Writing Your Own (Audio)book

A couple of interesting items I’ve run across.

The first one I mentioned earlier, that increasing breadth of content, much of it consumer-generated (self-published books for example), is all finding someone out there who wants it and is willing to pay – Chris Anderson’s “Long Tail”.

The second is a post by Seth Godin about how you shouldn’t waste energy on a business/product that needs to be a hit to be successful. Because stardom in an age of increasing competition is harder to achieve.

Well, it was always hard to achieve. That’s why movie stars and cleanup hitters make $20 million a year. And why rock stars have women throwing themselves (and sometimes just their undergarments) at them.

Hits, and being a prospective winner, are what drive much of the content creation out there. If there wasn’t a bestseller list and the prospect of a million-dollar advance from Random House… someday…. then would all this great long-tail content be getting generated? Or do people just create because they feel the need to create?

I think we need both the hits (to drive creation) and the long tail (to drive rewards for creation). It’s great. I predict that superstar salaries will start to go down as people with bank accounts realize celebrity just isn’t what it used to be.

And talented people everywhere will get a little more celebrity. That has to be better for everybody. I’m getting sick of Tom Cruise anyway.

scared man

Scared to Get in the Car

I was afraid to get in my car this morning.

Yesterday I was on the way to work, listening to Stephen King’s audiobook Dreamcatcher, and as I took the exit for my office, I was actively grimacing, wanting to turn the damn thing off and listen to music instead… but felt strangely compelled to continue listening.

I mean, I’m seriously sweating here. I even made a tentative stab at the off switch a couple of times, but couldn’t do it.

I’m not even a Stephen King fan. Which might be part of the problem, since I don’t know for sure if this is all going to work out.

Dreamcatcher is about aliens landing and earthlings taking a less than hospitable attitude.

The movie, which I didn’t see, is supposed to horrible. All I can say is that if the movie was half as upsetting as the audiobook, then I would have called it horrible too. Why the heck do people subject themselves to this?

Most of the book is fairly run of the mill, and takes a bit too long to develop; although I hear that that’s what King books are like in general. Perhaps he does it on purpose to accentuate the horror when the horror begins.

Most of the book has references to death, sporadic dismemberment, nightmares, and the occasional cheating on a test. But this part is bad. Things with too many teeth, and bathrooms with too much blood…

Earlier today I snuck out to my car and plugged in the FM transmitter for my mp3 player. I’m hoping that that will make it easier to listen to music instead of the audiobook.

The problem is that I left the CD player on when I slammed the door and rushed from my car this morning. So when I turn on the car, I have to listen to the audiobook. For at least five seconds.

Maybe I’ll just walk home. It’s only 20 miles.


Glad I’m Not the Only One (Underutilizing Podcasts)

Fresh research shows that most people who click on podcast links, including presumably our own audiobook podcasts, don’t actually listen to the darn things.

Certainly, they don’t listen to podcasts on their portable players. Maybe people click on podcast links because they think they’re supposed to?

They are, after all, very cool. I love saying it. Podcast. Podcast. Podcast podcast podcast.

I’m happy to admit that I don’t listen to podcasts. I have an iPod, I know what a podcast is, and I know where to get them.

I did download a video podcast a while ago of Ask a Ninja, which I thought was hilarious, but then I never downloaded another one.

Not least of why because I don’t trust my iTunes software to manage my music library, so I turned off the whole update automatically thing. I haven’t noticed my life deteriorating, not even relative to my podcast-saying-but-not-doing friends.

I’m just glad I’m not the only one clicking on podcast links because I think they’re cool. Wait, here comes a co-staffer, I have to find some podcast links and click on them.


Most People are Stupid

I often wonder whether people are basically good, or basically evil. It would appear that it’s more interesting to think about whether they’re basically intelligent, or basically stupid.

Scott Adams’ (author of the Dilbert audiobooks) writes a blog about mob rule and the definition of ‘right’ being determined by the majority, defined as 67%-ish of the public.

If you assume people are basically stupid and we elect politicians to protect us from ourselves, then Adams is probably wrong, and you watch too much television.

If you think politicians decide policy independently of what is considered ‘right’ by the 2/3 majority, then Adams is probably wrong, and you don’t watch enough television (C-span).

But if you think that in general, government policy follows the popular opinion of what is right (2/3 because we have to filter out hypocrites)… then Adams is right.

And Adams IS right. People are basically intelligent. Especially people who “read” audiobooks, even if they call it listening. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

favorite book

What is a ‘Favorite’ Book?

People sometimes ask me about my favorite books.

For me, the test is whether I’ve read the book more than once and/or recommended it many times.

Aren’t your favorite movies ones you’ve seen many times? Like the original Star Wars series, or Sound of Music?

My favorite book then would have to be Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.

It’s a book that non-sci-fi lovers love, despite its the scenario of an alien invasion. So I like recommending it because it introduces them to something really new.

I’m not normally a fan of love stories, but I recently listened to The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and darned if what I thought was science fiction didn’t turn out to be a wonderful genre-spanning love story. But….

I can’t say it’s of my all-time favorites, because another criterion for that distinction has to be the test of time.

My 10-year-old daughter just read Ender’s Game and loved it (it’s also trans-generational).

She’s also read each of the Harry Potter books a couple of times.

I wonder if Harry will stand the test of time? You can’t recommend the darn book, just because everyone’s already read it.

Da Vinci Code is another that I think is a great book, but is more of a cultural fad than one that people will recall decades later and reminisce about their first time.

Speaking of which, you should check out the movie Bambi… My daughter has watched is several (more than 30) times and highly recommends it.

Believe it or not, it’s also a book.

Unfortunately for me, it’s not sci-fi, though I’ve always wondered how all those animals learned to talk.