The Playaway Audio Player: Marketing Can’t Overcome Economics

Playaway PlayerSurely this is a product that only a marketing team could love: Playaway has introduced an audio book player preloaded with a single audio book that’s essentially a “play and dispose” device. This, by itself, isn’t necessarily a bad idea (other than environmentally) but there’s a whole facet to this product that is poorly thought out: its economics.
First off, fair disclosure: the company sent me one of these Playaway players with the audio book The Kite Runner (by Khaled Hosseini) doubtless hoping that I would be enamored of it and write lots of positive things about the Playaway here on my weblog. Ah, well, that’s not quite how it’s worked out…
There are some things I really like about the Playaway nonetheless, and lots of things to not like about this product. Let me preface this by observing that I have a lot of mp3 players, including five iPods, a Dell DJ, and many other devices that can also play mp3 audio files, like my trusty Sony PSP. I also have lots of headphones for testing, so I’m pretty sensitive to audio quality.


Good: It’s small and convenient
There’s no question, this is about the size of five credit cards stacked together and it’s very easy to slip into your pocket. The controls are also easily managed, with the “play” button serving as a play/pause/on/off switch, all at once. Easy!
There’s also no hassle with charging the device as it operates off a single AAA battery which is preloaded (and they include a spare, conveniently enough, along with cheap earbuds).
Good: It’s far easier than ripping audio books from CD
Having the audio content preloaded is darn convenient, as I said. If you’ve bought a six-CD audio book and gone through the hassle of ripping it to your computer then copying that content to your audio player, you’re well aware of what a pain this can be. With the Playaway, there’s nothing to do, it’s just ready to go.
Bad: The audio quality stinks
I admit, I have a sample of one audio book so perhaps the others are better, but I was pretty disappointed at how hollow the narrator’s voice was when I started The Kite Runner and having a slight echo didn’t help either. The Playaway FAQ says “Playaway audio is of equal or greater quality to digital downloads available today, due to proprietary audio processing, production and leading edge codecs” but my personal experience is that both my own audio rips and audio downloads from audible.com are of noticeably higher quality.
Bad: It’s too expensive
This is where I really don’t understand the business model behind the Playaway. To buy the 12 hour unabridged Playaway audio book of The Kite Runner runs $39.99 (undiscounted). The same 12 hour edition through Audible.com costs $19.58 for members and $27.95 for non-members. In paperback, I can buy the book for $8.00 at Amazon (new) and the audio through Amazon for $20.98 as a download, or the unabridged on CD for $26.37. Prefer the Apple iTunes Music Store? You can buy the unabridged audio of The Kite Runner there for $25.95.
I can get the same audio CD version for even less through eBay: typical completed auction prices are $10-$14, including shipping. For $30, would you go through the fuss of ripping a few CDs and copying the files onto your player? You know you would…
Good/Bad: It’s an mp3 player
Maybe the important difference is that it’s a self-container player. But once you’re done with the audio book, what do you do with it? Libraries aren’t set up to receive them as donations and the used market for Playaway devices is tiny (eBay only has three matches for Playaway, Dress Your Family and The da Vinci Code).
Listen to four or five of these Playaway audio books and you’ll not only have spent roughly a $20/audio book premium for the player (that’s a total of $80-$100 premium) but you’ll have a box full of used audio books just sitting on your shelf, with minimal resale value too.
Bad: Basic Mp3 Players Are Darn Cheap
Apple's iPod ShuffleHow cheap are Mp3 players nowadays? Surprisingly you can buy a reasonably functional one for well under $50. For example, Buy.com features the Mach Trio 512MB Mp3 Player with Voice Recorder for $39.31, and Amazon.com offers the Nextar 256MB Mp3 Player for $27.50. Add a little bit to your budget, and you can buy a slick new Apple iPod Shuffle that’s not much bigger than your thumb for $79.00.
They’re not a sexy new iPod nano, but neither is the Playaway player. More importantly, they’re one time purchases that can be reloaded time and again as you finish up one audio program and would like to move to the next while the Playaway just gets tossed into that box on your shelf.
Fixing the Problems
I wanted to like the Playaway as I always enjoy seeing companies innovate in the marketplace, pushing boundaries and taking advantage of cool things like the dramatic drop in the cost of Mp3 players. But truth be told, I just don’t like the device and don’t see that it’s going to be a success in the marketplace.
I think there are a few insurmountable barriers: first, the price of the audio books is too high. The company needs to give us an incentive to try this new technology: if The Kite Runner, including player, was only $19.99, then I might be more eager to check it out versus utilizing one of my ubiquitous Mp3 compatible devices (and, for that matter, how long do you think it’ll be before the Verizon V-Cast service offers audio book downloads to your phone anyway?)
The second way they could make these players far more appealing is to offer you the ability to reload them through some proprietary download encoding. Subsequent audio books could then be priced 50% less, or even lower, since you already have the player. Can you use it as a general purpose Mp3 player? No, that’s not their business. But can you gain an advantage by being willing to plug in a mini-USB and run some special software? You bet. And the big win: if you don’t want to fuss with that, then just go and buy another preloaded Playaway device. Now consumers have choice and the market penetration goes way up.
Or, my third suggestion: take a page from the Netflix playbook and offer trade in value. If I could send back The Kite Runner and receive a 33% credit on its original cost against a subsequent purchase, that could be the single easiest way to breath some life into this company…
With the Playaway priced and designed as it is today, however, I think this might be one of those “good idea, bad implementation” companies so you might just want to grab one up as a souvenir and reminder of the crushing logic of economics in the technological world.

