I like books. Recently I got attracted by audiobooks. This looks like cheating a bit, because it’s not pure reading, however, I must say it’s far from cheating. Listening requires (at least for me) even more attention than reading.
Anyway, I am now keen on audiobooks, and as it usually happens, my experience with the Web comes into play. So I started thinking whether it is a valid idea to build a social site fully dedicated to audiobooks – or more generally reading text aloud and listening to recordings.
Let me analyze the idea of this social site in several axes.
Clearly the social object would be a piece of read aloud material. For simplicity we can think of a chapter of a book. When all the chapters are available the whole audiobook is there. Interestingly, an audiobook can be assembled into one even if each chapter is read by different people.
We’ve got chapters of audiobooks as downloadable files on the site. There will be two kinds of people visiting the site: those who submit their readings to the site and those who will want to download audiobooks. Besides all the usual features like sharing, bookmarking, chatting, reviewing, flagging, rating etc. audiobookers will need some special tools and features, such as: audioconferencing for real time multicharacter recordings, a friendly avatar that impersonates the reader, rankings of the best (popular) readers, transcription of audio into text for search engine optimization, and so on.
Software-wise everything looks solvable. It’s just a Web site maybe with AIR desktop applications for reading aloud, saving, organizing, listening, etc. to books. The greatest challenge is how to ensure that the reader is reading the book the way it was written. And then, how to ensure that the readers will correctly name the pieces they read so that they (semi-)automatically could become one audiobook. Probably this is only achievable by croudsourcing and social filtering.
All the materials on the site should be available for free because it’s community generated content. Still there are plenty of opportunities for paid services. For instance:
- assemble audiobooks out of separate chapters for those who don’t have time to do that by themselves;
- sell professionally read audiobooks; allow the readers selling their recordings and take a percentage from each transaction;
- provide additional tools for readers to promote themselves and get statistics;
- organize paid events where book authors read aloud a chapter or two of their books;
- use the audiobooking infrastructure for voice recordings management system as a service;