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 (www.playawaydigital.com), 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.