Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which was released as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the US, is now free to stream on Audible. It’s part of a series of initiatives launched by JK Rowling and friends to keep everyone entertained while they’re cooped up at home. Better yet, it’s the version narrated by Stephen Fry, which has previously been difficult to legally access in the US.
As well as making the audiobook available, the series’ publishers are also temporarily relaxing licencing restrictions to allow teachers to read the books to their students in remote video lessons.
There are big debates about whether Stephen Fry’s or Jim Dale’s rendition of the audiobooks are better, but as a Brit who grew up listening to Fry’s version it’s always been the obvious choice for me. If you’re an American who’s never heard it then I’d recommend you giving it a go even if, as TechCrunch notes, you might have a difficult job getting your hands on his recordings of the rest of the books.
As well as Fry’s English version, the free audiobook is also available in Spanish, French, Italian, German and Japanese.
Although Rowling and her team have loosened the licensing restrictions on teachers reading the books as part of remote virtual lessons, there are still some caveats. The biggest of these is that it’s meant to allow the books to be read on closed educational platforms like Google Classroom or Schoology, rather than commercial platforms like YouTube. Teachers are also encouraged to not amend or abridge the books while they’re reading them, which is advice that Rowling herself could occasionally stand to pay a little more attention to.
Meanwhile, if you’d like to listen to the audiobook, then you can do so over at stories.audible.com. Unfortunately the offer is streaming only (with no option to download), so you’ll need to make sure you’ve got a somewhat stable connection to the internet during its nine and a half hour runtime. Accio 4G, am I right guys?