December 2008

Useful news feeds at

by Michael Alderete on 12/19/2008

If you are looking to stay “on top” of all the latest audiobook releases, there are a variety of sources. Most of the different audiobook publishing houses and audiobook stores have email newsletters, or even paper catalogs they will send you in the mail. I’ve signed up for a lot of these, and find them useful.

But the best source for audiobook releases news I’ve found are the RSS feeds offered by They have feeds for the latest releases, but they also have feeds for best sellers from various lists (NYTimes, etc.), best sellers in various categories, and feeds for specially priced titles, including free content. Audible’s feeds used to be awful, abbreviated entries that were almost useless. But at some point they got a whole lot better, and now tell you the book title, author, and give the full description for the book. They even link to an audio sample of the book, for you to listen to before you buy. Since Audible has the largest catalog of audiobooks, this is about as comprehensive a source as you can find.

Unfortunately, while I would like to link directly to Audible’s feeds page, their horrible web site makes it impossible to directly link to some pages, including that one. So I can only describe how to navigate there yourself.

  1. Start at the home page.
  2. Scroll down to the bottom of the page.
  3. Click the “RSS” link, which looks like this:

Audible RSS Link

Find a feed that appeals to you, and subscribe to it in your usual newsreader, e.g., Google Reader, NewsGator’s excellent readers, etc. (If you don’t know what a newsreader or RSS feed is, this What is RSS? article is a pretty good introduction.)

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iPod-friendly downloads from libraries

by Michael Alderete on 12/15/2008 · 19 comments

A couple of weeks ago, OverDrive, a technology vendor that provides many libraries with the software behind their download-to-loan content, released a new version of the OverDrive Media Console that is now Mac-compatible and iPod-friendly. It accomplishes this by providing loanable downloads in MP3 format, instead of a DRM-wrapped WMA (Windows Media) format.

It’s not clear to me how OverDrive protects the downloaded content, enforces lending period constraints, or otherwise restricts the use of audiobooks downloaded using their system. Some of the instructions and FAQs make it sound a little cumbersome, and generally content producers (the audiobook publishers) require pretty strong restrictions. So I’m a little hesitant to install the new software on my computer (I really need to get a test system…), fearing some hidden DRM kernel extension, or other invasive software.

It’s also not clear to me how much content is available to the new Media Console, at least in the MP3 format supported for Mac users. The older WMA format is much more broadly enabled, as it includes DRM restrictions that publishers are comfortable with. But you can search OverDrive’s national directory of libraries and see if content is available from a library or other source near you.

If you give it a try, let me know how it works for you. Otherwise, I’ll try to give it a whirl in the new year, and post an updated then.

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