What does fungus have to do with audiobooks? Plenty, if you pay close enough attention. I’m borrowing the term from my friend Steve Eley of Escape Pod. I’m also taking a little poetic license with his definition and applying it to this particular situation.
I pay pretty close attention to the business of audiobooks as you might imagine — especially attentions in the world of digital downloads, mp3 files and internet marketing. Some sites have a unique product offering, like Simply Audiobooks. Others, like Audible, are the 800 lb. gorilla in the category. And then there are folks like us here at Podiobooks.com trying to put our own spin on the world of audio books by offering them in serialized format.
Personally, I think the sites above actually add to the conversation and generally contribute to the health of reading and literature in general, as well as providing valuable services to the “listeners” as well. And yes, there are others which I haven’t mentioned. Lots, in fact.
But a growing trend in this industry can only be classified as “fungus”, and it’s creeping around. Maybe you’ve seen a site with a menu bar that looks like this:
Which bears a striking resemblance to:
Look familiar? I’ve seen it presented as:
All four of those images were captured by me in about five minutes of searching. All are from SuperGreatAudioBooksFromTheFourthDimension.com or some other domain of greater or lesser idiocy. All of these sites (not just those four, but the dozens I’m sure I can find) are simply wrappers around the same collection. It’s got to be as easy as 1) picking a domain name and 2) choosing your color scheme, and bang! you’re the proud owner of an online downloadable audiobook store.
Now while these fungi owners don’t have to worry about pesky things like maintaining an inventory, updating your database or any of the stuff that business have to deal with, some of the more enterprising ilk have taken to spamming Technorati, Del.icio.us, blogs, forums and the like. And this, happy campers, is where my weenie gets a little chapped. It’s been bad enough that I have to wade through their asinine posts designed to try and siphon as much Google juice as possible, flooding my aggregator with crap. I can handle that. Cost of doing business. But when they start showing up here and spamming my posts on my webite? Then I get a whole lot torqued.
These sites add nothing to the conversation. It’s homogenizing the offerings available, and probably turning more than one person off who’s just discovering audiobooks for the first time by making it look like every place offers the same stuff. Not true. Not true at all. I haven’t figured out a way to combat these nitwits. Maybe it’s just a fad that’ll go away. Maybe the search engines will take a hard look and say “Hey, this is the same stuff as that other site, just with a different wrapper” and delete them from the index, lowering the attractiveness of this offering. Fungus, I tell you.
Sorry for the rant. It’s been a long week, and when that spam came in… well I kinda lost it. Have a good weekend, everyone.