Strange delivery

playaway

I went to our nearby new library recently. I checked out a book in a new form — the “Playaway”. Basically, I am a sucker for new things — and free new things are even better.

These are not for the average consumer — they are about $35–40 each. (You can buy the Kindle edition of this book for about $10.)

The title? (“Living Well in a Down Economy” — one of the “Dummies” series.) I didn’t listen to the whole thing. There were some interesting bits about breathing right and preparing a resume. (My wife is looking for a job). It’s rare that I would have time to listen to a whole book like that, so this format isn’t for me.

I think this is a bad idea. You get a cheap MP3 player with a pre-loaded title. The sound is very poor compared to a real MP3 player. Navigation is sub-standard. (The interface “screen” is a tiny LCD readout.)

My recommendation? Libraries should “lend” MP3 titles of audio books via iTunes that would be playable for a 3-week time period. Then you use your trusted MP3 player and the interface you know and (hopefully) love. For people without an MP3 player? Perhaps Apple could produce a super-durable iPod that libraries could lend out for 3-week increments.

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6 Replies to “Strange delivery”

  1. I think the people who do the MP3 players used for distributing audio bibles might disagree with the claim about being the world’s first preloaded audio player — Sabre, Megavoice, Faith Comes by Hearing etc.

  2. Call me a purist, but when the library starts lending out MP3’s and not books We have lost something… No thanks, I will take the book. The tangible, reviewable, sharable analog version is fine for me.

  3. While I much prefer reading an “analog version” (great phrase, Carl), there are times when an audio book is just the thing. My wife and I listened to 2 Clive Cussler books while we were travelling during August.

    There is an online service that lends e-books in some format, perhaps MP3. Your local library probably has to have an agreement with them. And, last time I tried to use it, it was incompatible with Macs. Still, it’s an idea that’s coming:

    http://www.netlibrary.com/

  4. Update on NetLibrary: NetLibrary now has limited support for Macintosh. As long as the audiobooks are in the MP3 format, they can be used. Apparently Microsoft has crippled (either intentionally or just because of development lag) the Windows Media Player for Macs and the current WMP-Mac doesn’t support the Digital Rights Management protocols used by NetLibrary.

  5. Our library system in Arlington does the “lending” system for audio books via the net (NetLibrary, I think, and another service). The problem? The mp3 players never seem to be compatible with the downloaded files. I’ve never once been able to make one work. They do have to pay some pretty stiff licensing fees, I think, and it’s a shame it doesn’t work better. I think they’re probably losing or wasting a lot of money on it. We’ve got a ways to go with this technology.

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