Saturday, January 07, 2006

Another New Audio Book Device

Wednesday's Wall Street Journal (WSJ) had an article on a new audio option for readers.

The new digital audio book device is called the Playaway. If you visit the Playaway website (, you'll find they describe it as the first self-playing digital audio book.

The Playaway is targeted to technophobes who don't know how to download and transfer content from their computer to a Mp3 player, and who don't want to learn. It is an audio book and player in one. All the reader needs to do is plug in the ear buds, pull the tab to activate the battery and press the power button twice (once to turn it on and once to play).

The device is about three inches by two inches and can be worn around the neck or tucked in a pocket. It can also be plugged into your home or car stereo so that more than one person can listen at once.

"You can't connect a Playaway to a computer, or erase books from it, or add books or music to it. In effect, each Playaway is a book, which happens to come with a cheap player." (WSJ)

Of course, ease and mobility don't come cheap. Each Playaway book costs between $35 and $55. They can be purchased at Borders, Barnes & Noble and OfficeMax. Since the product was only introduced in November, there are just 32 titles listed on the website. They include foreign language tapes, non-fiction and fictional bestsellers.

Think of it as another waystation on the road to consumer choice.


For The Trees said...

Now I LIKE this option. I think that many Americans are really technophobes, and to be able to buy a book that plays with no hassles, well, that's a good option. The question is, can one play it over and over, or only as long as the battery lasts? And if the battery dies before the book's finished, can they get the battery replaced or another book?

Interesting possibilities.

Maya said...

An expensive option. For four Playaways, you can buy an iPod Nano. But, as you say, a viable choice for technophobes.

Yes, the batteries are replaceable and the book can be listened to many times and passed on to others (or sold, I guess).