TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: A Marriage of Bookshelf and Phone

A Marriage of Bookshelf and Phone

Monty Solomon (
Mon, 17 Oct 2005 01:53:56 -0400

by David Pogue

A GROWING number of states and countries have passed laws banning
cellphone use while driving. But if we're really going to be serious
about safety, we need laws against the even more distracting things
people do while they drive. Which brave lawmaker will propose the No
Fixing Hair, Fishing the Back Seat Floor for Baby Bottles or Arguing
About Politics While Driving Act?

At least there's one glimmer of good news: new audio-entertainment
sources like iPods and satellite radio are making AM radio less and
less of a distraction. No longer must you glance down to change the
channel the 600th time the same herbal supplement ad comes on.

Last week, though, commuters, exercisers and people sitting around for
jury duty gained an ingenious new audio alternative: books on phone.

Its actual name is Audible Air, and it's a way to download spoken
recordings from to the Palm Treo cellphone and other
wireless gadgets -- over the air, wherever you happen to be. But to
appreciate its significance, you must first understand how Audible
works. offers digital "books on tape" for the intellectually
inclined. Today, 600,000 people listen each month to Audible's spoken
recordings of over 7,000 books and 47 magazines and newspapers. Most
people these days listen to Audible recordings -- or "content," as the
company annoyingly calls them -- on portable players like iPods and
Palm organizers, after first downloading them to their computers. (In
fact, you get a free iPod Shuffle when you sign up for six months of
Audible service, or a free Creative MuVo with a one-year contract.)

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