As one of the indie audiobook publishers, how did you get started?
I started Naxos AudioBooks with Klaus Heymann in 1994 as the audiobook wing of Naxos, the classical music label. Its initial brief was to concentrate on classic literature with classical music—and we made attractive productions of the main titles in abridged form (with music of the period), from Milton and Jane Austen to James Joyce’s Ulysses, Homer, and Dante. But as downloads developed, we began concentrating on unabridged recordings.
Your emphasis seems to be on classics. What’s your catalog like? How many classics do you produce as compared to contemporary titles?
We have about 700 titles and release between 40 and 75 a year. This year, for example, our new recordings include Dickens and Proust (unabridged!) but also John Fowles’s The Magus (a modern classic) and several Cormac McCarthy (another modern classic!) titles. We also commission new texts, ranging from The History of English Poetry and translations of Dante and Kafka to many others, including Ovid’s Metamorphoses, which is just out.
Enduringly popular are our new texts for younger listeners, such as Tales from the Greek Legends and Great Scientists and Their Discoveries. Around 70 percent of our titles are classics, though that covers fiction, nonfiction (history, philosophy, adult, and children’s/YA), drama, and poetry.
You had the best Dickens programs going for his centennial.
Thank you! We have some serious Dickens fans among our readers, and we wanted to do all the major novels for the anniversary. Dickens is even more gripping when you hear all those characters. Anton Lesser, David Timson, Sean Barrett, and David Horovitch live the dramas—we have had tears as well as laughter in our studio. To round off this year’s Dickens program, Simon Callow read a selection of letters compiled and introduced by Timson—this is an audiobook from two deeply committed Dickens experts. They loved every moment of the recording and even at lunch never stopped talking about Dickens.
What exciting things are coming for the rest of this year? How about 2013?
We are very pleased to present the premiere recording of Alan Garner’s Boneland, his long-awaited (adult) sequel to The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath. George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss is read unabridged by Laura Paton, and Neville Jason finishes his massive Proust project with The Captive in September, The Fugitive in October, and Time Regained in November. Unquestionably, this is one of the greatest feats in audiobook history.
In 2013, we start with Thackeray—Vanity Fair—but also more Nietzsche (people are really interested in philosophy), more English poetry, and, for younger listeners, The Kings and Queens of England!—Mike Rogers