unnecessary headphones

Over the course of this pandemic, I’ve tried hard to be mindful about not going overboard with random internet shopping. And I think I’ve done OK. In terms of major purchases, over the last year, I’ve bought a new laptop (replacing one that was ten years old) and a new Apple Watch 6 (replacing a Watch 3). I’ve signed up for Disney+, Hulu, and Apple Music. I’ve bought a handful of Blu-rays that I didn’t really need. But that’s about it.

All of which is preamble to admitting that I saw that Woot had the Beats Solo Pro headphones on sale for 50% off last week, so I went ahead and bought a pair. I can’t really make a great case for buying these, even at half-price, honestly. Since I’m stuck at home most of the time, I’ve been doing fine with my AirPods. But I’ve had the thought in my head for a while that I should pick up some noise-cancelling headphones. The idea was that they’d replace the old UrbanEars headphones that I keep in my backpack, and which are now in pretty bad shape. My main use case for them would have been on train rides into NYC and on airplanes, neither or which is going to happen any time soon. (Every time I think it might be safe to start visiting NYC again, there’s some bad news, like the new variants that are going around right now.)

So, anyway, I now have a new pair of headphones that I don’t really need. But it’s been fun playing with them. I’ve never tried noise-cancelling headphones before, so that’s been interesting. I’ve read up on what noise cancellation can and can’t do, so my expectations weren’t unrealistic. One day earlier this week, there was a lot of noise outside, as the town was working on removing some snow. I put the headphones on, and they completely removed the sound of the snow removal equipment, except for the back-up beeper. So that was cool. I’ve also found that they can remove the sound of my humidifier and my air cleaner entirely. The humidifier is pretty quiet, so that’s not a big deal, but the air cleaner is a bit noisy.

Having read some reviews of the Beats Solo Pro, I’d say that they pretty much correspond to what I expected of them. (Here’s a review from iMore, one from The Verge, and one from MKBHD, who doesn’t usually like Beats.) The sound is good, but not amazing. They’re a little uncomfortable, but not unbearably so. I’m not sure if I could wear them for an extended period. I’ve heard that they loosen up a bit after you’ve been using them for a while, so maybe that’ll help.

The H1 chip is probably the best reason to choose these over other wireless noise-cancelling headphones. (It’s the same chip that is in the AirPods.) They pair seamlessly with my iPhone and Apple TV (and probably with my iPad and Mac, though I haven’t bothered trying yet).

Overall, I don’t think I’m going to get a ton of use out of them while I’m still in pandemic mode. For most of the use cases where I’m currently using my AirPods, I’ll likely keep using them. The AirPods are fine for podcasts and audiobooks. And they’re probably better for wearing outside, when I’m on a long walk, than the Beats would be. For listening to music, I generally use my Sonos speakers or regular stereo system (if I’m in the living room) or the speakers on my desktop PC (if I’m in my bedroom working). There are a few cases where I might want to listen to music with the Beats rather than over my speakers or with the AirPods. But the tradeoffs (comfort and convenience, mostly) will probably keep me using the AirPods and/or my various speakers most of the time.

So, yeah, I didn’t need these headphones. But for half-price, I don’t see them as a bad purchasing decision. I’ll get enough use out of them, I think, before the battery goes bad and/or they fall apart.

more fun with audiobooks, on Presidents Day

Today is Presidents Day, and I have the day off from work. In a normal year, I’d maybe take this opportunity to go into New York and visit some museums, or maybe just go out and see a movie, but this year, between the pandemic and the coming ice storm, I think I’ll just be staying home and doing largely pointless nonsense. (I could maybe look at this Times article, and do something meaningful that ties in to the holiday, but.. nope.)

Pointless activity number one for today has been “messing around with audiobooks”, so this post is going to be a follow-up to my last fun with audiobooks post. Since that post, I’ve finished Charlotte’s Web, borrowed from my local library via OverDrive. And I’ve started The Witch Who Came In From The Cold, via Serial Box.

