I have a feeling that the makers of the Playaway, a portable one-shot audio book player, designed it to appeal to technophobes. Why else would anyone think that it makes more sense to spend $35 to $55 on a digital player that can only play one thing and one thing only: the book that’s hard-coded into its memory. With the original version of the book, at least, you have something that’s made of a renewable resource (paper) and frankly looks pretty cool when you store a bunch of them on a shelf. With the Playaway, when you’re done with the story, you’re left with a slightly bulky object that just doesn’t have the same comfort appeal on a shelf. Besides, books cost less.
However, if the idea of signing up for a service like Audible and downloading audio books to your portable music player (or even better, getting them for free on loan from your public library, as the New York Public Library does) gives you the willies, I could see why you’d find a niche product like the Playaway interesting. I just think I’ll stick with being able to carry more than one story around at a time.