Thursday, August 31, 2006

NetLibrary and other Audiobook sources

I feel like I'm cheating here, I teach the NetLibrary tech talk and have already used Overdrive. I will say a few things about NetLibrary, though.

First, it is getting better. They did a recent face lift and seem to have upgraded the server too, as I noticed the downloads are a lot faster. Of course the files are still rather big so I can't do many on my trusty Muvo since it's just too small. That is one thing about OverDrive, since they break the files up and you can further break them up, you can put them on smaller players, wowie zowie! They still have that whole Windows vs Mac and iPod vs Windows Plays for Sure issues but I do think they are better. Maybe some of the recent legal disputes with Apple's iTunes will turn into forcing the Media players to better compatibility. Here's the ArsTechnica article on the meeting in Norway last month:

Apple, Scandinavian consumer ombudsmen talk iTunes

Second, they added a few tools to browsing. You can now sort by date and even stipulate oldest or newest first. I would like a sort by length however. When finding stuff for classes, I spent hours finding books under 90MB. but for my husband I'd like the longest. Of course with netLibrary being free that isn't that much of an issue.

I also started him on a Librivox book and he liked it but we both can see some difficulties. They are straight mp3 files with no DRM so anybody can listen to them on just about anything, but the readers are amateurs and it shows. They post the books a chapter at a time and frequently have several readers for the same book so there is a loss of continuity that you won't see with paid services like Audible, netLibrary and OverDrive. Anyway, it was nice to try it.

I do want to check out one of the Mercury Theater mp3's too. I bet they would be good if you are into old radio dramas, good thing I am. However, I am a bit reluctant to install BitTorrent to manage the downloads.

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