About once a month, maybe once a week, yet another production of something by Edgar Allen Poe is released. Sometimes it's a straight read by a name actor issued by a name publisher. Sometimes the recording is done by a first-time-out community theater group. Sometimes there's a little music and a few sound effects involved. Always the performances sound slightly spooky.
Spooky, because people keep cranking out the same five or six major Poe pieces (The Tell-Tale Heart, The Masque of the Red Death, The Fall of the House of Usher and The Raven to name a few) year after year after year apparently completely unaware that anybody else has ever read and recorded the things. Spookier still, because the performances all seem to be uniformly based on a vintage Vincent Price performance you can now catch on You-tube.
And most spookiest of all -- the stories continue to sound really good. They are concise, entertaining and still twisted in a very original nineteenth century American kind of way. Edgar Allen Poe was a flat-out great writer.
However, I think the major reason Poe is so popular in the audiobook industry is because he's in the public domain. Poor old Poe is dead, has apparently been that way for some time and; therefore, his works are no longer copyrighted and he can't protect himself. One doesn't have to seek permission to use his works.
So, what am I complaining about? From the independent audiobook writer/producer vantage point the public domain is tough to compete against. If I write, produce and try to distribute an original piece and a perspective buyer goes on-line and sees my title and then sees The Tell-Tale Heart he or she is 90 percent of the time going to buy what they've heard of. New writers have a hard enough time battling the likes of Stephen King without fighting his Uncle Edgar, as well.
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