audiobooksReading Diversely FAQ, Part 2 (Book Riot)
It’s no secret that diversity in reading is an important value at Book Riot. We write about it so often, in fact, that we’ve noticed that the same questions come up again and again from our readers in the comment sections of those posts…

Are Audiobooks Benefitting From the Current Podcast Boom? (Simon Owens)
Did you hear the news? Podcasts, once a niche product, are now “booming.” Due partially to the success of Serial, the This American Life spin-off podcast reinvestigating a 1999 murder in Baltimore, the medium has now made its way into the “cultural mainstream.”

The Dream of Used eBooks is Over (GoodeReader)
The dream of an used e-Book site may be over. A Dutch Court of Appeals has ruled that Tom Kabinet must shut down within three days or pay a daily fine of €1,000.

Die Another Eh: What Does It Mean Now That James Bond Is In The Public Domain In Canada? (Techdirt)
As of this year, James Bond is in the public domain in Canada. Since the term of copyright in Canada is the life of the author plus fifty years, and Ian Fleming died in 1964, the copyrights in all of his James Bond novels and short stories expired on January 1st.

Kindle Daily Deal: Sleep Tight (and others)


  1. The growing interest in audiobooks is hardly surprising. My own experience illustrates what’s happening.

    1. I started listening to them to double the benefit of daily walks. That’s nothing new.

    2. Since the pathway at Seattle’s Green Lake crosses no streets, at first I tried walking and reading. I didn’t mind the odd looks. But I did find that the book’s bouncing as I walked made reading really slow. Slow as under 100 wpm. Hardly worth the trouble.

    3. I got a Sony Walkman and began to listen to audiobooks on cassette tapes. The tapes themselves were a bit clumsy, requiring constant changing and flipping, but that worked well enough.

    4. Seattle’s public library where I was getting those audiobooks didn’t have many books on cassettes because they quickly become damaged. I got a CD player and tried listening to audiobooks that way. Bad move, CDs and their players are for music. If I stopped to talk with someone I lost my place. Forget CDs.

    5. I got an iPod mini and transferred audiobooks from CDs to it. Success! None of the hassles of cassettes or CDs, merely the hassle of moving the audiobook to that iPod. Alas, that took a lot of time when audiobooks came on a dozen CDs rather that one large mp4.

    6. Since then I’ve got through a string of Apple gadgets, but the listening remains the same. What’s changed is where I get audiobooks. I’m not the sort who cares to read books just because “everyone” is reading it. Along with podcasts of all sorts, classic tales in the public domain provide more that enough entertainment for me. My two sources are:

    a. The Classic Tales Podcast, which you can find via iTunes. Professionally read and excellent.

    b. Loyal Books, which repackages Librivox recordings into handier formats. The readers are volunteers, but most are quite good.

    My main hassle now it that the apps for listening to podcasts and audiobooks are almost all badly designed. Apple’s Podcast app is hideously clumsy and filled with invented jargon like “My Stations.” Hey, Apple, this isn’t a radio. Give things their real name and look at how we use the app. To play something I have to tap repeated times and the screens are ill-designed and obsessed with displaying the cover rather than useful controls. Why, for instance, can I just jump back and forward 15 seconds? Why not more choices? Why not a scrubbing scheme that doesn’t compress a 12-hour audiobook into a two-inch line.

    Third-party apps are just a bad if you’re not a hacker. Most assume users want to download direct to their mobile device and then spend about 100 hours coming up with some complex sorting mechanism to determine the play order. Hey, I’ve told them, I just want to play items in the whimsical order I’ve arranged them in an iTunes playlist. The developers have been understanding, but apparently doing that isn’t easy.

    Worst of all was some utter idiot(s) at Apple who decided that 1.5X and 2X speeds were good ideas. Did they ever listen to podcasts or books at 1.5X, much less 2X? 1.5X is OK for light material, meaning the silly chatter podcasts. 2X is utterly ridiculous for anything. What’s ideal is 1.25X. Almost anything an be listened to at that rate and it adds about 15 minutes of listening to each hour of time. But thus far, the only audiobook app I’ve found that can do that is Audible’s and it will only work with audiobooks I get from it. I’d be delighted to find a scheme to put my own audiobooks into Audibles app.

    There are other irritations. I’d love to go to sleep listening to modestly interesting audiobooks. They are just interesting enough to distract my mind without exciting it. But there’s a hitch. I fall asleep easily enough that way, but I wake up an hour or two later, the audiobook still playing away in my ears. Finding where I went to sleep is a real nuisance, especially given how clumsily the Podcast app scrubs through longer files.

    Apple does have a sleep timer, but it only works once. Apple apparently thinks we know precisely when we’ll fall asleep and can set that timer accordingly. No, if someone sets the timer for 5 minutes, the playing should stop every five minutes, resuming when we hit the headset button. Instead, we have to reset the sleep timer again (multiple taps looking at a lighted screen), which defeats the purpose of using listening to fall asleep.

    The short of all this is that the hardware for audiobook and podcast listening is now great. What’s falling short are ill-designed apps, not least of all those from Apple.


    I found it amusing that the article linked above thought Audible’s audiobooks were inexpensive. Except for special deals, and I’m on a mailing list to be informed about those, they’re not. That isn’t surprising. Audible has to pay for the equivalent-to-book rights plus a professional reader. That increases costs. If you like to read what “everybody” is reading, it’s fine. If you’d rather have inexpensive-to-free entertainment from talented writers of long ago, then there are better ways to go.

    And as an illustration of that, there’s The Railroad Children by Edith Nesbit, a children’s classic I just finished. She’s not only an extremely talented children’s writer, her tale sheds light into early twentieth-century England.

    1. Delightful. No helicopter parenting. The kids are free to roam at will, trusting to their own judgment to stay out of trouble. I could do that as a child. I feel so sorry for today’s kids and for their parents, literally arrested and charged for letting their kids play in their own front yard. We live in a stupid age, a really stupid one.

    2. Strong work ethic. All the people involved are willing to accept genuine help from friends, but reject anything smacking of “charity.” And what is charity? Being seen as a victim who’s so inadequate, they must be supported by others.

    That’s a telling difference between then, when people valued taking care of themselves, and today’s society, glutted with loud, whining demanding, self-appointed victims and spokesmen for such people. And unfortunately in the long run a public grown tired of listening to well-heeled grievance mongers such as Al Sharpton will also harden many people to those who’re genuinely in need.

    Listening to tales from the past is a good way to discover insights into the present. And doing so via audiobooks gives us more time to do that. I only wish the technology had come along sooner (i.e. when I was in college) and was improving faster.

    –Michael W. Perry

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