Neil Gaiman says “read it aloud”

/ 13 February 2009

Neil has had a good month. Coraline’s opening was big at the box office, and The Graveyard Book won the Newbury. Woo hoo! But then he found himself arguing with his agent: she thinks text-to-speech infringes on audiobook rights, he thinks buying a book means buying a right to more than glancing at the pages.

When you buy a book, you’re also buying the right to read it aloud, have it read to you by anyone, read it to your children on long car trips, record yourself reading it and send that to your girlfriend etc. This is the same kind of thing, only without the ability to do the voices properly, and no-one’s going to confuse it with an audiobook. And that any authors’ societies or publishers who are thinking of spending money on fighting a fundamentally pointless legal case would be much better off taking that money and advertising and promoting what audio books are and what’s good about them with it.

In the agent’s world, Kindle reading the book aloud from the text is an infringement. In our litigious society she may be right. But authors like Neil may stand up and say, as he does, “We must stop this.” If they do, then perhaps we will loose a bit more creative energy on the world.

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