly went to slashdot,

got a first post. Must be my... lucky day...

What's it like...? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13809044)

What's it like to grow up with a name like Gaiman?
It's got to be rough.

Re:What's it like...? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13809057)

Why do you think he wrote a book called A Nancy Boy?

Re:What's it like...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13809804)

Sigh... yeah, a few of us actually know Neil's last name is pronounced "Gay man" not "Guy man."

  In any case, he's married, has a couple of kids, and I think was even born when the word gay still predominantly meant happy, so I'm guessing it wasn't much of a problem and he probably didn't get much teasing about it until later in life... like now. I could tell you a lot more personal stuff about him but since he values his privacy, I will only refer you to his web page, where you can read his biography: http://www.neilgaiman.com/ [neilgaiman.com]

TFArticle? (3, Informative)

Gulthek (12570) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809050)

The writeup seems to indicate that Gaiman is actually announcing something or recently held an interview, yet the only links in the story are to the front page of his website and to his books.

Audible dot com (1)

Darth Muffin (781947) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809096)

It's been possible to download in MP3 format from Audible.com for a while now. They aren't DRM restricted but I believe they are watermarked so if they're distributed they can be traced back. You can also download and burn to ordinary audio CDs, which I've never done but obviously can't be copy protected.

Re:Audible dot com (2, Insightful)

grahams (5366) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809126)

Audible has always used their own in-house DRM format, not MP3, so you got that wrong... (they do have a version of their file format that uses MP3 audio internally, but it is still wrapped in their DRM envelope).

You can, however, burn the books to unencrypted audio CDs...

Re:Audible dot com (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13809158)

You can also open the Audible format in Goldwave and convert to mp3. I only do this as a convenience for myself, however. I think Audible has one of the best internet entertainment services around. Much better than iTunes...my online library is HUGE (two audiobooks a month for $20/mo).

Re:Audible dot com (1)

grahams (5366) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809211)

A way around a DRM method? That's surprising... ;)

Oh, and I don't disagree that Audible is a fantastic service, I've subscribed for years... I was just pointing out that the parent was wrong in saying that Audible delivers unprotected MP3 files...

Re:Audible dot com (2, Interesting)

Itchy Rich (818896) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809269)

Audible has always used their own in-house DRM format, not MP3, so you got that wrong.

That's as may be, but I bought The Hitchhikers Guide series one and two on MP3 from Waterstones last year. This story seems like a non-story to me.

Re:Audible dot com (1)

Darth Muffin (781947) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809427)

You are correct grahams, not sure what I was thinking, I could swear I've seen a download as MP3 option on Audible before... My bad, sorry. Audible is still a great service though :)

Re:TFArticle? (1)

grahams (5366) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809106)

No, the article points out that his books have been released on Audio MP3 CD, and the links take you to the pages selling those CDs on Barnes & Noble.

Re:TFArticle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13809160)

To me, he'll always be the guy who wrote that mediocre Babylon-5 script...

Audio books... in general (5, Insightful)

jkind (922585) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809051)

I find the only Audio books that have any effect on me are the instructional kind. For instance, learning a new language such as through the Pimsleur series.
I would be interested in knowing if anyone actually prefers the audio format to traditional page flipping.
In terms of going MP3, wouldn't the author have saved a lot in fees by going OGG, or is acceptance too much of a concern?

Re:Audio books... in general (1)

caffeinex36 (608768) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809085)

audio books are the only thing i use my ipod for. really. also, in th epast 10 years i might have "read" 3-4 books. in the past 2 months ive listened to 6? maybe 7? and they were 15 hour books, davinci code, etc. everything from angels and demons to charlie and the great glass elavator. i only listen to unabridged books and i absolutely am ADDICTED to audiobooks.

Re:Audio books... in general (1)

jkind (922585) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809098)

well you've convinced me

*goes off to find some free (as in free parking) audiobooks to listen to on the run today*

Re:Audio books... in general (1)

DilbertLand (863654) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809650)

Yep, I'm addicted too. I've been listening to 2+ books a month for 4-5 years now. I'd give up cable tv and maybe even home internet access before I give up my Audible.com subscription. I almost look forward to the daily commute now.

Re:Audio books... in general (1)

coke_scp (892822) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809117)

There are alot of DVD players, and a few (too few, it seems) car CD players that support MP3 cd's, and probably mostly don't speak ogg. I have one in my car, it allows me to have alot less disc switching going on. This is especially helpful for a book. My sister is in the process of going blind, so I've been burning her Stephen King's Dark Tower series for her cd player, and it'd save me alot of time if it could stay in MP3.

Re:Audio books... in general (1)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809119)

Don't you only pay a royalty to Thomson et al if you make a device/piece of software which can encode MP3s? So MP3 decoders are not subject to a fee-paying license, and neither are the MP3s either.

Since virtually no-one in the world has an OGG portable player (the market I'd imagine that this guy is interested in - would you want to sit at your desk/laptop to hear a book?), it makes sense to stick with MP3.

