Road trips are tedious propositions for this Vidiots and others like me. Unless it’s dark outside, it’s very difficult to make out what’s happening on a video screen. And if you’re driving, it’s illegal to watch something other than the road. So unless you’re lucky enough to be in the passenger or back seat between sundown and sunup, you’d better make alternate arrangements.their Web site has become one of my favorite stops before a long trek across Idaho’s highways. But not for paperbacks. Recently, I discovered that the Boise Public Library offers downloadable audio books … for free.
The list of available titles the Boise Library maintains isn’t long, but is perfectly adequate for quasi-bibliophiles and folks who only watch TV alike. There are fiction and nonfiction selections; long, multi-volume tomes; biographies; and many child- and teen-friendly titles that entire families can listen to together.
While many of the files are only playable from the computer they’re downloaded to, gobs can also be burned to CD or transferred to a favorite iPod or MP3 player. You can search by file type. The cool part is that since you’re doing it all online, you don’t have to actually go anywhere; you can download the books from the comfort of your own home. The return process isn’t quite as seamless as Netflix’s, though: The library allows you two weeks per title and when the lending period is up, the files simply cease working (through some kind of backend file coding) and your “books” have been “returned.”
If you’re one of the film-crazed (like yours truly), you can even catch up on books later turned into motion pictures. I unearthed three Steven King stories that were made into movies—The Shawshank Redemption, Stand By Me, Apt Pupil—and Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, both of which are 2010 blockbuster films.
Far be it for me to sell short the importance of actually reading (if you can believe it, I found time to read two whole books during the last month), but if you’re stuck in a car—or some other video-inhospitable environment—don’t underestimate the entertainment value of an audio book.
It’s sort of like reading, it’s sort of like listening to a movie and, unless you pick the worst title ever, it should be at least marginally more fun than staring out the window.