Telltale Weekly was a provider of low cost, DRM-free audiobook downloads in MP3, Ogg Vorbis, and AAC formats. The project began with multiple weekly releases, but by 2005 the focus shifted to less-frequent, longer works (and making fun of the site name).
Most of the recordings for sale at Telltale were released free via Spoken Alexandria and elsewhere within five years of release at Telltale, thus continually building and funding a free audiobook library. There was also the occasional modern work which wasn’t part of this eventually-free program, and also quite a few works that began free and remained so.
Third parties are encouraged to redistribute Spoken Alexandria recordings under the terms of their specific Creative Commons Licenses. For the specific license/deed for a work, click on this little guy when you see him
or view the text file included in the zipped download with each audio file.
The Spoken Alexandria Project and Telltale Weekly, projects of Alex Wilson Studios LLC, depend upon and perpetuate five great ideas:
- Funding a Free Audiobook Library
- Quality Recordings by Compensated Artists
- DRM-Free MP3, AAC, and Ogg Vorbis Audio
- Charitable Giving
Visit The Spoken Alexandria Project for Telltale Weekly audio releases that are currently free. Consider Telltale Weekly is the “fundraising” side of the project.
Telltale Weekly primarily seeks to record, produce, and sell narrations/performances of public domain texts, with the intention of releasing them under Creative Commons Licenses five years after their first appearance here (or after a hundred-thousand purchases of the individual recording, whichever comes first). These recordings will be freely available for download at The Spoken Alexandria Project and other libraries and projects interested in redistributing the files.
Recordings that are a part of this cheap-now, free-later program will be clearly marked with the dates of their CCL release at the bottom their respective download pages. Paying to hear the recordings now (and for the next five years) helps to cover the costs for the production, recording, and bandwidth of the specific works, as well as supports future releases so that we’ll still be producing new audiobooks by the time our first one hits the free world.
So we’re looking to build an audiobook equivalent of Project Gutenberg one text at a time. Potentially any free library—online or otherwise–or P2P network will be able to redistribute these recordings (once they are released under their CCLs) with and without the latest compression technologies. Note that not all work will be sold before its Creative Commons free release. Some of them start out free and remain free.
What does the Creative Commons Attribution License (specifically the Non-Commercial License) mean? It means that–after a Telltale Weekly recording has been released under the license–anyone will be free to (a) copy, distribute, display, and perform the work and (b) make derivative works all with two conditions: attribution, and non-commerical use.
Credit to the creators of the work must be given–in each case the author of the text performed, the performer of the work, and Telltale Weekly. And the work may not be resold or otherwise used commercially without permission of the work’s creator. Fair use and other rights are in no way affected by the above and the attribution and non-commercial conditions may be waived solely with permissions of the copyright holder.
Find out more about the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License here [opens a new window]. Note that some of the earliest recordings at Telltale were already scheduled/announced to be released under a CCL Attribution-only license, and some later works required a more restrictive license by preference or requirement of the copyright holders. You can read about the CCL Attribution-only license here [new window].
In the meantime, Telltale sells these recordings without DRM, and, once purchased, may be copied as many times as you like for personal use. But please wait until they are specifically released under a Creative Commons License before sharing or distributing.
Quality Recordings by Compensated Artists
To respect both the listener and the work recorded, The Spoken Alexandria Project/Telltale Weekly is committed to using professional-grade equipment and experienced actors, giving the listener a superior experience to the computer-generated “text-to-speech” options available on personal computers today.
In addition to meeting the costs of bandwidth and equipment, Telltale is committed to providing compensation to artists. So as low as the audiobook prices are, a significant chunk of a twenty-five cent sale goes to the producer(s)/performer(s) of the work (and/or the author/copyright holders when the text being narrated/performed is not yet in the public domain).
Telltale Weekly also believes that you don’t have to overcharge customers in order to compensate artists. So we use…
Using micropayments, Telltale Weekly can offer audiobooks for as little as twenty-five cents each in a system that makes purchasing as easy as surfing the web, with no extra software downloads or installations required.
Users pay via typical PayPal add-to-cart buttons. A download page is immediately returned, and a download link via email is also provided. Users have a week to complete their download before the links expire. Every effort has been made to make this system resemble the old Bitpass micropayments solution as far as simplicity and ease-of-use is concerned.
This replaces both Bitpass (which originally powered the site, but closed its doors in January 2007) and the old PayPal system/download “accounts (which wasn’t as intuitive as Bitpass, but didn’t require people sign up for yet another online payment system if they already had PayPal).
All recordings at Telltale Weekly and The Spoken Alexandria Project are DRM-free (meaning they are offered without Digital Rights Management technology which limits what you can do with the recordings).
So once you’ve paid for and downloaded a recording, you can copy it as many times as you like for your personal use, on as many players, computers, and CD-Rs as you like. We only ask that you don’t share or redistribute purchased work work (*yet), although you may buy a recording for a friend. (*Many of the recordings will be released under the Creative Commons License eventually anyway; see above. Your patience allows us to continue releasing audiobooks at incredibly low prices.)
In additon to the popular MP3 and AAC formats, all recordings at Telltale are available in the Ogg Vorbis open, free audio compression standard (.ogg). Thomson Multimedia, the creators of MP3 compression, requires a 2% royalty be paid to them for any commercial use of the their codec if/when gross revenues surpass $100,000 annually (we should be so lucky). So in support of Ogg Vorbis, Telltale Weekly will voluntarily donate 2% of Ogg Vorbis revenue to the Xiph.org Foundation (creators of Ogg Vorbis) annually, regardless of total revenue. This is in addition to the 1% of all gross revenue that will be donated to Xiph.org (see Charitable Giving, below).