I was almost correct, but at the same time quite wrong - no fee is payable if the activity is non-commercial. So maybe he has a fee to pay, but maybe that is offset by the sheer number of MP3 players. see here. [mp3licensing.com] "However, no license is needed for private, non-commercial activities (e.g., home-entertainment, receiving broadcasts and creating a personal music library), not generating revenue or other consideration of any kind or for entities with associated annual gross revenue less than US$ 100 000.00."

Re:Audio books... in general (2, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809419)

"Since virtually no-one in the world has an OGG portable player (the market I'd imagine that this guy is interested in - would you want to sit at your desk/laptop to hear a book?), it makes sense to stick with MP3."
Actually IRiver and RIO both have players that support Ogg. Yes MP3 is a more universal format so using it for a an audio book is the logical choice. Too bad none of the portable players support speex. You could put a a lot of books on a pretty small player that way.

Re:Audio books... in general (2, Informative)

bedroll (806612) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809799)

Actually IRiver and RIO both have players that support Ogg. Yes MP3 is a more universal format so using it for a an audio book is the logical choice.

So does Samsung and iAudio. Last week my wife decided she finally wanted an MP3 player and, since I'd ripped most of our CDs in OGG format, I required that it support OGG. She required that it be "cute". This was far more difficult than one might think.

The first problem: Sorting out which players actually support OGG. Depending on what website you go to to compare, and what manufacturer you use, it can be quite difficult to find which players support OGG. Many of the manufacturers do not support OGG on all players (iRiver, for example). Some players claim OGG support in some places but not others.

The second problem: "What the hell is OGG?" That's what most non-geeks will say. Even some geeks who think that de facto standards trump open standards will give you a queer look when you mention OGG. Certainly you'll run into problems if you walk into Best Buy and say: "I'm looking for an MP3 player with OGG support."

The third problem (not for me, but I'm sure for many): It's not supported on the iPod. Ugh. Yeah yeah, AAC, whatever.

The fourth problem: You've made using iTunes much more difficult. Now you must either burn and copy or use something to strip the DRM. Of course, you could use another service, but then you get Microsoft DRM, which is bleh. Then you have eMusic, which is good accept it's a monthly fee service (the only point of joining a service like that is to get the occasional single, otherwise buying CDs is so much better) and it doesn't have as good of a library. There's the less-than-legal ways to get your music, but they shouldn't be considered (for this argument).

Wow, what a tangent.

Anyway, the flip side of this is when someone gets a player that supports OGG, but doesn't do so purposefully. They read something that says "OGG Vorbis support" and don't know what that is. Then they forget. After that, as far as their concerned, they don't have a way to play that.

Re:Audio books... in general (3, Informative)

QuijiboIsAWord (715586) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809127)

I myself usually have both a regular book and an audiobook in progress, but Audiobooks, even the well acted kind, don't hold a candle to the likes of:
Big Finish http://www.bigfinish.com/ [bigfinish.com] Fantastic scifi audio (mostly Doctor Who related)
or
Noise Monster http://www.noisemonster.com/ [noisemonster.com] .
Anyone wanting something more than an audiobook, but still staying in the audio medium should check out their stuff. It's written and produced directly for the audio, and in the case of Doctor Who from Big Finish, is licensed by the BBC and uses the original cast.

Re:Audio books... in general (1)

Frobisher (677079) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809626)

You beat me to it! The other thing I could suggest is the goldmine of comedy and drama on BBC Radio 4 [bbc.co.uk] and BBC7 [bbc.co.uk] . I use ReplayRadio (free trial [replay-video.com] to rip this stuff to MP3 and listen to it in the car at least 3 days a week, the other 2 usually reserved for Big Finish.

Re:Audio books... in general (2, Informative)

Grfxho (866867) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809150)

I have a copy of two Gaiman plays/monologues on CD. They are fantastic to listen to, but I'm not sure I would feel the same about American Gods--mainly because of the length and number of CDs that traditional audio CDs would involve.

When American Gods was released in print, I was lucky enough to have the first chapter read to me by Gaiman at a signing, and it was fantastic to listen to him read that much of it. But the thought of lugging around multiple CDs (which is traditionally how they come) for one lengthy novel puts me off the audio bit.

I have a copy of The Lord of the Rings trilogy on CD that is supposedly fantastic, but it's almost a spindle-worth of CDs and I can't get into it because of that--what a commitment. And I'd rather carry around a tattered copy of the book than spend the time ripping them to MP3s that I could dump to my iPod so I could have them on the go.

MP3 format should make the audios involve less discs... and that appeals to me. BUT, I don't have an MP3 player in my car, so the disc would be ripped to my computer and dumped on my iPod for transport.

As an aside, Daniel Quinn's book Ishmael was given to me as a book on tape about 10 years ago. I wore it out listening to it and am now searching for another audio copy of that recording.

