Anyone seeking an escape into a world of magic can now immerse themselves in the audiobook release of JK Rowling's The Tales of Beedle the Bard, which became available Tuesday on Audible. The book was referenced throughout the Harry Potter series as a noted publication in the Hogwarts Library. In addition, Audible added Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to the list of free audiobooks available through its Audible Stories collection.
In the Potterverse, The Tales of Beedle the Bard is a noted bedtime reading favorite among wizards. The audiobook version uses sound effects and lively voicing to bring dimension to the series of short stories. It features performances from film and stage actors including Jude Law, who played Albus Dumbledore in the Fantastic Beasts film series; Evanna Lynch, who played Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter film series; and Jason Isaacs, who played Lucius Malfoy in the movies.
"It's a perfect moment where storytelling can be a relief and a way to connect with other people," says Bonnie Wright, who played Ginny Weasley in the Harry Potter film series and voices the story Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump.
"Harry Potter has been continually loved because so many people see a kind of home in the story," she adds. "It literally is about an orphan finding a home in a school and the friends that he meets there. And for so many people, the magical world has been that home."
The collection includes The Tale of the Three Brothers, which played a critical role in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and is voiced by Noma Dumezweni, who played Hermione Granger in the original West End and Broadway runs of Harry Potter And The Cursed Child.
"Audiobooks have opened up a whole new world for people," Dumezweni says. "It's another way of accessing stories if you're not a reader, if you don't take pleasure in reading."
Listeners can access The Tales of Beedle the Bard with an Audible subscription, or can purchase it for $14.95 (£12 or AU$20.20). At least 90% of proceeds from the audiobook will support Rowling's charity Lumos, an NGO that aims to ensure children around the world grow up in loving families and communities.
Rowling initially handwrote and illustrated The Tales of Beedle the Bard as a limited edition of seven copies, with one being sold at auction for charity in 2007. The book was then published in 2008 and sold to raise funds for Lumos.
The Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone audiobook is available for free through the newly launched Audible Stories collection, and can be streamed in English, Spanish, French, Italian, German and Japanese. Listeners don't have to join Audible for access. The English version is voiced by Stephen Fry.
On Wednesday, Rowling also launched the Harry Potter at Home hub, a free online collection of activities, videos, quizzes and more to help children and families who are staying home during the outbreak.