28 comments on “The Playaway Audio Player: Marketing Can’t Overcome Economics

  1. hi Dave – Isn’t this player for people who want to have a small package for listening to an audio book (as opposed to hauling around multiple CDs and player) – AND who do not know (or care to know) how to rip and download to an MP3 player. Seems to me the number of people able and willing to manage an iPod etc. is still smaller than the number who aren’t or won’t.
    I somewhat agree with your assessment of the economics but there is a world out there that does not know or care what the price is on amazon to download the MP3 file. What they do care is that all they have to do is unwrap the thing, plug it in and go.
    I agree the price is too high but that’s in absolute terms. It needs to be down in the $20s to get into the upper impulse range, I think – like a hardbound book.
    I also agree that a tradein would be good, but it would have to be a paper coupon since they should be selling most of them thru B&N.
    With correct pricing and marketing (supermarket checkout!), it could be a big hit!

  2. Hey Dave,
    Good writeup, description and analysis. I’m with your conclusions all the way. The price is the big hangup. For a throwaway, it needs to be under $20: the market price of the content. I agree with Jeff that a target audience would be those that don’t want to manage the media. However, buying Audible.com thru the Apple iTunes store takes care of most of that issue. You buy it, it downloads, then it synchs to your iPod. The new $79 Shuffle is a perfect book or podcast companion.

  3. Hey Dave — did you see that sleazy startup PayPerPost just netted $3 million in venture funding?
    See: http://snipurl.com/xtma
    This is the venture where “Bloggers are getting paid ($2/post) to write about products without having to disclose that payment, which by any measure is deceptive. What’s more, advertisers can–and usually do–specify that those bloggers must write positive comments on the product.”
    Hmmm… you got a free device, a free audiobook, and the freedom to mention the bad as well as the good. I think you got the better deal than most PayPerPost bloggers — and you don’t have to worry about being “outed” for it.
    Now let’s see if people keep sending you free stuff — I think they will, since you have credibility.
    – Amy Gahran

  4. Hi Dave:
    As one of the founders and President of Findaway, the company behind Playaway, I just wanted to thank you for such a thorough and thoughtful review of our product.
    A couple of quick points.
    The price of PHYSICAL audiobook products, like the Kite Runner title you reviewed, rangle from $19.99 to $50+ – and, in fact, the Suggested Retail Pricing (SRP) of the Playaway version of Kite Runner you mentioned ($39.99) is almost exactly the same as the publisher’s SRP of the CDs alone ($39.95). Check Barnes & Noble’s website on that title, and you’ll see they start their pricing of the Kite Runner CD version at $39.95 (before discounts). The point is Playaway (at least in it’s first year or so in the market) competes most directly against the PHYSICAL CD alternative � a $800million marketplace. We will keep bringing the prices down – but the SRP pricing really is dictated in part by what pricing the publisher sets for the CD alternative.
    Second, we agree with you whole-heartedly about the ability to trade in used Playaways for discounts on your next one. In fact, that’s why as part of our Holiday roll-out this year we will be launching a Playaway RePlay Program that allows a consumer to return used Playaways (in good working condition) for discounts up to 50% off their next title. This program should be live on our website – http://www.playawaydigital.com – before Thanksgiving.
    Third, remember that one of the true points of differentiation of a Playaway is that it is a SIMPLE & IMMEDIATE listening experience. Using a Playaway requires virtually NO technical competency and no other player technology. We sell alot of Playaways in airports precisiely for this reason. And we have literally hundreds of libraries building Playaway collections because of its ease of use for traditional library patrons and staff alike.
    Listen, we know there is alot of work to do. But don’t lose faith in spunky start-ups with good ideas just yet. We promise to keep working at making Playaway simpler, better sounding and less expensive – for everybody. And keep your eyes open because our format isn’t just about audio books – think about curated museum experiences, walking tours, music collectibles at concerts, health care information for illerate patients, read-along narrators for kids w/ dyslexia, and lots of other applications for a low-cost pre-loaded SIMPLE & IMMEDIATE audio (& video) device.
    Again – thanks for the prodding and the ideas for improvement.
    Respectfully – Christopher Celeste

