Playaways? Here? What are they and why should you care? Put simply, Playaways are a relatively new form of the old audiobook, but they’re aren’t CDs, nor are they cassettes. And no, there is no downloading involved. The unit (pictured at the right) is a small recorder containing either in whole or in part (some texts are abridged) a new or classical text of book. What makes Playaways popular is their versatility. In addition to the usual functions of a recording device, they are also iPod compatible and very small and compact. Coming in at slightly larger than a credit card, Playaways fit conveniently into your shirt or hip pocket, are compatible with standard earbuds (though they come with their own) and can go wherever you want to go, with the possible exception of the shower (though one might wish to attempt a bath with lighted candles, Bach playing in the background and –well, you get the picture).
The title selection is fairly extensive, and more titles are being added daily. To date, Dacus has added only six as a pilot to see if you, the users, like them. We have the following available for checkout now: Sara Gruen’s novel, Ape House, Tony Blair’s controversial memoir, A Journey: My Political Life; the late Steig Larsson’s The Girl Who Played with Fire; Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog; Rhoda Janzen’s Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home; Paul Greenberg’s Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food; the ever provocative Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains; and, Voices of Black America, recordings made between 1908 and 1947 of speeches, writings and more of Langston Hughes, Booker T. Washington, Paul Laurence and others.
If you’re looking for something that can go when you go, pause when you pause, and resume when you’re ready, then Playaways may be just the thing you’re looking for. Whether you’re running on a treadmill, taking a trip over the holidays, or just wanting to unwind before going to bed, Playaways provide a delightful way for you to explore yet another way of “reading.” Like most new technologies–and this particular format is new–Playaways aren’t exactly cheap. We bought a few to test them out. But if you like them and want us to explore more of these for purchase, just let someone in the library know. At first blush, putting one book per unit is not an economical way to go; but audiobooks have posed a problem for libraries–as do e-readers– if they contain many texts in one unit. Once that unit is checked out, so are all the titles. Instead, these audiobooks have only one title, so keeping it out as long as you need it isn’t the problem it would be if multiple texts were contained on each one. Titles do vary in price, with the most recent titles costing the most, and the more “classical” texts costing only a fraction as much as their “just released” brethren.
So drop by and check out a Playaway and, well, play away.