Since the pandemic, J.K. Rowling released Stephen Fry's version of the audio book for free. However, the Jim Dale version is 8 hours 18 minutes and Stephen Fry's version is 9 hours 33 minutes. I know some audio books are released as "reenactments" were voice actors play different characters, there's music generally, and they skip over certain descriptions of what the characters are doing in the text. I don't believe Stephen Fry's version is anything like that, so I'm having trouble figuring out why there's a time difference. If I choose to listen to Jim Dale's 8 hour reading instead of Stephen Fry's 9 hour reading, will I be missing several chapters of the book? Or did they just add extra stuff like interviews from Rowling and Stephen Fry?

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    "Just checked the backup copy of my Audible UK version of the first HP book I purchased about 3 years ago - and this one is 8:44 long, with the book ending at the 8:25 mark, followed by a ~20min preview of the next book. The one in my online library also ends the book at 8:25, but the Chamber of Secrets preview is a bit over an hour long. Looks like they expanded the preview somewhen in the last 3 years, but the book itself has the same length. I guess the Pottermore version is the one Audible initially had as well." tinyurl.com/y4tqv8zs
    – Valorum
    Commented Sep 2, 2020 at 22:47
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    My copy of Stephen Fry's Philosopher's Stone is 8:22:43. My copy of Jim Dale's Sorcerer's Stone is 8:33:29. Each narrator reads at a different pace plus different sound effects in some cases (that slight difference would probably add up in books 4-7). That said, I believe that I bought/borrowed from the library the audiobooks years ago, and my copy might not have the extra hour preview on it (which would be really annoying to tell you the truth) Commented Sep 3, 2020 at 0:14
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    “Philosopher” has four syllables while “sorcerer” only has three. If you add up all those extra syllables it might take an extra hour to narrate.
    – Alex
    Commented Sep 17, 2020 at 5:31
  • @Alex LMAO! That is actually hilarious and I seriously hope someone does a case study to find out if that's really the reason for the 7 minute difference in actual reading time between the two audio books.
    – RexxiA
    Commented Sep 18, 2020 at 6:45
  • Doesn't that suggest you've listened to at most one version? Either way, why not buy the longer version and enjoy knowing that you have the best of both worlds? Commented Nov 20, 2021 at 22:25

1 Answer 1


I bought both to compare and I think commenters Valorum & Matthew Barclay are right. Stephen Fry's edition is only longer due to the extended preview of the second book. Fry's version reads full excerpts from the Chamber of Secrets while Dale's preview is more of a minute and a half trailer. Otherwise the books are almost the same length in terms of actual text: Dale's is 8 hours 17 minutes, while Fry's is 8 hours 24 minutes. The 7 minute difference is due to the fact that Fry talks slower. And the chapter by chapter break down is around the same as well with only slight differences to due Fry's slow delivery.

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    Fry would only need to talk about 1.5% slower than Dale to rack up a 7 minute time difference over that >8hr period. This would presumably be barely perceptible, if at all, if one listened to the two books separately. If Fry spoke at 50% the speed of Dale, though, one would notice it being quite a lot slower. The normal variation in speaking speed, difficult to measure, seems more than 1.5% (even if we restrict to English-speakers in region the USA, say). Commented Sep 4, 2020 at 6:27
  • *in one region in the USA (mea culpa). Commented Sep 6, 2020 at 2:18
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    1.6% probably imperceptable, cinema files were sped up by 4% for broadcast on PAL TV networks 25FPS vs 24 and no one complained.
    – Jasen
    Commented Sep 6, 2020 at 7:37

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