And I should probably also note that I am generally a very page-turning traditionalist when it comes to my reading...but audio adaptations/recordings do have their place.

Re:Audio books... in general (1)

dave_mcmillen (250780) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809220)

I have a copy of The Lord of the Rings trilogy on CD that is supposedly fantastic, but it's almost a spindle-worth of CDs and I can't get into it because of that--what a commitment. And I'd rather carry around a tattered copy of the book than spend the time ripping them to MP3s that I could dump to my iPod so I could have them on the go.

I listened to LOTR in audio form a few years ago, and my main thought was, "What the hell? They sing and recite poetry all the bloody time!" Turns out, I just edited all that out of the print version, so I had essentially no memory of it. In audio, it was clear that this happened constantly, and it was harder to skim over.

If anyone writes in to urge me to listen carefully to the poetry, and possibly learn Elvish, it will go hard for them.

Re:Audio books... in general (1)

Politburo (640618) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809406)

The LOTR done by "The Mind's Eye" is abridged and cuts out much of the unnecessary bits. I believe it clocks in at 20 hours total.

Re:Audio books... in general (1)

nhstar (452291) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809169)

As someone who's commuted to/from work at about 1.5 - 2 hours each way, by car (mass transit is rubbish from NH to Boston) for years, audio books were my sanity-saver. I can also imagine that since Audio seems to come out far before braille, it opens up all sorts of books for the blind.

Re:Audio books... in general (1)

no reason to be here (218628) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809285)

mass transit is rubbish from NH to Boston

well, to be fair, you were travelling to an entirely different state.

however, assuming that you lived in Salem, NH (a fair assumption, since you were commuting to Boston), you could drive about 26 minutes to reach Lowell, MA and get on the commuter rail. One could also drive to Haverhill, MA (about 8 miles from Salem, NH) and hop on the commuter rail there as well.

Cyclists too (1)

BarryNorton (778694) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809500)

I just wanted to speak up for the more environmentally-conscious commuters too - I listen to audiobooks on the (hour per day) cycling part of my journey into work. What's more, these days find that I most often just continue to listen on the train (the rest of the journey), rather than get a physical book out (which I save for bed)...

Re:Cyclists too (1)

Dr. Evil (3501) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809836)

Where I live, it's illegal to wear headphones on the road, whether in a car or on a bicycle. I also happen to think it a bad idea.

I can't say I blame you for wearing them. I used to do it, but I just don't like the feeling of having cars sneak up on me, and I found cycling with one headphone in my ear isn't much more safe, so for me, it's nothing but wind and car engines.

Re:Audio books... in general (5, Insightful)

dave_mcmillen (250780) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809187)

I would be interested in knowing if anyone actually prefers the audio format to traditional page flipping.

For certain applications, I find that they're much better. Basically, they're great for "hands free" reading, in situations where you couldn't conveniently (or safely) read a book, like while exercising, doing housework, walking around (remembering to use your eyes extra carefully to subsitute for your occupied ears when, say, crossing streets).

Also, a good performance by the narrator can do great things for a book. There are some very fine voice actors reading these books, and the best of them are fantastic. Other narrators are, well, less fantastic. It's very much a personal preference issue, though: heated arguments over the quality of the narrator regularly break out in the reviews over at Audible.com. (Like another poster, I use my iPod mainly for audiobooks, and I've been doing Audible's two-books-a-month subscription plan for years, now. Not free, but affordable enough for me.)

One free audio book I can recommend is "Free Culture" by Lawrence Lessig, which a bunch of people recorded into an audio book, which was permitted by Lessig's release of the book under a Creative Commons license. You can find it over at www.legaltorrents.com. The narrators are enthusiastic rather than skilled, in some cases, but the material is so interesting that it's easy to forgive the occasional lapses.

Re:Audio books... in general (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809191)

In terms of going MP3, wouldn't the author have saved a lot in fees by going OGG, or is acceptance too much of a concern?

Do you have to pay fees to distribute MP3s? That stinks. I though they just charged for encoders/decoders.

And yes, I would think that if someone is trying to distribute audio to a mass audience, it would help to go with a file format that most people will have a decoder for. That's the problem with these things-- it's a catch 22. Pretty much no one will use it until the decoder is ubiquitous, and pretty much no one will bother distributing the decoder until people are using it.

Re:Audio books... in general (2, Insightful)

Anitra (99093) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809257)

Audio books are excellent time-fillers for long car trips, where reading a traditional book would give me motion-sickness. It's also a good way to "share" a book with other people; much like watching a movie together with your friends.

My personal favorites are audiobooks that are staged like radio drama, with multiple voice-actors and sound effects. Listening to these encourages me to use my imagination as if I was reading the book - what do the characters look like? What are they doing now? What was that "thump" just now?

Re:Audio books... in general (2, Funny)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809456)

Audio books are excellent time-fillers for long car trips, where reading a traditional book would give me motion-sickness.
Personally, I find that I usually crash before the motion sickness sets in. YMMV.

