Apple scoops Iain Banks podcast novel first

In a book trade first, Iain Banks’s latest novel, ‘Transition’, is to become the first newly published book to be serialised internationally on iTunes.

Publisher Little, Brown Book Group has reached a deal to make an abridged audio version of the novel available as a free podcast. The first podcast will go live on September 3 when the novel is published. A further 22 episodes, each 15 minutes long, will be released on iTunes in the UK and US every Thursday and Saturday for 12 weeks.

Sarah Shrubb, editorial director of Little, Brown UK’s digital imprint Hachette Digital said: “This is the first time an audio has been serialised in this way, and we’re very excited to be doing something so groundbreaking. Iain Banks is one of Little, Brown’s biggest authors, and we’re absolutely delighted to be promoting him through this cutting-edge digital campaign.”

Maja Thomas, vice president of digital publishing for Hachette Livre: “Hachette Digital is pleased to participate in this collaborative marketing on an author we’re publishing internationally, and to bring Iain Banks to new listeners through iTunes.”

The author himself observes, “I had barely caught up with the later half of the Twentieth Century when here I am being ensnarled by gizmology from the Twenty-First. I am left breathless by the pace of technology.”

What is ‘Transition’? From publisher’s site: “A world that hangs suspended between triumph and catastrophe, between the dismantling of the Wall and the fall of the Twin Towers, frozen in the shadow of suicide terrorism and global financial collapse, such a world requires a firm hand and a guiding light. But does it need the Concern: an all-powerful organisation with a malevolent presiding genius, pervasive influence and numberless invisible operatives in possession of extraordinary powers?

“On the Concern’s books are Temudjin Oh, an un-killable assassin who journeys between the peaks of Nepal, a version of Victorian London and the dark palaces of Venice; and a nameless, faceless torturer known only as the Philosopher. And then there’s the renegade Mrs Mulverhill, who recruits rebels to her side; and Patient 8262, hiding out from a dirty past in a forgotten hospital ward. As these vivid, strange and sensuous worlds circle and collide, the implications of turning traitor to the Concern become horribly apparent, and an unstable universe is set on a dizzying course.”

4 thoughts on “Apple scoops Iain Banks podcast novel first

  1. Evo Terra

    Welcome, Iain and Little, Brown, to the world of serialized audiobooks distributed via RSS feeds.

    Iain finds himself in good company. Well over 200 authors have used this distribution method since early 2005, and over 300 titles have been released to date.

    It’s a big step for publishers to “let go” and embrace the give-it-away-for-free attitude. But as many who’ve come before have found, success is to be had with that approach.

    I’m looking forward to listening and hope the tens of thousands of podcast audiobooks will enjoy Iain’s work.

  2. Matthew Wayne Selznick

    With respect to to Mister Banks, whose work I enjoy a great deal, “Transition” is not the first novel to be simultaneously released in print and free podcast editions.

    My own book, “Brave Men Run – A Novel of the Sovereign Era,” takes that honor. It became the first novel with a simultaneous initial release in paperback, five DRM-free e-book formats and free unabridged podcast editions in November of 2005. Then, as now, it was available via iTunes and a number of other podcast directories.

    “Brave Men Run — A Novel of the Sovereign Era” was also one of the first twenty five podcast novels. Find out more about “Brave Men Run — A Novel of the Sovereign Era” at, where you can subscribe to the free podcast, read the entire book online for free, or purchase a copy in paperback or in a number of electronic formats.

    It’s great to see Iain Banks distributing his work (albeit in an abridged fashion) via podcast. Little Brown Group is likewise to be congratulated for understanding that giving away something for free is an excellent way to drive sales and build audience.

    I do wish Little Brown Group had done their homework first, though. Their claim to “first” is almost four years too late.

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