    • I just want to say I love the player ways I get them from my public library which I wish they could go a lot more of them but they work out perfect I can go to work I can listen to a book a night and it’s easy convenient I just needed up Triple A battery but I just want to say I love the player ways

  5. Guess this means I won’t be getting any freebies after you went and spoiled it for us! 🙂
    Seriously, the economics seem to be one of the biggest drawbacks. But I’m impressed that the company responded to your post, and positively at that!
    Good job to both of you…

  6. What a great piece. For Playaway you create awareness and the Netflix idea is great and good feedback for them.
    I listened to the Kite Runner via Audible for 10 dollars ? as an Introductory offer. A book I really enjoyed.

  7. I’m in the technology department at my local school district. When I wake in the morning I wipe “geek” from my eyes and when I breathe I exhale “geek” instead of carbondioxide. But I’m 50 years old and I’ve been that way for too long to worry about changing. On that note, here’s what I’ve learned about the “regular” people in the world:
    1. Many of them have trouble turning on a computer, let alone using them for anything as remotely challenging as ripping or burning audio.
    2. While there are 10s of millions of people out there with cell phones and mp3 players, there are even more people who don’t have them. The why behind that is they can’t figure out how to use them. After all, how many people to you here “brag” about the fact they can’t program their VCRs (and let’s not even talk about set-top DVD recorders).
    3. We may live in a world of digital technology but for the most part, we’re still analogue people. What is normal and matter-of-fact for you and I, is out of the ordinary for many, many millions of people in the world.
    I guess the point I’m trying to make is that the things I take for granted are based upon the paradigms (the generally accepted perspectives of a particular discipline at a given time) I’ve come to know from three decades of working with computers and forty-plus years with other electronic devices. Paradigms are the root of the “any-key” jokes and the need for a list of “conventions” at the beginning of trade publications.
    Our high school library has begun stocking Playaways as a part of the inventory. They are enjoying quite a bit of success. More than anything else, students check out the Playaway and the bound addition of the book and read-along. We’ve found it increases their understanding of the material and allows them to read the books more quickly than on their own.
    Lastly, our personal library (my family’s — we have five children) numbers more than a thousand volumes. When we finish a book, it doesn’t just go on the shelf. I read it, my wife reads it, and then any number of our kids read it. And a year or two later we’ll pick one up and read it again. After all, isn’t the sign of a good book that it’s worth reading more than once.
    I guess my point is that the Playaways are easy to use, small and portable, and they appeal to a market that is real-world. While there are those of us who would opt for other solutions, there are many others for whom this is a very good choice.

  8. I am new to the book writing world but not new to marketing. I recently wrote a book called YOU-NIQUE “The business Card� The Playaway a re truly You-Nique and fits perfectly for me to market to my audience. Unfortunately, most of my audience is very technologically hip, doesn�t have time to download or strip CD’s. They all want convenience. By the way, I purchased my playaway and it cost me well over $40.00. I agree, they are very expensive and don’t leave much room for profit. Are there any competitive products to look at as alternatives?
    Butch grimes

  9. As some of your other commentators have said there are many, many people who listen to audiobooks who do not own MP3 players and are not interested acquiring one. What they are doing is going to their public libraries and checking out Playaways. Our public library has been purchasing them since they became available and they are in constant circulation.

