Mr. E. Williams
Johnson & Alcock Ltd.
74-77 Great Russell Street
London, WC1B 3DA
As the literary agent for the estate of Dick Francis, you probably receive too many letters concerning his novels and I apologize for adding one more. However, this letter is not to ask for licensing, reprinting, film or merchandising rights; nor does it demand Felix Francis be locked away until he creates six new books. It is a request that some of Dick Francis’s thrillers be re-recorded and released as audiobooks in order to protect the stories as well as their prospective audience.
I realize book recordings were probably something of a publication afterthought when these books were originally released, and the process involved little more than recorded speech. I know, I just spent an excruciating weekend listening to Odds Against being read like it was a shopping list. All of the tension, terror, irony and humanity was drained from the narrative and although each character had an individual accent, they all spoke at the same rate and pitch. As a suspense novel, this recording it could have been marketed as an effective sleep-aid medication. I’m female, American, and an amateur performer but I could have done a better job reading than that!
Now, Wikipedia and Amazon/Audible’s web-sites show the same actor recorded at least seven Dick Francis novels, including the great nail-biters Enquiry and Smokescreen. The audio samples of these sound like literary pablum. Not a bit of crisp, cool, British, reserve but boredom and distinct enunciation of every “t”. Such recordings will not bring any new Francis readers to the fold or harvest many pounds from the older, willing fans who miss their jockey-turned-author. For the sake of stories and the fan-base his name still commands, can new recordings of these stories be made with an actor and production team who knows their business?
Incidentally, although Mr. Francis wrote more than 40 books, I notice a large percentage of them are not available in e-format, at least here in America. Can that be changed? These may be 20th-century tales but they need not be confined to that period’s technology. New fans would appreciate the convenience of e-reader formats for the old stories and older fans would appreciate the chance to carry their entire Francis collection without developing arm strain. Trust me. 40+ books begin to add up in weight, even when half of them are paperbacks.
Thank you for your attention and time; I wish you well through the snarls of Brexit.