I know what you are thinking, “So what. Audio books have been around for years.” Well that’s true, but Podiobooks differ from most other audio book sites in one spectacular way. All the content is FREE!
Is there a catch? Well not really. Possibly, the only catch is that the quality of some of the content is average. That could also be a matter of personal taste. However, there are print books out on the bookshop shelves that could only be described as average too.
Most of the authors are not widely known in traditional publishing circles but there are exceptions to that rule too. Fantasy author Mercedes Lackey, and New York Times bestselling author Tracy Hickman both have content on the site. The authors who utilise the site do so mainly as a vehicle to promote their work and gain an audience. The books range from straight reads, usually by the authors themselves, through to scored, full cast audio dramas. There is nothing like reading a good book but sometime you don’t get the time. Audio books are great for listening to in the car, while out walking, doing the shopping or housework.
There is a facility on the site to donate money to an author if you enjoy the work but it is not a requirement for using the site or listening to the books. So, how do the authors make a living?
Some probably don’t. I can’t tell you how many people donate to the authors but many of the books on the site have print versions that are available for purchase, usually through Amazon or similar companies or through the author’s own sites. Early on, there was a lot of speculation that giving the book away free in an audio format would kill any chance of selling a printed version. This seems to be incorrect. Not everyone who listens to a book is going to buy it but some do. Many of the popular authors on the site attract a subscribed listening audience in the tens or even hundreds of thousands. Even if only a small percentage actually buys the book, it still relates to larger sales than most self or small press published books can boast. I personally have purchased four print titles from authors I found on the site. This is taking into consideration, the books were purchased through Amazon from the USA with prohibitive exchange rates and high postage costs. I can get traditionally published books of bestselling authors from book stores at a much cheaper rate but I have still purchased the books even though I can listed to them again any time I like.
Another recent development is that publishers are starting to take note. In these times where guaranteed sales are a huge factor in deciding what books publishers produce, authors coming to the table with a following of over 100,000 fans is a big selling point. Authors like Scott Sigler, Mur Lafferty, J.C Hutchins, Matthew Wayne Selznick, Tee Morris, Philippa Ballantine and Christiana Ellis have all recently been signed by publishing companies.
Another feature of the site for me is you can follow a link direct to the author’s personal web site. Unlike a lot of print book authors, the Podiobook authors encourage interaction from their audience and are happy to follow-up queries, respond to feedback and give advice. There are several Podiobook authors who I regularly maintain contact with.
My personal recommendations:
Playing for Keeps
by Mur Lafferty
Not so super, super heroes
by Matthew Wayne Selznick
X-Men meets Breakfast Club
and the Case of the Singing Sword
by Tee Morris
Classic detective novel meets Lord of the Rings
by Nathan Lowell
(or any of Nathan's other books in the series)
by Scott Sigler
High action thriller (adult content and violence)