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Listening to more than music… Audio Books

 

Previously I carried a Palm TX (a TH from Sony before that…) which I enjoyed using to listen to Audio books. I would load up the memory cards so I could play while flying or during slow parts of the day. At the time, it was almost exclusively Audible.com providing the content. 

Audio Books should be thought of as the reading of text. Many people enjoy listening to a book rather than hauling the paper version around. Audio versions of books do lock in a amount of time to get through a book compared to print which you can skim when looking for particular parts of interest. Screens on the Palms and iPhone / Touch make it less than optimal for reading digital print versions of books so Audio just naturally fit the device’s strengths.

Depending on the provider, the audio files can be in just about any file format, the most popular being MP3. The iTunes store usually distributes MP4 since they know you will be listening on some sort of iPod device. 

Currently, you have several options, including buying directly through the iTunes store. Some providers use digital locks so the files can only be played on your device, others are completely open (which are usually books that have fallen out of their copywrite). The Digital lock system from Audible doesn’t seem to have come along with the advancing technology in iTunes and iPods – it has been giving me increasing levels of pain with unlocks not staying registered resulting in the files either not loading or not playing on my iPhone. For now I wont be recommending Aubible.com.

Installing is either automated by the company your buying your Audiobook from by your purchase being inserted into iTunes ready for your next sync. Or, if you have a downloaded file (mp3 or other), just drag the file onto your iTunes logo and release – iTunes will import and prep for install from there. The default setting in iTunes is to make a copy of your file into it’s storage area so you do not have to worry about moving the original off of your computer.

It is possible to create your own “Audiobooks”. Using any text on your computer and a variety of free and for pay applications. I copy text off of Web sites that are long and I don’t have time to read then. Create a audio file and then insert that into my iPhone to listen to on my drive to the office.

One of the best known professional application to move text into a Audio files is Cepstral

This application has a large variety of higher quality voices available so you can choose which one is best for your listening pleasure. Cepstral charges $30 for their application and one voice.

Two Free options I have played with are:

Easyspeak   

TextReader

Both offer a easy to use tool to take any text and convert it to a variety of Audio files types.

After installing your Audiobooks into your iPhone / Touch through iTunes sync – you can find them via the iPod icon. Choose ‘More’ then ‘Audiobooks’

Here is a quick list of my most recent Audio Books from iTunes. 

Stumbling On Happiness (Unabridged)

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (Unabridged)

Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham (Unabridged)

 

I enjoyed ‘hearing’ Stumbling On Happiness more than when I read the book… the author does a nice job of speaking to the listener.

Getting Things Done… I bought this so I could hear key points over and over again as I try to pull out which parts really work for my life style and which parts of only great in concept.

And… Green Eggs and Ham… I’m guilty of trying to find something to entertain my in-law’s little kids over the holidays that didn’t involve me taking one for the team. Ha! 

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