Playaway - Preloaded Portable Digital Audiobooks
I've talked before about what a fan of Audible I am. Once you incorporate it in to your life by making it easy to listen in your car and you've got a nice rhythm for how many times you sync your iPod or MP3 player, it really enriches your life. I've even got my wife hooked on it. She walks three miles a day with the baby and has been listening to The Time Traveler's Wife (a fantastic book, highly recommended.)
I'm in Charlotte transferring planes to Dallas right now and just noticed a very clever digital device that I hadn't seen before. It's such a clever and totally obvious idea. Portable Audio Books with the audio pre-loaded on a "disposable" player.
They are called Playaway. Apparently they launched a year ago. They're attractively packaged and include everything you need. The book, pre-loaded batteries and headphones. The audio books are tiny, about the size of a micro-cassette with controls on the back for controlling the speed of the reader's voice, fast forwarding, etc.
Fantastic idea, brilliantly executed, save one thing. $39.95 for a book? Oy. I was a biscuit away from buying one, was drawn to the retail point of sale, picked it up, looked at the box, all the things one is supposed to do if the marketers got it right.
However, in this case, I turned the package over and blanched at $39.95. Some are even more. Yikes. If it were $19.95, sold, without even a thought. $24.95, maybe. $30, eh. $40? Hell no.
Back to audible again. For half the Playaway's cost per month I get two books. Sure I have to have an audio player, so I'm comparing apples to carburetors, but you get the idea. If a first class recent paperback is <$10, I expect a device like this to be under $25, IMHO. I'm sure the price will come down, but at this pricing it kind of squashed the whole impulse buy thing. Still a rockin' sweet idea though. Maybe I'll give some of these for Christmas to some of my Luddite relatives. :)
Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.
IMHO, disposable electronic devices is something that should be avoided. With that kind of usage, the likelyhood that it'll end in the trash instead of being properly elimiated are pretty high (thrown away at the hotel for instance). This contributes to environment degradation and resource shortage.
Why not return it to the manifacturer for a credit, so you can buy another one.... or get audiable to have a kiosk, so you can just download stuff onto an ipod, pay by CC, and walk :)
I don't see the benefit of audio books unless it's used for learning with concentration when one doesn't have the time to read.
When I read for pleasure, I like to actually hold the book, feel it and read words with my eyes. Audio books as a
replacement for pleasure reading doesn't make sense to me, specially when the book has illustrations, photos.. etc.
.. and yes.. enough with the disposable stuff.
But I can't believe that someone could really think of buying this!
Terrible enough that this is offered, but to promote producing more trash?!
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I think they could improve things with a deposit or trade-in model to cover their hardware costs. Return it and get $20 back, or trade it in for $25 off another book.
Realistically, though, I think this will soon be a solution looking for a problem soon. MP3 players keep getting cheaper, and pretty soon everyone's going to have one.