Re:Audio books... in general (1)

dingosatemybaby (826261) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809370)

Absolutely prefer MP3's to traditional page flipping out of necessity. I have a 2 hour round trip commute each day and that's the only way I have time to 'read' anything. I still try to find time at home w/the wife & 3 kids but by the time the house is quiet enough for me to read, I'm pretty much nodding off after a couple pages.

Audio Performances (1)

Tungbo (183321) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809488)

is what the best audio books present. Even the unabridged one, the narrator makes a great deal of difference. For example, the "Rumpole of the Bailey" series and "The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents" had excellent performances which added to the enjoyment of the written words. In contrast, the "Xenocide" performance was marred by fake Chinese accents that was entirely irrelevant and sterotypical.

"American God" was fine on audio tape. THe lenth was not a problem to me at all, but I do drive a great deal!

There are surprising gems as well. The essay "Stickeen" by John Muir totally 'blew me away'. The recital of a journey over the glaciers that manages to be plain yet exalts in the glories of Life. It is by far, the best I've heard in years.

I liked the Mirrormask art works, but the story is just too weak. Not as good as Coraline, closer to Neverwhere. There was not enough emotional connections, in terms of peril or empathy. Doesn't reach the wonder and polish of "City of Lost Children".

Re:Audio books... in general (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809553)

"I would be interested in knowing if anyone actually prefers the audio format to traditional page flipping."

I don't know if I prefer the audio format, but I do find it entertaining. I've listened to audio books while doing some mind numbing stuff at work. Great way to kill a few hours, but they often leave stuff out of the text version of the book. The Return of the Jedi audio play was kinda neat. Not precisely a book on CD, but it made my drive across country a little more interesting.

"In terms of going MP3, wouldn't the author have saved a lot in fees by going OGG, or is acceptance too much of a concern?"

Nope. MP3 fees are paid when you produce software that encodes MP3 audio. The book publisher, other than buying the software that can encode in MP3 format, isn't paying any additional fees. The MP3 fee was probably paid long before this audio book went for sale.

audio modules for developers/programmers (1)

DeveloperAdvantage (923539) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809567)

In my spare time, I am working on developing audio training modules for developers/programmers:

http://www.developeradvantage.com/products.html [developeradvantage.com]

I only have one finished, but expect to roll out a few more by the end of the year.

audiobook mp3s (4, Informative)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809064)

Re:audiobook mp3s (1)

nothingbutcoupons (923501) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809198)

Audible.com
"Choose from 23,000 Titles and Periodicals. Perfect for your iPod/MP3/WMA Player!" In fact, you can get 3 FREE Audio Books when you sign up.

There's a link at www.nothingbutcoupons.com.

Gorgeous movie, well worth seeing (4, Interesting)

Chuckaluphagus (111487) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809074)

Saw it this past Friday, it's an amazing movie. The direction and art design is by Dave McKean; his style is absolutely beautiful, but it might throw some people off. I loved it.

After the show a friend noted that it has a feel very similar to "The Neverending Story", and I think that's accurate.

Huh? (5, Funny)

QuijiboIsAWord (715586) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809079)

Mirrormask was released in motion picture form and rocks.


Anyone else wondering exactly how you market Mirrormask brand gravel?

Re:Huh? (1)

tabacco (145317) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809218)

Aw... I was hoping for official Mirrormask pet rocks :)

Re:Huh? (1)

BushCheney08 (917605) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809311)

I was hoping for a floating giant balloon...

Harry Potter has been available at ITunes.. (5, Informative)

maddogdelta (558240) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809080)

And Baen books [baen.com] has been releasing some of their books as mp3 audiobooks.

Not huge yet, but let's face it... as far as security is concerned, If you can get the cd, you can rip to mp3. I do that all the time to get books to listen to while I'm running. Angela's Ashes will be playing for me during a marathon this weekend.

(For you national socialists at RIAA, no, I am not posting the mp3's. This is for my own fair use)

A message from the RIAA (1)

doublem (118724) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809360)

Hello, I work for the RIAA.

Fair use is a myth. You are guilty of piracy.

Please send your check for $24,000 to the RIAA with the next 30 days, or we will initiate legal proceedings.

Re:Harry Potter has been available at ITunes.. (4, Funny)

rholliday (754515) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809412)

You're listening to Angela's Ashes during a marathon? Are you trying to lose, or does deep depression make you run faster? :)

MP3 audio CDs in my public library (4, Interesting)

standards (461431) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809092)

The interesting twist is that they are being released as MP3 - which for the world of audio books is something pretty new.

My local public library has had a special section for MP3-based audio CDs for at least a year now. The only issue is that many traditional CD players in homes and in cars can't play MP3 CDs. But I'd rather have one MP3 CD versus 15 traditional audio CDs. Admittedly, it's a pretty darn good local library.

