The Future of Recorded Books?
One of my co-workers came back from the ALA Mid-Winter Conference with a small object in a VHS case. It appeared to be a copy of Jeanne Birdsall's The Penderwicks but... different somehow. Inside the box was a portable light-weight object with room for a single battery, headphones, and a string from which to hang the aforementioned object around one's neck.
At first we couldn't wrap our heads around what we were seeing. It's called a PlayAway and it's basically a self-sustaining audio book that plays entirely on its own. You plug in, turn on, and go. I kept assuming that it plugged into the Flash drive of one's computer, but this is not the case. It's an audio book you play in the palm of your hand.
Now it seems to me that aside from the question of who's going to be stuck with the job of replacing the batteries, this is a magnificently good idea. Think about it. Current audio books require special hardware at home. Either a tape player, a CD player, or a computer with a disc drive. The PlayAway needs none of these things. You check it out of your library and off you go.
Have any of you seen these in your own local branches? I wonder what problems might attach themselves to such a critter. Is this the future? If so I would like to suggest some method of recharging the PlayAways that doesn't involve batteries. That can lead to no good in the end, I suspect.