From an iOS app perspective, I’m realizing that I need to use multiple apps now, depending on where my audiobooks are coming from. Books bought from Apple, and DRM-free books that I’ve dragged into Books on my Mac, can be listened to via the Books app on my phone (or with Undulib or something similar). Audible books need to be listened to via the Audible app. Library books can be listened to with OverDrive or Libby. And Serial Box books probably need to be listened to via the Serial Box app.

I have figured out, though, that it’s possible to save OverDrive audiobooks (if they’re in MP3 format) to my local PC (via the OverDrive Windows app). And it’s probably still possible to export Audible books via OpenAudible or AudibleSync. And I’m pretty sure that it used to be possible to download MP3 files for Serial Box titles, but they seem to have discontinued that and locked it down, so you’re stuck with their app now.

I’ve also been messing around with utilities to combine MP3 files into consolidated audiobook files. I’d been looking at Join Together and Audiobook Builder. Those are both $5 apps available for the Mac. I wound up buying Audiobook Builder, though Join Together would probably have also worked well. I don’t really need to create consolidated audiobook files, but it does allow me to clean things up a bit, specifically for audiobooks that I’ve ripped from CD. I’ve run a few books through Audiobook Builder, and it seems to work fine. I’ve pulled in MP3 files and output M4B files, and the output always comes out smaller than the input, and seems to work fine in Books (on Mac/iPhone) and iTunes (on Windows). I can edit the metadata for the combined file, and for the chapter titles.

Since paying for Audiobook Builder, I noticed Audiobook Binder, which is quite similar, but free, and open source. I probably should have tried that first. The visual similarity between the two programs is kind of suspicious. If Audiobook Builder didn’t have a fairly long history, I’d think it might just be a fork of Audiobook Binder that somebody tweaked a bit, then tossed up in the Mac App Store. But it’s been around since 2006, so that’s unlikely.

It would actually be more convenient for me to have a program like this on my PC, but there doesn’t seem to be much available for Windows. I found something called AAC Audiobook Creator, which might work, but it hasn’t been updated since 2011. So I guess I’ll stick with Audiobook Builder for now, since I’ve paid for it and it works well enough.

Getting back to iOS apps, I haven’t really had any issues with the multiple apps I’m using now, though it would be nice to just have one great one. The Apple Books app works well enough, for both books bought from Apple and DRM-free books synced from my Mac. The OverDrive app works fine for library books. (I’ve also installed Libby, and took a quick look at it, but I don’t think it’s any better than OverDrive.) As I mentioned last time, I think the Audible app is working for me now, though I haven’t actually tried to use it to listen to anything lately. And the Serial Box app is a little clunky, but good enough. All of these apps have the basic controls available, plus multiple speeds (if you’re interested in that) and sleep timers.

Having content spread across multiple apps and providers does make things harder to keep track of, but that’s what Evernote and Goodreads are for. And speaking of content, I’ve got plenty to keep me busy. The current Serial Box book I’m listening to, The Witch Who Came In From The Cold: Season One, is pretty good. I’ve previously listened to the first season of Bookburners, and enjoyed that one too. I thought I’d written a blog post mentioning it, but I can’t find it. I did write a relatively long review on Goodreads, though. I got the first seasons of four different Serial Box serials as part of a Humble bundle back in 2018. Serial Box is a pretty interesting publisher. They publish stuff as serials, in both audio and text format, and use a “season” format similar to the way a TV show would be produced. The “seasons” have individual “episodes.” There’s generally a group of writers working on a season, with individual episodes written by individual writers, but sticking to a consistent voice and style. It works pretty well, for the two serials I’ve tried so far. When they started out, they were doing original stuff, but now they’re also doing serials featuring licensed characters from Marvel, like Black Panther. And they have a subscription service now too, which gets you access to a library of more traditional audiobooks in addition to their own stuff.

