[guispeak] FW: [gui-talk] Fwd: Books without paper, tapes or CDs: Literature , for PDA and iPod.

  • From: Andy Baracco <wq6r@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: acb-l@xxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 21 Jun 2005 21:13:52 -0700

>Books without paper, tapes or CDs: Literature, for PDA and iPod.
>By Sandy Bauers
>Philadelphia Inquirer, PA, June 19, 2005
>Bob Wetherall has tried it, and he likes it.
>The Gloucester County Library director simply sat at his computer,
>clicked a few buttons, and waited a bit.
>Not long afterward, he was in his car, listening to one of John
>Sandford's Prey novels on a little device plugged into the sound system.
>"It works!" he said. Better still, "it's easy."
>And, in all likelihood, it's coming soon to a library near you.
>One of the fastest-growing segments of the publishing world is audio
>books, and one of the fastest-growing segments of the audio book world
>is digital downloads - loading a book onto a personal listening device
>via the Internet.
>The latest development - one that will bring more audio books to more
>people and, best of all, for free - is that libraries are offering
>The Gloucester County library system recently started offering
>downloads from Recorded Books, giving patrons access to 800 audio titles
and growing.
>You don't have to be in the building, or even in the same state. You
>just need a computer.
>Basically, you log on to the library Web site, enter your library-card
>number, and you're zapped into the download site. Assuming you have a
>quick connection (dial-up is possible, if interminable), 20 minutes
>later you have an entire book in your computer, ready for burning to a
>CD or transfer to a personal listening device.
>Like something out of Mission: Impossible, in an allotted period of
>time (21 days, say), the book in your computer as good as
>self-destructs - it locks up and is no longer accessible, although if
>you've transferred it already, keep listening.
>Burlington County has a similar service. Chester and Camden counties
>plan to offer audio downloads in July.
>Bucks, Delaware and Philadelphia are waiting and watching with interest.
>No more late fees. No more lost books. No need to replace an entire
>recording because one CD is scratched.
>Some think downloads will bring in a whole new raft of library customers.
>Maybe a new group of audio-book converts.
>"Libraries are going to get tens of millions of new customers hooked on
>your product," Steve Potash of OverDrive, one of the digital-download
>companies, told a group of audio publishers in New York recently.
>Interest in David McCullough's new history, 1776, is high. But a
>library can afford only so many printed copies - six in the case of
Gloucester County.
>All are checked out, and 19 "hold" requests have mounted up.
>But since Recorded Books allows unlimited downloads of any title, "just
>go get it when you want it," Wetherall said. "It's always in."
>Downloads mean libraries can be open around the clock. They require
>zero staff time.
>All this is possible because of the proliferation of personal listening
>Brian Fielding of Audible, another download company, figures there are
>140 devices capable of playing a book, including iPods, MP3 players and
>PDAs, and even some of the newer high-memory cell phones. (Not all
>downloads work with all devices. The Recorded Books service won't work
>with iPods.)
>Consider the possibilities for Philadelphia, where Mayor Street wants
>to build a citywide wireless Internet system.
>If the Philadelphia library decides to go with digital audio - "we're
>definitely looking into it," said Anne Lee of the materials-management
>department - you could be at LOVE Park, at the sports complex in South
>Philadelphia, or picnicking along the Schuylkill and still be able to
>download an audio book from the library.
>Digital doubters have only to look at Audible's own growth, mostly due
>to direct consumer downloads, although it also serves about 100 libraries.
>Sales were $12 million in 2002, then $19 million in 2003, $34 million
>last year, and now on target for sales of $65 million this year.
>The company has more than 500,000 customers, growing at a clip of 120
>percent per year.
>"We have only scratched the surface at this point," Audible spokesman
>David Joseph said.
>OverDrive began offering digital downloads to libraries in November.
>Eight months later, they're in 1,000 libraries, including Burlington
>Burlington County's service is one title, one checkout instead of
>"I can tell by the fact that they're checked out that people love them,"
>library coordinator Molly Connor said.
>On Monday, the New York Public Library became OverDrive's latest
>customer, starting with 733 titles. As of Thursday, a little more than
>three days later, 680 of those had been checked out.
>The library's staff was bowled over. "We're certainly hoping to add to
>the collection," spokesman Tim Farrell said. "We're very excited."
>Recorded Books, which has offered book rentals and sales for two
>decades, began its download service in February. About 200 libraries have
signed up.
>Audio publishers predict an end to cassettes - maybe even CDs - within
>10 years. It hinges on how soon manufacturers install hard drives in
>cars - a few are planning to do so next year.
>Brilliance Audio's Eileen Hutton foresees a day when a book will be
>loaded into your car stereo via your home computer network while you
>brush your teeth. Drive to the train, and your car will tell your
>portable device where to pick up its reading. Want to curl up with the
>print book at night? Your device will note what page you're on.
>Another factor is the popularity of audio books themselves.
>On average, each of Gloucester County's 8,000 audio books circulates
>6.5 times a year, compared with 2.5 times a year for other materials.
>The 7,000 audio books at Chester County's Exton branch circulate 10
>times a year.
>Retail sales for audio books are growing at 14 percent a year, even as
>the rest of publishing has gone flat.
>Some publishers predict this could be the year audio books gain not
>only recognition as more than "those books for the blind," but also
>legitimacy among all but diehard snobs.
>Just weeks ago, that most literary of Manhattan hotels, the Algonquin,
>began lending guests iPods loaded with audio books.
>"If we... just put music on, it wouldn't make sense," said manager
>Anthony Melchiorri. Listening to literature, on the other hand, "is
>true to who we are."
>Literary critic Harold Bloom recently insisted to a New York Times
>writer that "you need the text in front of you."
>"We'll always have Harold Blooms around," said Audio Renaissance
>publisher Mary Beth Roche, "but they'll be drowned out by the people
>clamoring for audio."
>Times change; so do opinions.
>Philadelphia author Jennifer Weiner, a former Inquirer reporter,
>declared in this newspaper in 2000 that audio books were
>"unsatisfying," not to mention "less engaging, less fulfilling."
>But guess who narrated the audio version of her latest novel, Little
>Jennifer Weiner.
>It's even available as a digital download.
>Contact staff writer Sandy Bauers at 610-701-7635 or

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