Wonderful audiobook ruined by ads and laziness
First and foremost: I absolutely love this book. The only thing better than reading it is listening to the stunning performance by Jim Dale. I've listened to the cassette version more times than I can count. I was thrilled when I found out I could finally get a proper digital copy. That being said, this audio product is a disgrace to the format.
I am horrified. Horrified at the thoughtlessness with which this audiobook was published. I cannot believe that this, the official audiobook on iTunes/iBooks sanctioned by Rowling herself, that costs almost $35, has ads. ADS! It's hard to describe the degree to which I hate whoever decided that adding a plug for Audible at the beginning of the book was a good idea. Do they really think I just payed a premium price to hear that the book I know and love is "brought to me by Audible"? No. Just no.
But that pales in comparison to how obnoxious the plugs in the middle of this book are. Apparently Audible takes the liberty of separating the audiobook into multiple parts to "help it download faster" (a ridiculous justification for something that was released in 2015). They also felt the need to explain this with an audio track inserted right in the middle of the book. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!? Nothing transports you out of an immersive story faster than a computer-voiced public service announcement about the technological ineptitude of the publisher jammed in between the chapters.
And, speaking of chapters, for my $35 they couldn't be bothered to split the audio up by chapter (it's broken into arbitrary "tracks"). They couldn't even be bothered to title the tracks properly. They are literally just labeled "Track 1", "Track 2", etc. How is that useful? How am I supposed to navigate the book? It's no better than my old cassettes and that is just infuriatingly lazy.
All in all, It's simply incredible that someone could take a 5-star book with a 5-star audio performance and utterly ruin it into a 1-star product. Lose the shameless ads. Lose the idiotic PSAs. Treat the audio version of this book like the brilliant, masterfully crafted, continuous story that it is.
Shame on everyone who had a hand in producing this needlessly modified digital edition. And shame on me for enabling you with my purchase. I would take it back if I could. I'll be posting this review for all of the audiobooks in the series so nobody falls prey to this without some warning.
Do not Buy on iTunes
With the recent changes to how audiobooks are played/ managed on iDevices this is useless for anyone on the go. I am required to play this through the iBooks app, which means I can’t play it through my bluetooth car audio or while exercising using my running app. If you really want this either buy the discs and rip them to your computer or buy it on another store, like Pottermore, who offers them as unlocked mp3 files. I am very frustrated with how Apple handles audiobooks compared to everything else that the sell. I will never buy another audiobook from Apple again
Jim Dale was the narrator on all the books on CD that I originally purchased (have entire series) and my children absolutely LOVED his ability to do a unique voice, cadence, and heart for each character and flawlessly keep this persona thru all seven books. You knew who was speaking just by the intonation and carrying that through so many lengthy books was quite the feat as there were many, many characters. I haven't had the pleasure of listening to these books narrated by Stephen Fry, but I can assure that Jim Dale is phenomenal and quite beloved by many children and adults. My children listened tirelessly with all their friends and actually wore out some of the CDs, so I looking to replace for my youngest and my grandchild. Plus, pulling the CDs into iTunes took a lot of space (for the u damaged ones) and I gave up. It'll be better to have a truly digital format with no unfortunate skips. My kids and I still play the online oops/world and just love this vast, rich world which has been woven by JK. I hope this helps for those who are "on the fence" about this narrator. Normally there's at least one kid in the bunch that doesn't like the narrator's voice, but every single young, mid and older child raved about the many voices and just loved Jim Dale. Best wishes :)