Once I’m finished with the serial I’m listening to now, I’m not sure what I’ll listen to next. I’ve got a lot of options. Maybe some of the Neil Gaiman stuff that I haven’t listened to yet. Or maybe I’ll get back to the Big Finish Doctor Who audio dramas.


fun with audiobooks

I have a long history of complaining about audiobook-related issues on this blog. The most recent entry in the saga is here, from November of last year. I’ve been playing around with some audiobook stuff again recently, so I thought I’d write another post.

First, let me say that my issue with the Audible iOS app seems to have resolved itself. The issue started back in June, and was still an issue in November. The app would always crash after about 30 seconds or so. I tried every combination of deleting, reinstalling, rebooting, etc., that I could think of. I guess Audible eventually fixed the issue, or it went away on its own, or something. Either way, I’m pretty sure I could listen to an Audible book now, if I wanted to.

I’ve also been messing around with my library of audiobooks in Apple’s Books app. I mentioned the annoying limitations of the macOS Books app in that November post. Those all still exist. But I spent some time recently cleaning out some old audiobooks that didn’t need to be in the library, and moving some into folders in OneDrive for safekeeping. So now I feel a little better about that.

While looking through the handful of audiobooks that I’d bought from Apple over the years, I discovered that at least one of them was no longer downloadable from them. I still have a copy of it, and it still plays, but if I delete it, I think it’ll be gone forever. So I backed that one up. (Not that I’m ever going to listen to it again. It was a nice mystery novel, but nothing special.) Several of the oldest audiobooks that I have from Apple don’t seem to be available anymore, at least in the same version that I originally bought. They do still show in my purchase history, and seem to be re-downloadable though. These go back to the early days of Apple’s audiobook store, when they were really only reselling stuff from Audible. (I guess that, technically, they’re still reselling a lot of stuff that’s provided by Audible, but they’re not just doing that.)

And I’ve still got a lot of DRM-free audiobooks and audiodramas in my “waiting to read” pile. The next time I want to read one, I might try out Bound, or something similar. Or I might try to create a consolidated audiobook file with something like Join Together or Audiobook Builder, so maybe I can get a cleaner listening experience in Apple’s Books app.

Right now, I’m listening to an abridged version of A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson. I’m pretty sure I’ve listened to it already, but it would have been back before I started assiduously logging everything I read (or listen to). Anyway, I’ve forgotten it all, so it’s good to get a refresher. And listening to Bill Bryson calmly talk about science is a nice way to wind down at the end of the day.

Speaking of which, I’ve gotten back into the habit of listening to a bit of an audiobook near the end of the day, on most days. If I’ve got the right book, I think it helps me wind down a bit. Prior to the Bryson book, I was finishing up a BBC adaptation of War and Peace. That was also pretty good for winding down. I’ve got at least one Harry Potter book in audio form. And I’ve got The Hobbit, and some version of Lord of the Rings around here somewhere. And a few Neil Gaiman books. So I should be OK for end-of-the-day listening for the foreseeable future.

audiobooks, comics, and iOS apps

It looks like we’re right in the middle of our second wave here in NJ. There are a few bright spots, but I think, overall, it’ll get worse before it gets better. So… happy Thanksgiving, I guess?

I spent my Thanksgiving alone in my apartment, but I probably would have done that this year, even if we weren’t in the middle of a pandemic. I also spent Black Friday alone in my apartment, and will likely be spending today and tomorrow home alone too. If the pandemic was over, I’d probably have gone into NYC at some point this weekend, but that’s out of the question now. So I’m definitely feeling a bit of cabin fever. But I’ll get through it.

I managed to get the Audible app on my iPhone working, somehow. After last week’s trouble, I’d pretty much given up on it, but I decided to take another shot. I don’t really know what I did to get it to work, but, well, it’s working now. Though I should say that I haven’t actually tried to listen to anything yet, so I don’t really know if that’ll work. But at least I can launch the app and poke around in it without having it crash.