Your favorite MP3 player doesn’t support Ogg Vorbis? Tell the manufacturer about it. Here’s [new window] the feedback form for the iPod, which is as good a place as any to start. And visit Vorbis.com [new window] to learn more about Ogg Vorbis.
Let us know if you have another format you’d prefer, or have any comments about the current offerings.
Nobody wants to wait five years before their work does the world any good. So 10% of gross revenues at Telltale Weekly will be annually distributed evenly to ten related charities and projects. Current charities include:
Investing in unprecedented world-changing ideas.
- Electronic Frontier Foundation
Defending Freedom in the Digital World
- Escape Pod
A podcast of short science fiction/fantasy stories (added 2007*).
Technology volunteers enabling communities worldwide.
- Team Rubicon
Disaster Response Veterans Service Organization (replaces Heroes 4 Heroes)
- Project Gutenberg
The internet’s oldest producer of free electronic texts.
- Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic
The nation’s educational library for those with print disabilities.
- The Speculative Literature Foundation**
Promoting literary quality in speculative fiction (added 2007*).
- Wikimedia Foundation
Maintaining and Developing Open Content
Building a new era of open multimedia.
* For charities “added 2007,” donations will begin in early 2008 (with 2007 revenues).
** Donation to The Speculative Literature Foundation may be in the form of an Institutional Membership renewal.
*** This is in addition to the 2% of all Ogg Vorbis revenue donated to Xiph.org annually.
The above links will open new windows in your browser. Click on them to learn more about each charity/project. Other than sending them donations, Telltale Weekly/The Spoken Alexandria Project/Alex Wilson Studios LLC is in no way affiliated with any of the above charities/projects. Occassionally donation recipients will award a membership to parties donating over a certain amount. This should not be construed as their endorsement of this project.Back to Top
See the Alex Wilson Studios Press Kit for more information, including hi-resolution photos for media use.
“Project Gutenberg is well known for offering free electronic versions of famous public-domain texts. Now Telltale Weekly wants to be its audiobook equivalent.”– Pamela O’Connell,
New York Times, April 2004
“Worth downloading: “Most of My Friends Are Two-Thirds Water” by Kelly Link, read by Alex Wilson; “Getting Past Being Joe Blow Neopro” by Tobias S. Buckell, read by Alex Wilson.”-Craig Silverman, New York Times, August 2006
“Worth buying (at telltaleweekly.org): “The War of the Worlds” by H.G. Wells, read by James Spencer ($8); “Murder at Woodside Village,” a Yuri Rasovsky audio drama based on the story by William H. Patton and performed by a full cast before a live audience ($2.75).”-Craig Silverman, New York Times, August 2006
“An ambitious new project… incredibly low prices…”– John Joseph Adams,
“…sells about 100 human-read audiobooks at discount prices… all works are DRM-free, and available in MP3, AAC, and Ogg Vorbis formats.”— MacWorld, November 2005
“As a certified audiobook addict, this is as exciting an idea as I’ve heard
in a long, long time.”– Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
“Telltale Weekly is a new, low-cost audio book service selling titles from the public
domain. You can buy books for less than a dollar and place them on your portable
music player or computer.”– Jon Gordon, Minnesota Public Radio (Future Tense)
“My cup runneth over. And there’s good karma at Telltale: after five years or 100,000
downloads, TTW will release each track into the public domain under a CC license;
also, partial proceeds from Ogg downloads are donated to the Xiph Foundation,
who support Ogg development.”– Cory Doctorow, again at Boing Boing
“[A Song Before Sunset] has been languishing unreprinted until this exceptional audio edition was
released. Production value is high, the sound is exceptionally clear and the readingis lightly,
and appropriately accented with music. Alexander Wilson’s reading is haunting and restrained,
matching the mournful tone of this short story.”– Jesse Willis,
“It’s not easy to find good, cheap, DRM-free audiobooks and Telltale Weekly looks like
a pretty cool new provider of such work.”— Matt Haughey, CreativeCommons.org
“If they can’t make a go of this, it’s proof that the democratization of media, importance of fair use and customer trust and all the rest are just pipe dreams.”–Jonathan Peterson, Amateur Hour
“Telltale Weekly is not as vast a commercial enterprise as Audible, but in many ways more noble…
…the collection should continue to grow if you stop by and give it the support it deserves.”–James Patrick Kelly, Asimov’s, Feb 2006Back to Top
First off, libraries are already free to redistribute all the audio listed among the free stuff. See an audiobook’s individual Creative Commons License for specifics, but all of the CCLs used at Telltale are liberal enough to allow the free, nonprofit redistribution you’d want from a library.
And this is important: most of the titles for sale now will eventually be released for free on that page (see “Mission” above). See an audiobook’s individual page for its coming CCL and CCL release date. I stress this because kinda the whole point of the project is to provide content for libraries and NOT make them pay for it.
That all said, there’s still been interest from libraries in purchasing Telltale content, so we’ve partnered with Overdrive for it. Libraries can sign up and purchase away (note that not all titles are available).
Important: When browsing the catalog, be sure to choose “Overdrive MP3 Audiobook” as the Media Format, as it’s DRM-free (their WMA format is heavily DRMed). Thanks!