If you haven't got broadband you can probably skip this one.
Holtzbrinck (not the world's easiest name to spell) Publishers is a group of publishing companies in the US which is held by Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck, which is based in Stuttgart, Germany.
The US firms under the Holtzbrinck umbrella now include: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Henry Holt; St Martin's Press; Palgrave Macmillan; Picador; Tor Books; and others. How are the mighty fallen, eh? Tip: if you do business with the Stuttgart boys, don't mention the war.
Anyway, Holtzbrinck have today opened up a new web site, Holtzbrinck Podcasts. The purpose of this site is to publicise books through 'podcasts', which turn out to be audio recordings. You are invited to listen to the excerpt from the book, become seriously impressed, and then rush out to buy the thing.
Well, yes. And then again, no.
Podcasts appear to be the in thing at the moment. Though in truth they are nothing revolutionary. It's just like listening to good old steam radio. The new site does not appear to me to be particularly easy to use -- unless of course you have an intimate grasp of the difference between RSS and MP3, and similar technical matters, which I don't.
I sampled the podcast of the week and found it, I regret to say, a bit juvenile. It's all a bit Wow man, this is really cool. And in fact it's very old-fashioned. The whole site, in short, seems to be aimed at those under 25 or so, technically gifted but a bit unsophisticated in terms of reading matter.
M.J. Rose is a lot more impressed with the podcast as a marketing tool than I am, but she thinks Holtzbrinck are going about it the wrong way.