A bookmark for the iPod

Books on tape turn to books on iPod, and listeners must learn to find their places accordingly.

Published July 28, 2008 5:30PM (EDT)

I started and signed off my stint as Machinist guest blogger last week with stories about books, and didn’t intend to begin this week on the same subject, but here I go again. (I swear I'm not trying to secretly appeal to Salon as prospective book-beat reporter.)

In his story in Monday's New York Times, Andrew Adam Newman reports on the death of cassette audiobooks at book publisher Hachette, whose author lineup includes big names like James Patterson, Robert Ludlum and Nicholas Sparks.

Unlike the relatively quicker leap music and movies made from tape to shiny disc, audiobooks have been slower to go for one very good reason: They're as easy as opening to a dog-eared page to pick up where you last left off.

Skipping forward and backward by chapter is possible on all CD-based audiobooks; however, only CDs that bear the "Audiobook Compatible" logo offer the ability to resume the story where you left off when the player was turned off.

Which brings up a helpful tip for iPod and iTunes audiobook listeners: "Remember playback position." To turn it on, select the desired track, choose Get Info from the File menu, click the Options tab, and check the box next to "Remember playback position." This also works for a selected album, artist or entire library (choose Get Info and select "Yes" for the "Remember Position" option.

I used to listen to audiobooks during my hourlong commute to and from San Francisco and Apple headquarters in California, more than 20 years ago, but haven't streamed prose to my ears since then.

What about you? Are you an avid books-on-tape listener? Books on CD? iPod or other MP3 player? If so, I'd like to hear about your experience as well as tips and tricks that may benefit others.

By Joe Hutsko

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