  10. Hi! As a school librarian, I had a chance to try out a couple of playaways being added by our local school library system. I even sent a few home from my library with the ultimate destructor patrons: 8-year old boys. I listened to Charlotte’s Web and Airborn by Kenneth Oppel. I thought the sound quality was fine.
    I’m not sure why you would say libraries aren’t set up to process these as donations–I suppose some libraries might choose not to, but I would just put it right on the shelf next to all the other audio books. My town’s public library has added dozens, and they’re always in circulation. Libraries seem to me to be the logical customers for playaways. There are no cassettes to tangle, CD’s to scratch, downloads to handle, and there are few parts to damage. One of my students broke the little headphones–no biggy, pretty cheap to replace–but that was the only damage done. And I teach in a rural community–believe me, there are plenty of families with no CD players, let alone mp3 players.
    When I buy audiobooks for myself, yes, I download to my iPod. But for my students, the playaways make sense. I’ll pay $27.00 for Charlotte’s web on CD, but only a few dollars more (34.99) for the book on a playaway.

  11. I am a school librarian in a rural community with approx 510 students in grades 7-12. I have about 25 Playaways in my collection with more on the way. The Playaways are extremely popular with all the students — there are usually just 4 or 5 on the shelf at any one time.
    I put a copy of the book with the Playaway so students can follow the text. These have been especially good for the struggling readers — they can now enjoy the same books their friends are reading and concentrate on what is happening in the story instead of spending their time trying to decode the text, and really not getting anything out of the story. After all, reading should be a pleasure, not a struggle.
    Yes, these are initially more expensive than audiobooks on CD or cassette but I don’t have to have extra equipment on hand to check out to a student so they can listen to the audio. In the long run, my only additional costs are extra batteries and extra earbuds. As another person pointed out, some of the Playaways are about the same price as the audio CD.
    Gail W.

  12. As with the last couple of bloggers, I am a middle school librarian and added Playaways to my collection last spring. They started off slow but most of that was probably because it was the end of the school year. This year they have been flying off the shelves. Many of our struggling readers have discovered them. In fact, today I showed them to two students who are struggling readers and one of them returned later in the day with another student and told them all about them. It was great to see one kid helping another. Research has shown that listening to a book while reading along increases fluency and will help them develop into better readers. The sound quality, in my experience, has been excellent and they are easy to use and seem to stand up to middle schoolers unlike CDs and tapes. I once had a cassette come back with a broken tape that had been tied back together! The price is more than a hardcover book but comparable in price to the CD version. Do I wish they were less expensive? Sure I do. But, for my school audience they are just what some kids need and many want. I’ve also discovered that they work with a jackbox and earphones so multiple kids can listen at once which often happens in classrooms. I would also like to have MP3 or iPod devices and download books onto them but unfortunately the vendors of digital books haven’t quite figured out how to sell their product to libraries who will then loan them to patrons. I have contacted Audible several times but just keep being told they are working on a policy for libraries. I have my own personal Audible account and love their products and wish there was a way to use the same type of product in my library. The recycling issue would make sense also and most libraries would probably be interested in that as well. Don’t discount Playaways yet. They definitely fill a void until the vendors policies can catch up with technology.

  13. Just have to say that the Playaways have been a HUGE hit in my elementary school library. These kids don’t have MP3 players and the Playaways are so easy for them to use.
    For the cost, I just hope they hold up for a long time, but we had terrible luck with CDs and tapes, they either get lost or scratched.
    Personally, I wouldn’t buy one-I download e-books from the public library to my ipod for free.

  14. Hi. as a teacher and Librarian who has many students who can not read or read well below grade level (think mainstreaming mentally retarded children into regular ed. classes), these work great. We are all treading water just to keep students afloat, feeding them breakfast, extra tutoring, dealing with family and problems in their homes, so time to download and rip CDs is nonexistant. Since we use these over and over with many children, the price is fine.

  15. I love books on audio, my children have been listening to audio books for years. The playaway makes sense for us because rather than listening to one book in the vehicle (on long trips) when there are different age groups involved, each child can listen to his own book tailored to his specific grade level. We have several libraries in the area and they all carry a good selection of playaways (without the earbuds, for good reason because that would be unsanitary). So…basically we checkout out the playaway, plug in our earbuds and we’re good to go.

  16. Interstate-located Cracker Barrel restaurants have a great thing going — for 3.49 you can rent an audio book for 7 days, then return it to the same or another Cracker Barrel.(There’s a $20 refundable deposit involved. The idea is clever as clever can be !

  17. great information on playaway , prices alittle high for the economic conditions of many people, we need a rental site for audio books or an honest exchage site to trade books , playaway should concider the economical changes takeing place in are country not over price audio books when we worry if we still havejobs ,or enough money to feed are children.