And regarding DRM - hell, regular audio CDs aren't DRM'd, so the execs don't need to worry about theft from an MP3 CD any more than they have to worry about theft from a regular audio CD. After all, an MP3 is only one rip away.

Re:MP3 audio CDs in my public library (1)

jdgreen7 (524066) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809810)

I had the same experience a few months ago when I stopped at my local library before a road trip. I was amazed that they carried MP3 Audiobooks, so I grabbed a couple of them. No DRM, worked great on the car MP3 CD player, and displayed normally on the computer as well. When I went to check out, the librarian was apparently just as shocked. She asked, "This is an entire book?!" Apparently, the stock the shelves, but never open the covers.

MP3 audio supported by Library of Congress (4, Informative)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809102)

MP3 audio is supported in the latest Digital Talking Books standard used by the Library of Congress (ANSI/NISO Z39.86). The LOC is looking for contractors now to produce DTBs for the blind and visually imparied, so you'll be seeing a lot of these (or perhaps hearing them) soon. Digital distribution of talking books should result in more affordable equipment for playing the media and easier mass duplication.

Re:MP3 audio supported by Library of Congress (1)

MrAtoz (58719) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809504)

Actually, although MP3 is supported by the ANSI/NISO Digital Talking Book standard, the LOC will be using some flavor of AAC for their books. And the plan is that they will be DRM'd in some fashion or another. Libraries for the blind enjoy an exemption under the copyright law -- they can produce copies of books without seeking permission of the copyright holder, so long as they are in "specialized formats" serving people with disabilities. DRM will be applied to the LOC books to "specialize" them and hence conform to the law. And, FYI, the current generation of analog audio books from LOC manage this by using 4-track cassette tape -- a special format if ever I heard of one.

Re:MP3 audio supported by Library of Congress (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809752)

The "half-speed" thing is what really makes the cassette talking book a specialized format (15/16 ips vs. 1 7/8 ips). Talking books sound like The Chipmunks on a regular cassette player. All cassettes ["compact cassetes"(TM)] are four track -- two tracks per side = stereo. The side selection is something you can do on most ordinary cassette players with a balance control. IIRC, talking book side 1 = cassette side one, left track. Talking book side 2 is cassette side 2, left track. TB 3 is cassette side 1, right track, etc. That way they get 6 hours of talking book audio on a 90 minute cassette.

Project Gutenberg - Free MP3 Audio Books (4, Informative)

Tony.Tang (164961) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809105)

Another place for MP3 audio books is Project Gutenberg [gutenberg.org] .

They have collections [gutenberg.org] of both human read mp3 audio books [gutenberg.org] and computer read mp3 audio books [gutenberg.org] (kind of weird).

Re:Project Gutenberg - Free MP3 Audio Books (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13809163)

It's a nice idea, but the current collection is pretty much useless.

Re:Project Gutenberg - Free MP3 Audio Books (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13809598)

I've been listening to the PG computer generated audio mp3's. The computer isn't that bad. There is a little adapting and a few quirks, e.g. she becomes s' he. Otherwise PG is doing a pretty good thing. I recommend them. AC

mp3 audio books have been around forever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13809109)

mp3 audiobooks have been around for many years on p2p file sharing networks.

Isis publishing / Terry Pratchett audio book (4, Informative)

chiark (36404) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809110)

Isis publishing has been releasing compressed format audio books for a couple of years. It makes sense, after all would you prefer 1 disc, or 11 discs, if you're manufacturing and shipping the things? OK, they currently use WMA, but at least they're trying :-)

If you put the stuff out on CD it will be ripped, end of story (no pun intended). If you can reduce your costs significantly and provide the same thing, then why not do it? It's not like audio books need --alt-preset extreme applied to 'em, is it?

MP3s of audio books are excellent for long car journeys, etc, so more power to the elbow of those making them: I'll keep buying them.

DRM not worth the bother (1)

Douglas Simmons (628988) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809125)

Not for nothing, but I'd wager that the bookworms among us, audio form notwithstanding, are a little less likely to wear t-shirts with the DeCSS code, plus it would make a lot more sense to keep things simple in the format most likely to be supported by CD players (in this case, most often car radios which tend to be newer than Joe Audiobookguy's hi-fi back home).

Also, in addition to being a whole to-do schlep for publishers, DRM-like functions have had history with pissing the public off (remember that Beatie Boys album?).

bt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13809131)


torrent plz :P

Get the MPAA and RIAA out of my pants. (1, Funny)

Council (514577) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809135)

Having just reread American Gods, let me just say that I totally forgot what a superb author Gaiman is. I highly recommend this book -- I bought it, on a whim, on the recommendation of a shouting crazy guy in a bookstore. It was a good choice!

And I commend him for this mp3 thing. I think that a night or two ago I switched sides on the DRM issue. I was on the fence -- it seems like it's hard to do anything but let the digital world happen, but, you know, hopefully (RIAA greed aside) people should be able to get money for their work.