And I still haven’t decided what I want to listen to next. I started listening to a BBC adaptation of War and Peace some time ago, and I should probably get back to that and finish it, but I haven’t been in the mood for anything like that. I should probably listen to one of the Big Finish Doctor Who audio dramas instead. (Neither of those requires Audible, though, and I’d like to find out if the Audible app is really fixed or not, so I may try something from my Audible library instead.)

Meanwhile, on my iPad, I wanted to read a comic last night and tried to launch Comic Zeal, which is the iOS app i use for reading DRM-free comics. It crashed as soon as I opened it, and I couldn’t find any way to get it to work. I didn’t want to delete and reinstall it, since that would also remove the 4 GB worth of comics that I had loaded in to it. Comic Zeal hasn’t been updated in about four years, so I’ve been expecting that it would eventually stop working. I assumed that iOS 14 had finally killed it. But, then, after deleting it and reinstalling it, it does seem to work again. Of course, that killed all the comics I had in there, so I decided that maybe I should just try another app.

I’d picked up iComics at some point, when it was on sale or something, maybe last year, but hadn’t tried it out at all. I looked at the app store, and I saw that it was updated to work with iOS 14 a couple of months ago, so that seemed like a good bet. So I’m going to try to switch over to that. Dealing with situations like this always reminds me of how annoyed I am about the file system on iOS. On a normal computer, I would have been able to just drag and drop the files from Comic Zeal over to iComics. But, with iOS, if you can’t launch an app, then there’s really no way to get to that app’s files. So I had to go through the work of figuring out where the CBZ files were for the comics I wanted to load, pull them down from OneDrive to my Mac, then copy them over to the iPad. That took quite a while.

One nice thing about iComics over Comic Zeal is that it exposes its files via the Files app, so I think that means that I could access them even if I couldn’t launch the app. I’ve played around with iComics a bit now, and I think it’s good enough for me, but it definitely doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that Comic Zeal had. It’s a shame that the developer on that one seems to have given up on it.

I see that the developer for iComics started working on a new version in January of this year. But, of course the pandemic (and other stuff) got in the way, per this blog post from mid-year. He just posted a personal update a few days ago, coincidentally. He’s only written three blog posts this year, but they’re pretty lengthy and interesting. I, on the other hand, have written 93 posts so far this year, according to my stats. And most of them are probably dumb and boring. But that’s OK.

So, anyway, I guess I’ve got my audiobook and comic book situations figured out for now, so if I’m in the mood to listen/read this weekend, I’ll actually be able to do that. I have no clue what I really want to do for the rest of the weekend, though. I was pretty restless yesterday, for a while, and couldn’t decide what to do with myself, and started to get a bit annoyed with myself. Then, I didn’t sleep well last night. I guess I’ll get something for lunch soon. After that, maybe I’ll try to settle down and read something. Or take a walk. Or a nap. I guess it’s good that I have options.

audiobook management madness

Since I recently finished listening to Invisible Man, I thought I’d look into starting a new audiobook. I blogged about my issues with Invisible Man here. In a nutshell: it’s an Audible book, but I couldn’t get the Audible iOS app to work. I wound up listening to it through the Kindle iOS app, which was workable, but not great.

I have a pretty random collection of audiobooks. Some are from Audible, some are from Apple, and some are DRM-free books that I’ve gotten from Humble Bundles, or ripped from CD, or whatever. In trying to organize things a bit today, I wound up stumbling across a number of different issues, so I thought I’d write up some notes.

I started out by trying to get a handle on which audiobooks I have, which I’ve already read, and where they are. I have some notes about that in Evernote, but they were a little out of date. So I pulled up the Books app on my Mac to see what was in there.

