Seth Godin understands viral success and the power of giving your stuff away for free on the ‘net. He’s a smart thinker about the future and is perfectly happy chucking conventional wisdom out the window. Today he wrote about why the traditional audiobook market stinks, and how some savvy authors and organizations are fighting to change that. A choice snippet:
Here’s the thing, though: In my experience, audio book listeners are ten times more likely to drop me email or talk about what they heard than book readers. Part of it is the entertaining nature of the presentation, I think (I probably talk better than I write) and part of it is the nature of the experience–it’s going into a different part of your brain.
Anyway, digital media, as in so many other areas, changes everything. First, authors are getting smarter about what rights they preserve. Second, digital media has no inventory problem. The Long Tail rules. If you’ve got an MP3 player, you probably have an iPod, which probably means you have access to the iTunes store. There’s a ton of audiobooks there. And audible.com (among others) which pioneered the field, has a huge catalog.
He’s spot on. Some of our authors are traditionally published in print and in conventional audiobooks, and they consistently see better “engagement factors” from listeners via their podcast feed than anywhere else. That’s huge.
He’s also right about authors and preserving their rights. At Podiobooks.com, we don’t take any rights away from the author. Instead, we ask for a non-exclusive world-wide license to distribute the audio files they provide to us. That way we’re not stuck in the middle if the author wants to license those rights to someone else. That decision on our part has been called foolish, but only by those who don’t get that we’re talking about a non-scarce entity. To do what Podiobooks.com does, we don’t need any more rights than that to give the episodes of our books away for free. So why take more?
Let’s hear it for the Long Tail. And building careers. And changing an industry. Links to Seth’s books in print and audio (no, we don’t have any of those titles here. Yet.) are available from the link above. Highly recommended!