Accio Harry Potter Audiobook

(Note: NO SPOILERS in this post!)

I'm a latecomer to this whole Harry Potter thing, but am no less enthusiastic about the recent release of the final volume. Last Fall, I got into the series by buying The Complete Harry Potter (also: currently-nonfunctional iTunes link), a then-$249 collection which included the first six audiobooks, expertly narrated by Jim Dale. Yes, this is crazy expensive for any digital purchase. But according to iTunes, this is 3.9 days of narration, comprising 1.34 GB of data. That's a heck of a lot of audio! It took me months to get through the first six books via iPod. And for what it's worth, Dale's performance is the best I've heard for an audiobook.

To seal the deal for iPod owners like me, iTunes is the only digital option for Harry Potter -- Audible and competitors don't carry the Harry Potter series at all, presumably due to the high royalties (and thus high sticker prices on the audiobooks) that are involved in this hot commodity. Yes, you could buy the CD audiobooks and import them if you had a lot of time on your hands, but it could take a while -- the unabridged series should just about fit on 76 CDs. (Note: Audiobook Builder helps.)

So when the final Harry Potter book was released, I wondered: will it show up on iTunes at one minute past midnight, just like the physical books? Well, the short answer was: no. Leading up to the book's release, fans speculated about when the audiobook would hit iTunes. They (and I, ever-refreshing in iTunes) took note when The Complete Harry Potter was pulled from iTunes on Saturday, though the books were still available (and topping the audiobook charts) individually. Would the new audiobook come Sunday? No. Monday? Um, not so much.

As it stands now, audiobook fans can pick up the 17-disc CD set for nearly $50 on Amazon. There is no word from Apple on when the audiobook will hit iTunes, but you can join in the speculation if you've got an idea. As for me? I bought the "old fashioned" book -- yes, made out of ANALOG PAPER -- and starting churning through it on Sunday. And as I read, all I hear is Jim Dale's voice narrating in my head! (Though I should note that seeing the spelling of terms like "accio" and "veritaserum" for the first time is a bit of a shock.)

Oh, and please no spoilers in the comments!

Nate D. Sanders Auctions
Sylvia Plath's Pulitzer Prize in Poetry Is Up for Auction
Nate D. Sanders Auctions
Nate D. Sanders Auctions

A Pulitzer Prize in Poetry that was awarded posthumously to Sylvia Plath in 1982 for her book The Collected Poems will be auctioned on June 28. The Los Angeles-based Nate D. Sanders Auctions says bidding for the literary document will start at $40,000.

The complete book of Plath’s poetry was published in 1981—18 years after her death—and was edited by her husband, fellow poet Ted Hughes. The Pulitzer Prize was presented to Hughes on Plath’s behalf, and one of two telegrams sent by Pulitzer President Michael Sovern to Hughes read, “We’ve just heard that the Collected Plath has won the Pulitzer Prize. Congratulations to you for making it possible.” The telegrams will also be included in the lot, in addition to an official congratulatory letter from Sovern.

The Pultizer’s jury report from 1982 called The Collected Poems an “extraordinary literary event.” It went on to write, “Plath won no major prizes in her lifetime, and most of her work has been posthumously published … The combination of metaphorical brilliance with an effortless formal structure makes this a striking volume.”

Ted Hughes penned an introduction to the poetry collection describing how Plath had “never scrapped any of her poetic efforts,” even if they weren’t all masterpieces. He wrote:

“Her attitude to her verse was artisan-like: if she couldn’t get a table out of the material, she was quite happy to get a chair, or even a toy. The end product for her was not so much a successful poem, as something that had temporarily exhausted her ingenuity. So this book contains not merely what verse she saved, but—after 1956—all she wrote.”

Also up for auction is Plath’s Massachusetts driver’s license from 1958, at which time she went by the name Sylvia P. Hughes. Bidding for the license will begin at $8000.

Plath's driver's license
Nate D. Sanders Auctions
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0
New 'Eye Language' Lets Paralyzed People Communicate More Easily
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0

The invention of sign language proved you don't need to vocalize to use complex language face to face. Now, a group of designers has shown that you don't even need control of your hands: Their new type of language for paralyzed people relies entirely on the eyes.

As AdAge reports, "Blink to Speak" was created by the design agency TBWA/India for the NeuroGen Brain & Spine Institute and the Asha Ek Hope Foundation. The language takes advantage of one of the few motor functions many paralyzed people have at their disposal: eye movement. Designers had a limited number of moves to work with—looking up, down, left, or right; closing one or both eyes—but they figured out how to use these building blocks to create a sophisticated way to get information across. The final product consists of eight alphabets and messages like "get doctor" and "entertainment" meant to facilitate communication between patients and caregivers.

Inside of a language book.
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

This isn't the only tool that allows paralyzed people to "speak" through facial movements, but unlike most other options currently available, Blink to Speak doesn't require any expensive technology. The project's potential impact on the lives of people with paralysis earned it the Health Grand Prix for Good at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity earlier in June.

The groups behind Blink to Speak have produced thousands of print copies of the language guide and have made it available online as an ebook. To learn the language yourself or share it with someone you know, you can download it for free here.

[h/t AdAge]


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