I already vaguely knew that, in Catalina, books and audiobooks had been moved out of iTunes (obviously, since iTunes is no more), and into Books, but I guess I hadn’t looked at it too closely and realized how clunky that was and how much functionality has gone missing. First of all, the books are now stored in “~/Library/Containers/com.apple.BKAgentService/Data/Documents/iBooks/Books”. And there’s no right-click “Show in Finder” option like there used to be in iTunes. So finding the actual book files isn’t easy. And the folder doesn’t retain user-friendly names for the books; it just uses numbered folders. So that’s all a bit annoying. And, beyond that, there’s no ability to edit metadata for your books in the Books app the way there was in iTunes. So, overall, I guess Books is OK if you’re only using it to manage books/audiobooks bought from Apple. But if you’re trying to use it to manage random DRM-free files, it’s not optimal. So I spent some time puzzling through that, and realizing that there really isn’t a better alternative for managing audiobooks on the Mac.

I was also wondering if, now that I’m in Apple Music, there was a way to sync my audiobooks up to the cloud the way it works with Music. If I could do that, I’d be pretty close to having no further need to sync my iPhone to my Mac. But there’s really no way to do that. You still need to sync books to your iPhone the old-fashioned way. (That doesn’t really bother me too much, but if you’re going to push everybody to the cloud, maybe add that functionality to the Books app too?)

So, overall, Books on macOS was a bit of a disappointment, but I cleaned things up a little, updated my Evernote notes, and removed a few completed books from my iPhone.

Then, I went over to my PC to see what my iTunes audiobook library looked like over there. Apple hasn’t done much with iTunes on the PC lately, so the audiobook stuff still works fine. I did find one book that somehow accidentally migrated into my music collection, but I got it back into the audiobook section, and everything else seems fine.

Next, I decided to try installing the Audible app on my iPhone again, and see if the issue I was having back in July had sorted itself out yet. And the answer is: nope. I can get as far as launching the app and signing in, but then it just spins for a few seconds and crashes. It’s actually even worse that it was back in July. I tried a few hints and tips I saw online, like trying to launch it with wi-fi turned off, but nothing helped. The app just crashes, no matter what I do. The whole thing is kind of puzzling. There have been a bunch of updates to the Audible app between July and now, so if it was a common bug, they’d have fixed it. And I’ve updated from iOS 13 to iOS 14 since then, so if it was an iOS bug, you’d think that would have been fixed too.

I’ve got some stuff bookmarked related to the idea of keeping audiobooks in Plex and listening to them with an app called Prologue. It sounds promising, but I’m not ready to start messing with Plex again. It would only be useful for the DRM-free stuff, and not for stuff bought through Apple or Audible (unless I stripped the DRM, which is yet another step to go through).

So, around two hours after I started, I still haven’t picked out a new audiobook to start, and I’m more annoyed and depressed about the state of audiobook management and playback on the Mac and iOS that I was to begin with. Oh well.



I finally broke down and bought myself a pair of AirPods yesterday. I didn’t get the fancy new AirPods Pro, just the regular AirPods, with the regular case (not the wireless charging case). They were on sale for $140 at Costco. I’ve considered picking up a pair a few times over the last year, but never quite talked myself into it. But I’ve been reading and watching a bunch of headphone reviews recently, and stopped at the Apple Store over the weekend to try out both the older AirPods and the newer AirPods Pro. The “Pro” model didn’t fit my ears well, though I only tried the medium tips. But it was the kind of thing where I was pretty sure that none of the tips was going to be quite right. (And I didn’t want to pay $300 either.)

The AirPods don’t fit my ears that well either, honestly, but they’re good enough. My “use case” for them will probably be for listening to music at my desk at work, podcasts and audiobooks at home, and maybe podcasts & music on the train occasionally. So I’ll usually be fairly stationary when I’m using them. Still, I may pick up a pair of these tips from Comply or these Earhoox things to get a better fit.

I had a lot of resistance to adding a new battery-powered device to my life. I feel like I have too many of those already. I had a lot of resistance to the Apple Watch for that reason too, but I’ve really gotten to like the watch. I suppose I’ll get used to the AirPods too. I plan on charging them right next to the Watch, on my computer desk, overnight. I had to buy a new two-port USB charger so I could do that, since I didn’t have a spare AC outlet near there. (And the AirPods don’t ship with an AC adapter anyway, just a Lightning/USB cable.)

