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Argon Verlag, publishers of the German audiobook edition of my novel Little Brother, are fed up with all the man-the-barricades talk about audiobook piracy. So they commissioned a very high quality reading of the German text, read by Oliver Rohrbeck, a beloved German voice-actor (star of the long-running radio drama Die Drei ??? and overdub voice of Ben Stiller). The abridgement is being sold on six CDs for €19.95.

Fans of the abridged reading and everyone else who is interested in the audiobook are being asked to pay in towards a full, free, unabridged release, also read by Rohrbeck. Once the total of €9000 is raised, the unabridged recording will also be released, free of charge, without DRM, under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license, free for all comers (if the total sum isn’t raised by a set time, all the money is refunded).

What’s even cooler is that the audiobook (and the German print book, from Rowohlt), co-exist happily with a free fan-translation of the novel by Christian W√∂hrl and a free fan audiobook reading by Fabian Neidhardt. Fans are free to promote the work to other fans, for free, while commercial operators produce commercial editions.

I’m going on a multi-city tour of Germany in September and I’m hoping to meet Christian and Fabian so that I can thank them in person. I’m also hoping that fans of the free editions support my cool, sharing-friendly German publishers and reward them for their open attitude towards free and paid media.

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