by Dave Giorgio
First, abridgment is usually something asked for by a book publisher when the publisher feels a lengthy book can be shortened to make it practical to publish as an audio book. Put that way, it sounds like something pushed for by the book publisher and a situation where the author gets short changed. After all, most authors consider their book to be ideal, as written.
But there's much more to this than meets that first glance. In some cases, a publisher just can't swing the cost of creating the audio version of a long title. So it may come down to doing the audio version or not. If the publisher owns the audio rights, then the audio book might not be feasible; and there may be no option left for the author.
And if the audio version never gets released, that could be a serious blow to both the author and the publisher. How serious a blow? Consider that audio rights are extremely coveted by publishers; that audio book publishers are scrambling to acquire audio book rights every single day in order to publish audio versions of titles, even back lists.
So when abridgment is the only option, we embrace it. But not only because it may be the vehicle that gets the book into audio format. One of the beautiful things about abridgment is the straight forward nature with which a book can be re-rendered. The stark nature of the result is akin to the beauty of black and white photography. Yes, there is less color. And somehow the subject is enhanced.
And for writers who embrace the abridgment process with a positive outlook, many are able to view their work with new eyes and enjoy the process. There is a challenge involved with streamlining your own work. But those who do so and enjoy the process find that it makes them better writers in the long run.
And when that abridged audio book hits the streets, earns sales on its own, and then drives sales for the full length, printed version, the success acquired makes it all worthwhile.
Photo coutesy of Zsuzsanna Kilian.