Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Audio Book

I mentioned bringing entertainment along for my road trip. The nature of the entertainment is... audio books. I knew that I would go crazy listening to 10 to 12 hours of music, whether my own or by scanning for radio stations, so I decided to try out two books instead.

While looking around on Amazon, I found a link to a, which sells downloadable audio books, for a discount. On top of that, you can subscribe and basically get two books for $21.95 a month. Since audio books are pricey, this is quite a bargain. More on that later...

I noticed that getting a book on audio introduces at least two new variables. One is often whether to buy the unabridged version versus the abridged version, as many books are available in both. The other is the quality of the narrator - I read many reviews of books where customers essentially said "the novel is great, but the narrator is horrible".

Anyway, after browsing for a while, I decided to buy Q is for Quarry, and Fahrenheit 451 on CD. I thought the mystery genre would make a great audio book - no temptation to flip to the end to see the resolution! - and I read a few of Sue Grafton's "alphabet" series a while ago. I got the abridged edition and felt that was OK as I probably wasn't going to miss too much. As for "Fahrenheit 451" - this is a SciFi classic I've never read, and the audio version is unabridged and narrated by Ray Bradbury! Both audio books are about 6 hours long, which is nearly perfect for the drive.

For the drive out, I decided to listen to "Q is for Quarry". Overall, the audio book experience is really good: it was very easy to follow the plot while driving. If anything, my drive was too short as I didn't quite finish up the story, something I'll have to do in bits and pieces as I drive around.

Now, about I downloaded "The Fountainhead" but wasn't planning to listen to it as it is much longer than I needed. Unfortunately, I had some trouble downloading another book (I had selected an earlier mystery novel in Sue Grafton's series). I tried a few things but discovered I was no longer able to play "The Fountainhead" on my computer, much less burn it to CD. Trying to play the audio track on my computer resulted in a password authorization failure - one downside of so-called DRM (digital rights management) schemes that attempt to prevent unauthorized copying. In this case, it prevented authorized playback. ;) Anyway, I suspect reinstalling Audible's software will fix this problem, but that was that last thing I wanted to fiddle with amidst the number of errands I had to accomplish before leaving for Idaho.

Something to think about - owning the CD is protection against this sort of problem. I was going to try out for a few months. If I fix the problem and find I have an ongoing demand for audio books, I'll be sure to burn them to CD as soon as I download, to help prevent this sort of loss of access.

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