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Stephen King

All ears: Debut novel comes out first in audio edition

Before book buyers get to read Julia Claiborne Johnson's debut novel, "Be Frank With Me," they'll have a chance to hear it.

On Friday, the audio edition of Johnson's comic saga of a famous writer's 9-year-old son became available through the audio seller and producer Audible Inc. four days before the hardcover and e-books go on sale. The early release, read by the popular audio narrator Tavia Gilbert, was a joint project of the Audible and HarperCollins Publishers.

"Sometimes you don't know how well an audiobook is going to turn out until you listen to the final version," says Sean McManus, associate publisher of HarperAudio. "When...