Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer


by Rob - November 23rd, 2006.
Filed under: Uncategorized.

A legally blind US reader sent me an email urging me to have my books made into commercial audiobooks, and to also have them produced as talking books by the US National Library Service for the Blind; she also suggested who she thought would make a great narrator. Here’s what I had to say in reply; it pretty much applies to all modern SF writers whose names aren’t Asimov, Bujold, Card, Clarke, Crichton, Heinlein, or Herbert <grin>:

Believe me, I wish my books were available on commercial audio, but I have no say in the matter. Most of the authors done as audio books are New York Times bestselling authors — and I (and most SF writers) are a long way from being one of those.

My publisher — not me — controls the audio rights to my books, and the publisher would gladly license those rights to anyone who was willing to purchase them. But although you’re correct that the audio book market is growing, it’s still less than 5% of the print book market in unit volume, and so only books selling huge numbers of copies in print are attractive to audio-book publishers. And, I must say, even if my books were produced in audio format, I’d have no say in who did the narration; that would be entirely up to the company licensing the books.

Actually, one of my books IS available unabridged commercially on cassette: The Terminal Experiment, from Recorded Books. But that’s the only one, and it was done almost a decade ago. You can find out about it here.

As for the National Library Service for the Blind, again, I have no control over what books they produce. Almost all authors, myself included, give permission in their publishing contracts for their books to be read for free on audio for the visually impaired — beyond that, it’s up to the Library Service to actually do it; I’ve already given the permission.

As you’ve discovered, in my native Canada, most of my books ARE available as talking books from the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB). I’d suggest you ask the National Library Service in the US either if they could get the CNIB editions for you, or if they’d do their own; as I said, I’ve already signed the contracts that give them the permission to do so, so they just have to learn that there’s a demand for my books. <grin>

Many thanks for your kind words!

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