Playaway“Each Playaway comes with an audio book already loaded and ready to play,” says the Web site promoting the Playaway audio player from FindawayWorld. Supposedly the Playway portable needs “no cassettes, no CDs, no downloads.”

So will the company let listeners swap machines after they’ve heard everything? Or will customers have to pay for new machines to expand their libraries? I don’t know. I’ll query the company for more info, especially about costs to consumers. Maybe they’re low. I’ll keep an open mind.

What’s interesting is that some of the same concepts might be applied someday to e-books, whose users must wrestle with Draconian DRM and other horrors when downloading new content. A new e-book machine whenever you want a new collection of books? I hope not. It isn’t the most efficient approach. Far better for publishers to make DRM more consumer-friendly and not use it when they don’t need to.

Related: Library lends an ear with downloadable audio books, in the Seattle Times. “Right off the bat I ran into a couple of snags because the system isn’t compatible with Apple products — we’re a Mac household,” says reviewer Amy Arnold. Also, read about Jenny Levine’s hassles with DRMed online music and movie DVDs (via Maison Bisson).


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