Websight: Podiobooks.com


Are you a book snob? Oh well. Emer Sugrue doesn’t have a recommendation for you then

Once upon a time, the Audio Book was the preserve of the blind and illiterate. However, since the dawn of the MP3 player, when everyone became allergic to the sound of the outside world, they have been the perfect way to pretend you’ve read a book.

Podiobooks is a site that promises free audio books, delivered chapter by chapter in podcast form. It’s perfectly legal; every book has full permission from the author. But why would a published author allow their work to be offered free online? Er… they wouldn’t. This is the fatal flaw of Podiobooks. Things are only free on the internet when they can’t find anyone willing to pay for them. Even a fairly unsuccessful author would never give permission to distribute his books for free, and will always stick to his meagre earnings rather than the no earnings from Podiobooks. The result is an audio database of unpublished books.

Why is this such a big problem? YouTube is entirely comprised of videos that could never get on telly, but there are some incredible comedic gems and hard hitting political commentaries lurking in there. Sadly, there’s a big difference between a three minute YouTube clip and a full length novel. You can’t tell in the first 30 seconds of a book whether it’s just about a musical cat again.

The most popular and downloaded book on the site is Ravenwood by Nathan Lowell, a man so un-famous he doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page, unlike – for example – George Kobayashi, a Brazilian footballer who played for Japan in 1972. Lowell’s book might well be excellent – it could be the next Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Dan Brown or an orgasmic combination of the three.

But currently the pile of unread books beside my bed is towering so high that one false move will see it topple and kill me in the night. I still haven’t read The Catcher in the Rye, Crime and Punishment or Catch 22 – and that’s just the Cs. I’m never going to read random internet books by some guy. How am I going to boast about that at my next social function?

But for what it is, Podiobooks is a nifty little site. If you enjoy audio books and are not a complete literary snob like me, it’s ideal. You can set up an RSS feed so that as soon as a chapter is released, it’s delivered straight into your earholes for your listening pleasure, or download a completed book all at once for an audio binge.

The site has a lovely little community of book lovers and aspiring writers, all trying to help each other out, all with a single goal: literature. If you are a hopeless unpublishable author yourself then the site might get you some exposure, a fan base or even lead up to a book deal.

It won’t though. Harsh.


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8.42pm GMT, 16/2/2010