In an attempt to capitalize on people’s short attention spans and ever-increasing dependence on iPods and other MP3 players, a new company, iMinds, has launched a series of eight-minute audiobooks that offer compact overviews of general knowledge subjects ranging from the history of whale hunting to creationism. There are currently 72 iMinds MindTracks available for download at Audible and the iTunes store, and iMinds plans to roll out hundreds more by the end of 2010. The audiobooks, or "tracks," are available in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Australia.
Tracks cost $0.99 each, or customers may buy them in bundles, paying $3.99 for six, $5.99 for 12, $14.99 for 36 or $24.99 for 72. The tracks cover 12 categories: ideas and concepts; politics; law and business; the arts; history; people and places; medicine and inventions; sports and action; crime; war and conflict; pop culture; science and nature; culture and religion; and mystery and conspiracy. Initial titles include The Federal Reserve, Epidemics, D-Day Invasion, Seven Wonders, Film Noir, Stockholm Syndrome, and Evolution.
Olivia Wood founded iMinds in Sydney, Australia, earlier this year. She had previously worked in magazine publishing in Australia and at NewsLink, an Australian book retailer, and wanted to create a place for nonfiction content to be formatted for MP3 players. iMinds employs researchers, writers and topic experts to create content, and editors and fact-checkers to ensure accuracy. Voice-over artists read the content against a backdrop of music and sound effects. The company does not collaborate with book publishers for content. A spokesperson said that in the future, iMinds may partner with other content producers, but currently that is not a main objective, nor does it have plans to release its content in print or e-book format.
Wood believes iMinds MindTracks are “the perfect companion for busy MP3 owners who utilize technology to get the most out of life.” Additionally, as part of an initiative called The KUE Project, iMinds will send tracks free of charge to any nonprofit, library, school, teaching college or non-government organization that qualifies.
The company has hired a national PR agency and is working with Audible’s marketing efforts. MindTracks went live earlier in September, and while the company would not release the number of downloads, a spokesperson said that in the U.S., so far both the Anime and Film Noir tracks have landed on iTunes’ Arts & Entertainment Top 100 list. Christina Harcar, director of editorial business development at Audible, called iMinds “a compelling new category of content that will appeal to a broad range of consumers.”