  18. Dear Dave:
    I’ve read all the comments to your original review of Playaways and wanted to mention another group it’s great for — the homebound elderly. For people who could NEVER master the logistics of downloading books (or even running a CD player to listen to books on CD), Playaways are perfect. You buy them mail order from a company like Blackstone Audio and when they arrive, you attach the earbuds and press PLAY. That’s it. (As you noted, even the batteries are already in the Playaway.) For elderly people who are isolated and homebound, Playaways open up the wonderful world of audiobooks. The controls are simple and easy to use, even for people with failing vision or those who get confused/frustrated easily because of cognitive problems. Borrowing Playaways from a local library is also a good option (as previous comments posted here prove!) but the homebound elderly can’t get out to return the Playaways to the library after listening to them. So, yes, buying Playaways IS expensive but I think they make delightful gifts that children and grandchildren can give on birthdays, at Christmas and on Mother’s Day/Father’s Day. For shut-ins, life can be very bleak and lonely … but a terrific audiobook (in ANY format the elderly person can master — I’m just partial to Playaways) brightens life a great deal. I just hope Netflix is listening and starts renting Playaways soon, just like they offer movies on DVD. I think that’s when you’ll see Playaways take off like crazy.

  19. Playaway in public libraries
    Initially, I was really pleased with this idea. I listen to audio CDs on my MP3 player and it was great not having to bother to record them onto my player. or to wrestle with the annoyance of scratched CDs just as the plot got good.
    The user has to provide a AAA battery but the unit is very economical and even the cheapest battery lasts ages. Our local £1 shop sells a big pack for £1 and they run absolutely fine on this unit.
    The controls are simple and the play button is a different shape from the stop button, allowing me to feel it rather than having to see.
    BUT
    On one of the books I borrowed, the battery holder seemed faulty and the unit would just stop making it necessary to carry a battery tester to see if had switched off because the battery had run out or because the battery had unseated itself. The seating is pretty flimsy so I can see that this will happen a lot.
    The unit is difficult to switch off if you are partially sighted or using it in dim light (or sunlight). You have to press the Off switch for 3 seconds. EXACTLY 3! – if you press it for more than 3, it switches on again on pause, unknown to you, unless you press the play button to check, and remains on, until your battery runs out.
    The books are put on in chapters rather than being divided into 5 minutes slots as CDs are so if you need to refind your place you have a lot of steady holding of the fast forward or rewind button to get back to your place. If your hand twitches, you will find yourself at the end/start of the chapter and have to repeat the process again.
    The unit has certain abilities which are totally unnecessary. One speeds up the reading speed. (The novelty of hearing Silas Marner in Smurf mode palls very quickly).
    Another lets you repeat the chapter over and over again (You could do this just as well using the forward or back buttons) Yeah, great for anyone with severe memory loss but otherwise….
    The most disastrous is the ability to Shuffle. Imagine a shuffled audio book! I was really concerned that I might accidentally press this one and think I was listening to something by James Joyce!
    Another important feature it lacks, is the ability to switch off if you accidentally put it on pause or have reached the end of the book or don’t switch off correctly (see above). Most MP3s do this far too quickly but switching off after 3 minutes when the unit isn’t playing would be invaluable.
    I like to listen to books as I fall asleep and that is where this unit most fails. I may only listen to 20minutes of book before I fall asleep but the unit carries on right to the end of the book (or until yet another battery runs out). And if the battery runs out, the unit does not keep the place where this happens so you have to start searching all through the book. Even with the cheapest batteries, it still cost me
    The now redundant Smurf voice and Shuffle options should be replaced with the option to have the unit pause and switch off after 3 minutes when it reaches the end of a chapter.
    The chapter should be divided into 5 minute slots for easy seeking so that you can just press the fast forward button and only need to hold it down to get to the right part of the 5 minute slot. See, no more controls needed, just better thought-out ones.
    From the book-sellers point of view, the draw back to self-destruct mp3 files is that the user could share them during those 3 weeks with other listeners but if this could be somehow got around, that would be a real winner. A possible would be that the mp3 is accompanied by a file that reads the mp3 player in some way. It would certainly keep library costs down and users could even access the books from an online Catalogue and pay their £1 by PayPal.

