A novel approach to podcasting

Now that we are more or less done with the significant unofficial project of the weekend, it’s back to work around the official blog and it’s time to wrap up some lingering textbook work and to get ready for the quickly approaching school year. My son starts third grade tomorrow; my wife starts various new faculty orientations on Wednesday; I have a department “retreat” on Thursday; I’m sure there are various meetings I haven’t remembered that I should attend next week; and classes beging at EMU on September 7.

One of the things on my mind this morning is (once again) podcasting since I’m planning on using at least a version of it for my online class this term. When I brought this up with a few of my English professor colleagues at a party earlier this summer, there was some confusion about my desire to podcast. “Can’t students just read what you write?” these colleagues asked.

Well, I think that this article, “A Novel Approach to Podcasting” in The Book Standard web site, kind of answers that question. To quote from the opening paragraph:

Scott Sigler first published his science-fiction novel EarthCore in 2001 with iPublish, an AOL/Time Warner imprint. When a promotional ebook version came out first, it hit No. 1 on Barnes & Noble’s website, and as plans to release the print version were going full steam ahead, Time Warner decided to scrap the whole imprint. After making sure he held the rights to the book, Sigler started looking for another way to get it an audience. In March, the author began podcasting a serialized version of his novel, which has now been downloaded more than 10,000 times. “When podcasting rolled around, I thought it would be a great way to release a novel,� he says. “I did a lot of research on it. There are 23 million Americans with an MP3 player, and the most popular form of radio is talk radio. So I thought, ‘This is just going to be huge.’ �

In other words: Duh! Books on tape!

This article also mentions a site called Podiobooks, which is aiming to hosts podcasts for books. There’s not much there yet– according to the Book Standard article, they have five titles: four science fiction and one business writing– but you can imagine the potential.

4 thoughts on “A novel approach to podcasting”

  1. Books on tape are great, but man are they expensive. Have you bought one recently? Or even worse, a book on CD? Astronomical prices compared to our old friend the print book. So the thing with podcasting a novel is really the ease of delivery and the potential for low-cost entertainment. Audible.com has it almost right, but I think they are charging too much. That’s my opinion.


  2. I think you’re right about the potential of podcasting, but I’m afraid the medium is impaling itself on one of those VHS/Betamax format wars. Certain music subscription services (napster, yahoo) won’t work on ipods; itunes will only work on ipods. As it did in the 80’s with the Mac, Apple is trying to control both the hardware and the software — nothing good can come of that, I suspect.

    Once a clear format winner emerges, I think we’ll see mp3 players generally and podcasting specifically really take off.

  3. Well, I don’t know all of the issues with the different formats for different services, but ultimately, podcasts are just mp3 files and what makes them a “podcast” is some sort of rss feed. So while there might be some iPod and other device conflicts, I don’t see any reason why someone couldn’t use their computer to play the files, and/or convert them into a playable format.

    Of course, I haven’t played around with this yet– so to speak– and when I do, I certainly am not going to make my feed available only (or even at all) through one of these other services.

  4. Steve’s right in the distinction between a generic “podcast” and music bought from the iTunes music store. The format issue lies entirely in the purchased music. Nearly all the mp3s on my iPod are ripped from my personal CD collection and they could just as easily play on a non-iPod mp3 player. I’m sure limiting iTunes purchased music to iPods does have something to do with wanting to control both the software and the hardware, but it may also have to do with the licensing. The recording industry requires limits on how the music gets used once it’s bought (i.e., tie files to a limited number of computers) so that one person doesn’t buy a song and share the file. Restricting these files to Apple software/hardware combinations may be as much an issue of meeting the recording industry’s demands for control over the music than a desire to dominate the industry. Regardless, as Steve points out, podcasting isn’t tied to iPods let alone iTunes, and it doesn’t have anything to do with the format wars.

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