Tiny Code

Tiny Code

Thursday, June 25, 2009

e-audiobooks rock!

For a long time I've been listening to audiobooks to make commuting or exercise more bearable. Our local library used to have a great selection of audiobooks on cassette. The last time I checked, they were slowly transitioning to CD based audiobooks. I never borrowed a book in that form as they only seemed to stock recent bestsellers and I don't find most recent books as engrossing as some of the old classics by authors like Nevil Shute, Rudyard Kipling, and Robert Louis Stevenson among others.

Fast forward to a couple years ago. I discovered that our local library had started carrying e-audiobooks which could be downloaded to an MP3 player with support for Windows Media DRM aka protected WMA files). With mixed feelings, I purchased a refurbished MP3 player capable of playing protected WMA files. It irked me that I couldn't play this protected media on the iPod I used for most of my music. The MP3 player gave me a years worth of service before developing some interface quirks which became so bothersome as to be unbearable. It's hard to believe that with an iPod as a model of how to design a decent user interface, other manufacturers do such an abysmal job.

The refurbished replacement I purchased from another manufacturer was slightly better but still paled in comparison to the iPod's interface. It lasted me another year before refusing to connect using its USB interface without jumping through a strange series of steps I found on a user forum for a different model player from the same manufacturer. The prospect of spending more money on yet another unsatisfactory MP3 player didn't thrill me.

Fortunately, my library wasn't sitting idle during this time. They've recently made available a new service from Overdrive, the company which offers e-audiobooks for download. They offer an MP3 version of some of the e-audiobooks. Sadly this is a fledgling service at the moment so the selections aren't nearly as extensive as the WMA selections are yet but I'm hoping this will improve with time.

So far I've listened to Kipling's Captains Courageous and Stevenson's Kidnapped. Both were wonderful and made me choose longer paths when walking the dog so I could listen longer. If you've got activities which might benefit from distractions such as a good book being read by a skilled narrator, I recommend you check with your local library to see whether the offer e-audiobooks.

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