I used the AirPods a bit at work today, and they worked well. The sound quality is similar to the old Sony earbuds that I’ve been using at work, but maybe a little better on the bass end. I listened to some rock, classical, and ambient music today, and they sounded fine on all of that. The ambient music sounded best, probably because it had the most bass. The classical (some Itzhak Perlman Mozart stuff) was not terribly impressive, but I wouldn’t expect it to be. You need good headphones or speakers to really get the full effect from something like that.

There are a few semi-interesting things that you can do with the AirPods that you can’t necessarily do with other headphones. I played around with Live Listen for a bit yesterday, and I’m curious to play with that some more. I do have some problems hearing, and I feel like that might help me out in certain circumstances.

I’m also curious to try them with my Apple TV. I do sometimes use headphones while I’m watching TV, but the way I do it now is a little inconvenient. (I’m using wired headphones connected to my stereo receiver.) I’m curious to see how the AirPods would work when watching a movie on Apple TV.

I haven’t used them for a phone call yet, but I’ll try that at some point. And I need to look at the Apple documentation to see if there’s anything else I can do with them that might be worth trying.

Overall, they’re fine, but they’re not life-changing, and I’m not sure they’re really worth more than $100. (But hey, what else am I going to spend my money on?)

2018 reading goals

I’ve been thinking about my habits around book-reading, and reading in general, lately, since it’s the start of a new year. As I mentioned in my New Year’s post, I completed my Goodreads challenge last year, reading over 100 books, though most of them were comic book collections. So far this year, I’ve completed 5 books: one audio drama, and four manga volumes. So I’m not patting myself on the back yet. I’m definitely on a manga kick right now, so this year’s reading may be pretty manga-heavy.

I just finished reading an old New Yorker article about a guy who was in prison for ten years, and used the time to read 1046 books. Not to be overly dramatic, but I feel a little like I’m in prison today; it’s so cold out that it’s really not a good idea to go outside for anything that’s not completely necessary. (So far, I’ve only left the apartment to take out my garbage, and that was pretty painful.) It’s a really fun article, one that I bookmarked a couple of years ago and just rediscovered via my attempt to clean up my bookmarks (see previous post), so that effort hasn’t been entirely pointless.

I also recently learned of the 52book subreddit, which is all about the idea of challenging yourself to read a book a week for the year. I can definitely do that, if comic books count. Otherwise, I think I’d have to be in prison or at least unemployed to manage a reasonably-long novel or non-fiction book a week.

I spent a little time organizing my audiobook “library” a bit more this weekend. I have several that I bought from Audible, several from Apple, a bunch from Humble Bundles, and some random ones I bought on CDs and ripped; I haven’t really been doing a great job of keeping track of them all. (In fact, I seem to have two copies of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere: one on CD and one from Audible.) I’d like to get a bit more into audiobooks and audio dramas this year, mostly due to issues with my tired old eyes making it hard for me to read at night.

I’m also trying to start up a meditation habit this year, so let’s see where any of this goes. It may all go out the window if it warms up and I can actually get out and do stuff outside again.

Super-Fast Podcasts

I like this article on People Who Listen to Podcasts at Super-Fast Speeds from BuzzFeed. Mostly, I like the fact that I haven’t fallen down the hole of feeling like I need to listen to podcasts at 10x speed or whatever, like these folks. I’m perfectly fine listening to them at 1x, and allowing Overcast to delete old episodes from my iPhone, even if I haven’t listened to them yet.

In the old days, I used to let podcast episodes pile up on my Mac, and I’d let myself feel a little bad if I didn’t keep up with them. Nowadays, I just have Overcast set up to keep the most recent 5 (or, for some podcasts, 10) episodes. If a new one comes out, and I haven’t listened to the oldest one yet, it just gets deleted regardless.

