- The Internet offers an alternative to buying or renting audio books by mail: Download the books you want to hear. This, however, presents a copyright problem – think of Napster and its successors. Publishers are reluctant to make their audio books available online in a format that is easily copyable, as it would be like giving them away.
The solution is to encrypt recorded books in a way that lets the buyer hear them but not copy them, and that is exactly what’s done by Audible.com Besides offering nearly 6,000 books for download – abridged and unabridged – the company also offers daily readings of selected articles from The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal as well as from magazines such as Scientific American, Forbes and The Harvard Business Review. It also lets you download and record programs from National Public Radio, which the NPR Web site does not.
You can then listen to these recorded books or newspapers or whatever on your computer, or burn them onto CDs for your car, or transfer them to some – but not all – portable MP3 players and other handheld devices.
“We have customers in 122 countries,” the company’s spokesman, Jonathan Korzen, said by telephone from the headquarters in New Jersey. He said the international customers included expatriated Americans and people learning and using English as a second language who are as interested in the language itself as in the content.
….But what I really want to do is walk around with the audio books so I can have books read to me in otherwise wasted time. Here’s where the portable MP3 player comes in. But be careful. Not all portable MP3 players work with Audible’s files. In particular, iPod for Windows – the best MP3 player on the market – can’t handle those files, though iPod for Macintosh can.
….This is a very consumer-friendly service offering a most welcome product.
CNET digs it as well:
- The selection is outstanding, the cost is far less than that of purchasing old-fashioned books on tape, and Audible recently added support for CD burning. Forget books on tape and sign up for this digital library pronto.
Low price; automatic downloads
Though you can purchase Audible.com content piecemeal–bought separately, fiction and nonfiction titles average 35 percent cheaper than their cassette-tape counterparts–the better bet is to sign up for one of two AudibleListener plans. For $12.95 per month, you can download one audio book and one subscription-based offering, such as NPR’s This American Life. Pony up $15.95 per month, and the deal includes two audio books.
Except for one or two confusing features (more on that later), it’s easy to browse and shop at Audible.com. First, you must download and install the AudibleManager–Windows-only software that shuttles downloads from the service to your player. Unfortunately, Macintosh users can’t download Audible selections; they can only stream them using RealPlayer. Next, peruse the site to add selections to your shopping cart. Once purchased, the choices show up in your permanent online library. A few clicks transfer the content to your PC, where AudibleManager intercepts it. You must manually transfer books to your player, but AudibleManager can synchronize with your online library to fetch subscription content automatically. Just plug in your media player overnight, and you can wake up to the New York Times preloaded for the ride to work.
….Audible.com scores with its terrific library of reasonably priced content and newly added support for CD listening. If you like the spoken word, you’ll love this service. It’s one of the Web’s true gems.
High praise indeed. Have any Blogcritics checked it out yet?