  20. Hi Dave
    Thanks for your review of playaways – I just heard about them yesterday when I spoke with our local town librarian about audiobooks.
    She was quite enthusiastic about playaways, but with the exchange rate, taxes, etc, the price here in New Zealand is approx $100, which is ridiculous for an individual, and only viable for a library or larger organisation.
    In comparison, many audiobooks retail for $8-$20, and only take a few minutes to put onto an mp3 player or even to burn a CD for the car.
    If there was a gadget the library could use to simply add a requested title to a player, while overwriting the previous title, then I imagine we’d all be happier with the playaway concept.
    I see several people have commented to the effect that not everyone is technically able to download stuff, deal with files, etc, but that is where it is very easy to ask most anyone under 12 -15 to help. Many have done this hundreds of times, so it really is child’s play for them.
    The school library or a night class could teach this, or even run a free service – staffed by 10-year olds – to do it for those unable or unwilling to do it themselves.
    Thanks for the opportunity to comment 🙂
    Blessings from New Zealand

  21. Thanks for the helpful review. I listen to a lot of CD audiobooks from the library and checked out the review because I hope that my library doesn’t completely switch to playaways. I suspect a lot of library users are ripping audiobooks to their itunes libraries. If libraries switch to playaways, fewer patrons will listen to the same book because users will check-out audiobooks for a longer time, which effectively decreases the utility of the audiobook and could make the playaway books much more expensive even if the sticker price is the same. From the comments above, it seems many librarians are sold on the playaway format so I hope they will also consider the reduction in turnover.
    I expect that playaway pays a lower license fee than other audiobook distributors because of the tight control over copying. If not, they are missing an opportunity to bring their price down while maintaining profit margins.
    I would find a netflix-type subscription to be very interesting but I think there are already many audiobook subscription service options. I was also interested in the Cracker Barrel approach which should also benefit Cracker Barrel by bringing in restaurant customers.

  22. I only recently discovered the playaways and I’m thrilled. I spend 8-10 hours at the pc writing, editing, translating and the last thing I want to do in my free time is to read, which I loved to do before. With the playaway I’ve read a book that had been sitting on my shelf for a year and I knew I wanted to read, but without the desire to use my eyes more than I had all day. The playaway makes it fun. I’ve read a 17 hr book in a week, while, shopping, cooking, cleaning, gardening. I love it!
    I’m ready to start catching up with all the other ones I had missed. The library now has a good reason for me to visit.

  23. Dave, Thanks for the information on the Playaway audio player. I was considering purchasing one but thanks to your blog I will just stick to buying a regular iPod shuffle Mp3 player. I appreciate your review!

  24. Our family has been listening to the Jenny Nemmo books of Charlie Bone. I check the CDs out of the Library, listen to them on trips and return them. I found out that the last Charlie Bone book was only available on the Playaway format. Some research led me to your blog.
    Your post reflected my sentiment about this product. The last Charlie Bone book is $65, compared to $23 at Amazon for the 6 CD set. Then I started reading other peoples comments, especially librarians and teacher and I can understand their point of view.
    A few questions arise. if you are a person that is not so technically savvy, where can you buy that product from but the internet, and wouldn’t you be likely to listen to CDs in your car or home as opposed to trying to figure out a Playaway.
    It’s rather said the penalty one has to pay for not having learned the technology.
    Here is my solution. Have Apple develop an MP3 player that operates on a AAA battery, and make room in the player for a spare. I am pretty sure such a gadget can be had for under $100.
    Develop a check out system that would allow the library patron to hook up that MP3 and download a couple of books onto it at a time.
    This way, the libraries don’t have to deal with scratched CD, Or pay the high prices for the Playaway device. Like you said in your article, for the price of four or five books, I can buy a descent MP3 player and get the books from apple or Audible or amazon for less than half the price. In the long run, the libraries would save a lot of money, the patrons would have a descent MP3 player to listen with.
    To put it bluntly, It costs money to be stupid and lazy.
    Khaled Alkotob

  25. I see this player being more successful with a NETFLIX type business model, where you pay $10 a month and you send/receive unlimited audiobooks on Playaway devices. So you receive one and since it only weighs 2 ounces, it would be inexpensive to ship. So once you’ve finished listening, you send the device back and they send you the next one on your list.

  26. I just discovered these today at my library. I LOVE this idea. I don’t have enough use for an ipod, mp3, etc. I usually listen to audio books coming and going to work, and I don’t buy physical books or online books. I am a library person. I love this idea because I can take it anywhere, anytime due to the small size. I wish I could listen while at work, but I am on the phone too much. I hope the library gets more of these! I plan to tell my mom to watch for them at her library.

  27. One of the problems our local library have is theft of the unit leaving the empty case on the racks. This was and still is net a problem with cd’s

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