But last night, I found myself curled up with comfy blankets, half a bottle of rum, a DVD, and this beautiful, brilliant, and generally amazing girl I had recently met. This was a new DVD she had brought over, bought straight from a store. I put it in my computer, tried to play it, and saw a message about failed authentication. None of my players worked. They all said that the DVD could not be played because of DRM. One player asked me to go and send a long page of identifying information before watching the DVD.

We never got to watch the DVD. We found an appropriate replacement among my pirated movies and the night was salvaged. But I think that may have marked my "Fuck the MPAA" turning point. Suddenly I sympathize with the "fuck off and don't tell me what to do with my data" contingent.

So I wholeheartedly approve of Neil's mp3 release, even if I don't know how it will work as a business model given rampant piracy. But keep the MPAA, the RIAA, and Mr. Gaiman out of my pants.

Re:Get the MPAA and RIAA out of my pants. (3, Funny)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809168)

I put it in my computer, tried to play it, and saw a message about failed authentication. None of my players worked. They all said that the DVD could not be played because of DRM.

Huh? What kind of Slashdotter would receive an error like that? Don't we all use mplayer, or xine with libdvdcss? No way do we ever run into copyprotection issues with a DVD! j00 s|_|X0R, l4m3r!

Oh, hang on...

last night, I found myself curled up with comfy blankets, half a bottle of rum, a DVD, and this beautiful, brilliant, and generally amazing girl I had recently met.

Fine. You win...

Re:Get the MPAA and RIAA out of my pants. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13809207)

I bought it, on a whim, on the recommendation of a shouting crazy guy in a bookstore.

GREAT, I'M GLAD YOU LIKED IT. FREEMASONS RUN THE COUNTRY!

Re:Get the MPAA and RIAA out of my pants. (1)

Finuvir (596566) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809497)

After all of the contributions Anonymous Coward has made to Slashdot in the last decade, how can you cruel-hearted moderators mod the parent post down? "Off-topic"? It's funny! Don't worry AC, I still love you.

Re:Get the MPAA and RIAA out of my pants. (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809246)

"But last night, I found myself curled up with comfy blankets, half a bottle of rum, a DVD, and this beautiful brilliant, and generally amazing girl"

Ahh, good to see you have your priorities in order.
Warmth, intoxication, entertainment, then sex. ;)

Judging by my past experiences, she probably wasn't as beautiful, brilliant, or amazing before you drank the first half of the bottle of rum as she was when it was half empty...

Just jealous, pardon the Monday morning bitterness.

Re:Get the MPAA and RIAA out of my pants. (1)

gus goose (306978) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809348)

and this beautiful, brilliant, and generally amazing girl I had recently

You get additional karma if you get her to read the comment you just posted ....

For $5 in my paypal I'll drop her an anonymous e-mail to point her in the right direction.

gus

Wasted Time (1, Redundant)

halo8 (445515) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809143)

I spent 2 hours commuting EVERY DAY
and i allready feel thoes are wasted hours of my life, if i was using public transport i could be reading.
i have an MP3/WMA/CD player in my car (really nice but affordable JVC)

i would love LOVE LOVE to listen to say.. A brief history of time, or the dune books or something like that on an MP3/CD

any by saying LOVE.. i do mean $$$PAY$$$
$40 a book?

Re:Wasted Time (1)

SsShane (754647) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809201)

Audible.com [audible.com]

Dune is available on CD from Borders.

Re:Wasted Time (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809205)

One word: Usenet (audiobook, spoken-word)

Re:Wasted Time (1)

MDMurphy (208495) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809491)

I spend almost the same amount of time and listen to books from Audible.com when I'm not carpooling. DRM and all aside, the prices can't be beat. New releases, unabridged, can be got for $10 each if you subsribe to the 2-books-a-month plan. They have sales a few times a year as well where all books are $10.

I'm always one of the first to complain about DRM, but I can tolerate Audible's. You actually get something for it with them. Books are are 25-40% of their list price and you and download them rather than get something shipped.

Audble has a variety of platforms that will let you listen, including iPods, PocketPCs, Palm OS, and a bunch of other portable players. My current choice is the Nano. A 2GB iPOd Nano can hold around 10 full-sized novels.

Re:Wasted Time (1)

BarryNorton (778694) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809797)

I'm always one of the first to complain about DRM, but I can tolerate Audible's
And they let you burn an audio CD anyway...

Re:Wasted Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13809839)

It only takes a couple of minutes with Google to find out how to deDRM Audible's files (for a non-compatible player of your own, of course, you would never share them...)

Libraries (was Re:Wasted Time) (1)

WillAdams (45638) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809781)

Are you a member of your local library?

Most have decent collections of audio materials on tape and / or CD --- when I was commuting like that, I paid $20 to get a membership in a library near my workplace in addition to the membership I already had in the local library (they weren't reciprocal) and usually managed to have a sufficient selection to keep my mind occupied during the commute --- did get some audio books as gifts, and bought a few others at need, but using the library kept it affordable.

``Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.'' (anyone know who said that? My copy of Bartlett's is at home)

William

Re:Wasted Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13809782)

Go to your local library. Many libraries are now offering MP3 Audio Books for download via the NetLibrary service. Only catch is NetLibrary requires use of WMA compatible players under MS's "Playsforsure" program, which means your iPod is for shit.

Re:Wasted Time (1)

dcroxton (812365) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809789)

Audible's prices are high. My favourite source is Blackstone Audio Books. They do it the old-fashioned way -- shipping disks to you -- but it's great.

Actually ON (1)

AndyBusch (160585) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809146)

He did write in his journal that he thinks the mp3 audiobooks haven't caught on yet. He's done a pile of signings, and as of the DC Book Fest, he said he had only signed one mp3 CD of Anansi Boys.

Bad format, though (2, Informative)

Lauri Alanko (66) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809149)

MP3 is not really optimal for speech. E.g. speex [speex.org] would provide much better quality/bitrate ratio. Sadly, speex is not very well supported. (I would love to have a digital portable recorder with a built-in speex codec.)

Re:Bad format, though (2, Insightful)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809562)

"Bad" is a little strong here: "Sub-optimal" might be more accurate. MP3 can do a pretty good job, so it may get widely adpoted in talking books because it's "good enough".

But I took a look at your cited link, and you may get that portable recorder someday. Looks like there is speex support for several major DSP chip families (TI, Analog) and embedded processors (ARM) + some industry sponsorship.

"A Reader Writes" ???? (1)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809151)

Wouldn't that be more like, "Gaiman's press agent calls Hemos on his cellphone, which he has on speed dial ever since the first time that /. editor fell all over himself gushing about his client" ?

"A Reader Writes" Wow. Not even the pretext of format or decorum any more.

Apple and Harry Potter (1)

OctoberSky (888619) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809154)

I don't know how new this is seeing that Apple has been selling all the Harry Potter books in iTunes since the nano launch. I am assuming thier in MP3 format.

On the same topic, who is getting ripped off when I, you, or your neighbor downloads a book from my, yours, your neighbors favorite program (UseNet is mine). I can't imagine its the RIAA, but the readers of the books might actually be on RIAA contracts.

Anyone know who is going to sue me for downloading an Audio Book?

Re:Apple and Harry Potter (1)

Willis Wasabi (96857) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809322)

They're probably not in MP3 format. Nothing else on the iTunes store is in MP3 format, so why would you think these would be?

I can't even make any sense of the second paragraph...

Re:Apple and Harry Potter (1)

Willis Wasabi (96857) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809337)

Ok, I'll correct myself, free podcasts are in MP3...

Potter is NOT in MP3 Format (1)

doublem (118724) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809380)

The iTunes books are in a DRMed Apple format. You can only play them of five different computers, and on iPods that are properly configured to work with one of those computers.

It's all in the DRM baby.

Re:Apple and Harry Potter (1)

Rocketship Underpant (804162) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809405)

"I don't know how new this is seeing that Apple has been selling all the Harry Potter books in iTunes since the nano launch. I am assuming thier in MP3 format."

They are in AAC format and (unfortunately) encumbered with DRM. They're also ridiculously expensive. But a friend of mine downloaded the same books in MP3 format off a peer-to-peer network.

"On the same topic, who is getting ripped off when I, you, or your neighbor downloads a book..."

No one. And I think there are certainly ways distributing audiobooks via MP3s can be profitable.

"Anyone know who is going to sue me for downloading an Audio Book?"

No one is going to sue you. How would anyone even know what you download off Usenet? And why would they sue you?

Thanks, now I know what I'll be for halloween. (1)

mattkime (8466) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809179)

Indeed; MP3 audio books, I think, have given the book publishers the willies because of the DRM issue

Jimmy, thats a cute costume....but what is it??

I'm a book on MP3! BOOO!

Mirrormask (1)

Have Blue (616) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809182)

I wasn't too impressed with MirrorMask. Visually and aurally it's very nice, but the story would be better off as an adventure game.

Gaiman (-1, Offtopic)

Psionicist (561330) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809186)

30 comments yet and not a single post about the name "Gaiman"! Has the slashdot crowd grown up?

Re:Gaiman (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809281)

Apparently not. ;)

EarthCore (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13809278)

Earth Core is a fantastic novel that was released as a "Podio book." It can be found on PodioBooks.com. High quality, well written and creep-tacular. It's also interesting to note that based on the popularity of the podcast the author got a print deal for the book and is being courted for the movie rights. Sort of a new take on the "vanity press" publications of yore...

DIY (2, Insightful)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809332)

I converted "Fellowship of the Ring" and "The Two Towers" to MP3 for my mom to listen to in her car. At 64kbps mono, you can comfortably fit all 15 CDs of either book to fit on one CD.

