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SFF Audio Gets a Boost

17/08/2004. Contributed by Jessica Martin

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Palm Digital Media team leaves to set up a science fiction audio-book firm.

The team of technology and publishing veterans that created Palm Digital Media, one of the more successful ebook technologies in the market today, have come together to launch Paperback Digital, Inc.

Micheal Segroves, Jeff Strobel and Dave Pascoe, the team that created the Palm Reader software and managed the Palm Digital Media eBookstore until last fall, are now bringing their expertise and love of books to audiobook publishing.

Paperback Digital will publish audiobook editions of the best-selling and classic titles from the science-fiction, fantasy and horror genres. The company aims to utilize the MP3-CD audiobook standard adopted by the Audio Publishers Association and the Consumer Electronics Association in December, 2002 to enable it to offer unabridged audiobooks that are attractively priced.

"Traditional audio technology limited an audio CD to only 74 minutes of recorded sound," explained Jeff Strobel, co-founder. "But by using MP3 compression, Paperback Digital can put up to 15 hours of recorded voice on a single CD. That means that for most genre novels, we are able to release an unabridged book on a single disc. And that means a much lower price to the consumer."

Micheal Segroves, President and co-founder, continued, "In the past, the vast majority of science-fiction and fantasy titles were never even considered for audiobook publication. The length of the books required from 10 to 20 standard CDs and that drove the price up to double the hardcover price and sometimes even higher. But because we can usually publish our titles on a single CD, Paperback Digital will price most of our titles at between $14.95 and $25."

Dave Pascoe, co-founder, added, "The smaller sizes of our audiobooks also means that we can offer our books as digital downloads as well as on a CD. The customer will need a broadband connection, for example, a cable modem, but they will be able to download most of our titles in about 30 minutes. We will open our new website and online bookstore on September 7th and we'll be offering consumers the ability to purchase our audiobook releases as either a physical MP3-CD that we will ship to them or as a download that they can receive and start enjoying immediately."

Paperback Digital's initial releases will include a number of titles from Baen Books. Toni Weisskopf, Executive Editor, noted, "We are very pleased to be partnering with Paperback Digital in their new venture. Science-fiction has long been a neglected piece of the audiobook market. We believe that there's a large demand out there for quality science-fiction and fantasy audiobooks that has been going largely untapped. Paperback Digital is well positioned to serve that market and we're happy that Baen Books is a significant contributor to their strategy."

Paperback Digital plans to make its titles available through a variety of online and offline retailers. In addition to the Paperback Digital store, Fictionwise, Inc. (http://www.fictionwise.com/), one the largest independent eBook retailers in the world, will be one of the first retailers to make Paperback Digital audiobooks available to their customers as downloadable products. Scott Pendergrast, co-owner of Fictionwise, noted: "Fictionwise is excited to enter the downloadable audiobook market with Paperback Digital. Their plans, which takes advantage of the latest technology and focuses on underserved genres, is perfect for our audience."

Paperback Digital will make it titles available for the first time over Labor Day weekend at the World Science Fiction Convention being held in Boston. The titles that are available will be:

1634: The Galileo Affair by Eric Flint and Andrew Dennis, $19.95, Length: 21 Hours; 2 MP3-CDs

Eric Flint moves the focus of his best-selling alternate history series to Venice and a host of new characters. Hippy Tom Stone founds a modern pharmaceutical industry while his sons rescue a very different Galileo than the history books record. Meanwhile Father Mazzare defends Galileo at his trial and faces the Church, testing his faith and showing the complexities of 17th Century theology...

Hardcover published by: Baen Books

Spirits In The Wires by Charles de Lint, $14.95, Length: 17 Hours; 1 MP3- CD

When the popular Newford website Wordwood crashes, everyone who was logged in disappears into thin air. Writer Christy Riddell and his friends must travel into that netherworld of spirits and elves to rescue their companions by doing battle with the spirit who powers this world before it can cause more harm...

Simultaneous publication with TOR Books trade paperback release

Coming October 1st will be:

Cally's War by John Ringo and Julie Cochrane, $25.00, Length: 14 Hours; 1 MP3-CD

For as long as Cally could remember, she had lived in danger. While her father was off fighting the invading Posleen she had been raised by her grandfather, on the front-lines of a war that had erased five billion humans from the face of the earth. Cally has been fighting for the future of the human race, but now she's in a war for the survival of her soul....

Simultaneous publication with Baen Books hardcover release

And on Halloween:

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris, $14.95, Length: 12 Hours 30 Minutes; 1 MP3-CD

The first book in Harris' best-selling Southern Vampire Mystery series. Roadhouse waitress Sookie Stackhouse has a problem: she can read minds. And who wants to go on a date with a guy when you can't get near him without seeing the images of yourself flitting through his head. It was just easier to stay home and watch TV. Until the night she got a bottle of beer for a new customer and found one man whose minds was a blank wall to her. What difference did it make that he was a vampire? ...

Mass Market paperback published by: Ace Books

On November 1st, Paperback Digital will release:

Reflex by Steven Gould, $23.95, Length: 14 Hours, 1 MP3-CD

The sequel to Gould's 1992 best-selling debut novel, Jumper, this new novel picks up 10 years later, when Davy is kidnapped by a fanatic who wants the secret of teleportation and his wife, Millie, has to rescue him. She has no idea of where or how to start, until she falls and reflexively jumps to safety.

Simultaneous publication with TOR Books hardcover release

On December 1st, Paperback Digital will release:

Survival, Species Imperative 1 by Julie E. Czerneda, $14.95, Length: 16 Hours, 1 MP3-CD

When her field research station is mysteriously attacked, marine biologist Dr. Mackenzie Connor must flee for her life. Joining forces with an alien archaeologist, she escapes to his planet on a quest to find a defense against the unknown aggressor-before they launch a full-scale invasion of Earth.

For more details, check them out at www.paperbackdigital.com

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