And I do sometimes use Overcast’s “Smart Speed” feature, which will generally speed things up to 1.1x or 1.2x without it being really noticeable. But, if I’m listening to, for instance, Judge John Hodgman, I usually don’t bother with Smart Speed, since I’m listening to stuff like that largely to relax, so it doesn’t make any difference if I get through an hour-long episode in 50 minutes or 60 minutes. (And I can relax a bit better if people aren’t talking too fast.)

I do sometimes wish I could jam more episodes of .NET Rocks into my head at a faster pace. There’s a lot of good stuff on that show, and it comes out 2 or 3 times a week. I wind up skipping a lot of episodes. Listening to it at  high-speed would, I think, just result in me understanding even less of it than I do now, so I’m sticking with regular speed on that one.

AD&D games and Doctor Who audio

I’ve blogged about AD&D gold box games a couple of times in the past. I finally got around to buying a bunch of them from GOG last week, when they had some game bundles on sale for 50% off. So I only spent $10 and got about a dozen games.

The last thing I bought from GOG was Neverwinter Nights, which I started playing over this summer, but got sidetracked from at some point. I haven’t played it in more than a month (though I do really want to get back to it).

So I’m probably not going to actually play any of those gold box games any time soon. But that’s OK. They’re DRM-free and multi-platform, so they’ll be there whenever I get around to it. And they include PDF files of all the cool extras that came with these games, so I’ll have some fun browsing through them at some point. It’ll bring back some fun memories.

I’ve also recently started listening to Big Finish’s Doctor Who audio dramas again. I hadn’t really listened to any of them at all this year, so it’s fun to get back into those. I’ve still got 4 or 5 of them that I haven’t listened to yet, so I’m in no danger of running out. But they had a Halloween sale this weekend, so I went ahead and bought one more: a box set of Fourth Doctor “lost stories.” I haven’t listened to any of Big Finish’s Tom Baker stuff at all, so I’m looking forward to that.

So I’ve got plenty of nerdy entertainment options to get me through the fall and winter!

Audible Channels

I’ve never had a subscription to Audible, but I have a few books in my Audible account that I’ve gotten for free over the years. I saw that the audiobook for Mike Carey’s The Girl with All the Gifts was on sale for $3.95 yesterday, and it looked interesting, so I went ahead and bought it. I’ve read and enjoyed other stuff by Mike Carey, and this book seems to be well-reviewed, so I’m hoping it will be good. I usually try to buy audiobooks only if I can get them in DRM-free format, either on CD or as MP3s, but I’ll buy a DRM’d audiobook if it’s cheap enough.

After buying it, I opened up the Audible app on my iPhone, with the idea that maybe I’d go ahead and download it. It wasn’t logged in to my account, and I get the feeling that I hadn’t actually launched Audible since getting my iPhone SE earlier this year. That’s not surprising, since I haven’t been listening to any audiobooks lately.

After I logged in, I got a popup screen, letting me know about Audible Channels for Prime, a free service from Audible that lets Amazon Prime members stream and download a bunch of podcast-like material. There are some original series on there that look interesting (including stuff from Jon Ronson and Eugene Mirman), along with some stuff that’s already available elsewhere (including most of the podcasts from WNYC). I don’t think I’d want to use the Audible app to listen to podcasts that I can get elsewhere; as an app, it’s not going to be nearly as good as Overcast. But the original content looks like it’ll be worth delving into.

They’re also making a limited number of audiobooks free for Prime members, but they’re streaming-only and can’t be downloaded. There’s not much there, but there are a few interesting books that I wouldn’t mind listening to.

Poking around in my Audible account reminded me that I never finished listening to Metatropolis, which I got for free from Audible back in 2010. I remember that I’d listened to the first two of the five stories in that book, so I started in on the third last night.

I may start listening to more audiobooks and audio dramas again. It’s a good change of pace from reading regular books (both print and ebooks), and it’s much easier on the eyes.