It reduces disc switching, which is a potentially serious issue when she's driving.

Mirrormask was a little dissapointing (2, Insightful)

jasongetsdown (890117) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809343)

Maybe I'm asking for too much, but I though Mirrormask was visually stunning, really really gorgeous, but its plot managed to seem both hackneyed and non existant at the same time and the acting was a serious wet blanket on the whole experience.

It was basically Labyrinth turned inside out sans Jennifer Connely and David Bowie.

Re:Mirrormask was a little dissapointing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13809523)

no david bowie? At least thats one point in its favor!

www.audible.com (1)

Pudusplat (574705) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809416)

You've been able to get most any audio book in compressed electronic form for some time now. It's actually pretty cheap.

Audible [audible.com]

You can get a subscription for cheap, which allows you to download a couple books a month for a price far below the traditional cost of audio books.

Audiobooks + Driving = Less Annoying Commute (1)

PhatboySlim (862704) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809441)

I got a little tired of Jerry Springer-esque morning radio talk shows in Chicago, so I switched to listening to audiobooks in the morning. Now, instead of feeling like I potentially lost intelligence listening to a program, I can feel productive and enlightened on the way to/from work. I use my iPod w/ the iTrip FM transmitter. Works like a charm.

In addition to the benefits of a nice commute, it's much easier on my eyes. I hate wearing reading glasses and I hate reading without them, so it's a catch-22. The audio book solves all of that. Praise be to Audible. For some reason their stock (ADBL) has been plummeting recently, and I can't figure why. Seems like a great/innovative idea.

Logical (3, Insightful)

hwestiii (11787) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809457)

MP3 has always seemed like a logical medium for audio books to me. Ever since my wife and son caught the Harry Potter bug a few years ago, they will buy not only the dead-tree version, but also the audio version on CD.

Its always struck me as particularly wasteful that these things were available only as conventional audio. A single book can span 20 or more CDs.

That has always seemed somewhat wasteful to me. I'm presuming that an audio CD of a person reading a book is availing itself of the full harmonic range that would also be applied to a more elaborate production, like a symphony orchestra or a rock or jazz band that would make much fuller use of that range.

Voice telephony is based on transmitting only a narrow band of the harmonic range used by most human voice communication. Putting that narrower range together with the compression techniques available through MP3 or other similar audio formats, it seems to me that number of disks needed to store one of these books could be slashed to a small fraction of what are produced now.

This may only have a negligible effect on the final price of the item, and the popularity of MP3 enabled CD players may not have hit the critical mass needed to make this sort of thing profitable yet, but I'd think that enough popular releases, like Harry Potter or some others, might actually stimulate their adoption, or at least speed it up beyond the current rate.

Mirrormask (1)

CrankyFool (680025) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809486)

I watched Mirrormask with my girlfriend* and two friends last weekend. The visual design was fantastic -- truly beautiful and inventive.

On the other hand, Gaiman's responsible for the plot, and the plot ... sucked. It was basically a regurgitation of a bunch of ideas that have been done elsewhere, better. Child has problems with parent; child goes into dreamworld where their parent is represented by some significant figure; child resolves their issues with parent. Happy ending.

It might do as an OK children's movie, but as much as I'm not a fan of the Harry Potter books, I think the latter books' plots beat it.

But man, the visuals ...

*I'm not making this up.

Public Librarys (1)

caffeinex36 (608768) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809487)

I wish public librarys would had an online function simliar to audible.com Since i listen to so many books, my audible bill is kinda expensive (around 50$ a month!) id LOVE for the public library to offer an audible type service. not sure how they would do it but it would be great.

Re:Public Librarys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13809701)

Acrually, my public library (San Mateo County, California) offers exactly such a service. You can download audio books from their web site. They have some scheme so you can only play it for a certain amount of time, after which you have to renew it or it's virtually returned to the library. This ensures they have to buy multiple copies of popular books and keeps the book publishers happy.

So, it's not a plain MP3 file, but it's a nice start.

And, of course, it's free.

Government Subsidies make the books too expensive (1)

barfy (256323) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809651)

The government subsidizes the blind (ostensibly the largest market) to buy audiobooks. This allows the audio book companies to charge extraordinarily high prices which makes it high for the rest of us. I suspect that if the subsidy went away it would dramatically lower the price and increase the number of audiobooks that are sold. But I also suspect that it would be very hard to stop subsidies for the blind politically.

Saw Mirror Mask...*snooze*... (1)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 8 years ago | (#13809739)

I saw Mirror Mask a couple of weeks ago. While it's a great movie to look at, Gaiman needs to leave things like plot and dialog to someone else. Find a good screenwriter! Concept, art, and execution were fantastic, but the plot was fragmented and a complete snooze.

Ogg Vorbis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13809761)

Great that they release under a non-DRM format such as MP3.
Wish they would release it as .ogg (Ogg Vorbis) too.
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