Independent presses go to audiobook.

I learned today that Audible.com is launching “IndieFirst” – a pre-release program for forthcoming books from independent presses.  (On good behavior.)  The idea has some merit, especially if it gets more traction for the indies.  They’re launching with Joe Meno’s forthcoming Demons in the Spring from Akashic Books.  I don’t know anything about Joe Meno, but the kids like him.  They list three upcoming releases as well, but I didn’t recognize any of those authors.  Maybe you will.

I also learned that McSweeney’s is getting into audio, as well – through eMusic.  Two downloads available now; one of them has Jonathan Ames reading his own “Bored to Death” which, apparently, is going to be an HBO series featuring this guy:

Make of that what you will.  The McSweeney’s download with Ames on it also features the following whimsy:

Interspersed throughout the collection are segments of Keith Pille’s hilarious journal of an eager young COBRA recruit who is in training to fight GI Joes. His numbing daily routines in service of Destro are absurd, and also bizarrely touching: while he prepares for battle, an internal war rages between endless enthusiasm and disheartening ennui. He also shouts “COBRAAAAAA!” a lot.

Again, make of that what you will.  In my case, I just completely wasted five minutes of my life searching the internet (in vain) for a sound file of “COBRAAAAAA!” from the 80’s cartoon.

I can’t tell you much about how well HearWho works, because they got featured at LifeHacker and of course their server promptly crashed.  Still seems dead in the water, but I like the potential – you feed it text, it spits out an audio file.  You can choose the narrator’s gender, English/Spanish, and four different settings for sound quality/file size.  I’m skeptical about how good the reading will sound, but when it’s free it’s worth a shot.  There’s also this site, if you want this guy reading to you.

Finally, The Moth.  Some sort of travelling storytelling series – like Selected Shorts, I think, but more homespun, if something in New York that features Gladwell, Moby, and Ethan Hawke on the main page can be categorized as “homespun.”  I jest, but it looks like a great series; there’s a podcast, you can listen to stories right on the site, and (get ready, here it comes) they’ve been doing this for ten years now, so you know they’re no fly-by-night operation.

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