August 26, 2005
By Anna Weinberg
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.’ ”
As recently as this time last year, a podcast—a digital audio program that lives on the Internet—would have meant very little to most people. But today there are thousands of websites devoted to the technology; major media outlets have started releasing some of their broadcasts via podcast; and even cult favorite Neil Gaiman has posted the first few chapters of the audio version of his Anansi Boys on his blog. Sigler’s podcasting got him a deal with the publisher Dragon Moon Press after the publisher heard his audio version of EarthCore. And a new site, Podiobooks.com, has launched, with five titles already available for download. Its co-founder, Evo Terra, a podcaster for the online talk show The Dragon Page, notes that, as of this writing, 19 new authors have signed on to release free audio versions of their books through the site.
But Terra’s ambitions for the site are grander. “I see Podiobooks.com as the springboard for other authors who want to explore this new side to their craft,” he says. “I want a hundred books up by the first of the year, and I want each book to have thousands of subscribers. I want it to be a community resource for people looking for new and interesting work, and I want it to act as a catalyst for the sale of other forms of books, including print.” (more...)