Thursday, October 21, 2010

HNT - Audio Wonderland

On a recent episode of CBC's Spark (a program I rarely listen to "live" on radio, but more typically via a podcast subscription), host Nora Young put out a call for people to send in pictures of where they were when they listened to Spark.

So I submitted the following picture, which will be this's week's HNT submission. (I was actually listening to an episode of the Spark Plus podcast - the regular weekly feed with bonus additional audio, such as full interviews - while taking this picture)

I tend to listen to Spark, and a slew of other podcasts and audio books in one of two places -- my twice daily drive/walk in to work and when I run (although I don't run, either outside or on the treadmill, as often as I should be). Since it takes about 20 minutes each way, that allows me 40 minutes of time to either "read" or listen to programming that is of particular interest to me, rather than losing those 40 minutes of down-time.

For my podcast subscriptions (which are automatically downloaded for free via iTunes and synced up to my iPhone without having to do anything more once I set the subscriptions up), I listen to a variety of different writing, book and technology & culture podcasts, such as Spark, The Next Chapter (both from CBC radio, and both of which I rarely catch "live"), and podcasts such as CBC Book Club, The Writing Show, Bookrageous, Dragon Page Cover to Cover and Six Pixels of Separation.

But I have also started listening to more audio books over the years, taking full advantage of various sources for audio books, like the traditional CDs (converted to mp3 of course), and places like It has certainly been a great way to get more reading in. I'm a really slow reader, so ANY way that I can squeeze reading a few more books in each year helps me with the ever-growing "to read" pile that, like compound interest on a bad debt, keeps growing bigger and bigger with each passing day.

That's why I was delighted to see yesterday's official announcement about Iambik audiobooks -- although, I must admit, I already got a bit of a "heads up" about it by listening to the Six Pixels podcast mentioned above (or, specifically the "Media Hacks" episodes that come through the Six Pixels feed, in which Mitch Joel sits around with folks like Hugh McGuire, Chris Brogan, C.C. Chapman, Julien Smith and Christopher S. Penn and discuss things going on in digital media and culture).

Iambik's "catch phrase" is "At Iambik we make audio out of books we love."

Unlike traditional audiobooks, Iambik partners with print publishers and authors, working with a collection of skilled independent audiobook producers around the world (something tapped into beautifully by LibriVox, a collective of people around the world bringing free audio content for their favourite public domain works and headed by Hugh McGuire, who also heads up Iambik)

Iambik is a wonderful natural progression, or next step in the a hugely success world of audio wonders that LibriVox provides.  Why? Because Iambik records both new books and old ones -- essentially, it goes after great books that might have been overlooked by traditional audio publishers.

You've got to love that.

So, again, despite the fact that I already have an incredibly rich and wonderful selection of great audio to listen to and enjoy, another great new option pops up, bringing me even MORE content.

I'll consider it both a blessing and a curse.

I wonder if, one day, just like listening to books in audio format helped me "read" more of them, a new technology will emerge where a chip can get implanted in my head and allow me to "read" books while I'm sleeping instead of just the random dreams that scroll through my head.  That would be another great way to make use of "down time" and get more reading in, wouldn't it?

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