Simply Audiobooks: The Mysterious Affair At Styles by Agatha Christie

Aural Noir: Online Audio

Simply AudiobooksThe Mysterious Affair At Styles by Agatha Christie is available FREE, for the month of May 2010, over on Simply Audiobooks. But, if you’re not absolutely riveted by the prospect of getting a copy for FREE, I suggest you stop reading this post NOW.

This FREE audiobook is not particularly awesome, in fact it’s pretty terrible. It has all the problems I complained about Simply Audiobook’s FREE audiobook two years ago and it has some sound quality issues too. To get the audiobook you’ll need to do the following:

First up, you’ll need to give your name and email address to Simply Audiobooks HERE.

Second, while the narrator seems fine, there are numerous headaches involved in making it a universally playable audiobook. Chief among these problems is that the download comes in the ridiculously lame WMD file format. WMD supposedly stands for Windows Media Download. The file is, of course, completely unplayable on any portable media player that I’ve ever owned. It will, however, play in a current version of Windows Media Player 11, on one of my PCs. That doesn’t mean it will play in whatever version with whatever codecs your WMP will have. Once it does get playing, you’ll be saddened to hear that Stan Winiarski’s narration is partially obscured by lots of hiss and click-pops – it almsot sounds like the audiobook was recorded on a wax cylinder. If you’re still with me, you’ll definitely want get this file more workable – in which case you will need to do the following:

1. Download and install a free piece of software called Free WMA to MP3 Converter 1.16

2. Download and install a free piece of software called 7-Zip 4.65 |

3. Create a new folder and put a copy of the WMD file in there.

4. Right clicking on that file should, if you’ve installed 7-Zip, allow you to “Extract files…”, do that.

5. After processing, your folder should be filled with 18 WMA files (that’s the audiobook) and some other junk which you can dispense with.

6. Run those 18 WMA files through Free WMA to MP3 Converter and you should now have 18 MP3 files – and you can delete the WMAs.

At this point you can pretty much takeover, I assume. Myself, I like to run most multi-MP3 audiobooks through iPod Audio Book Converter, that way I can make one big M4B file that is bookmarkable in iTunes.

Good luck!

SIMPLY AUDIOBOOKS - The Mysterious Affair At Styles by Agatha ChristieThe Mysterious Affair At Styles
By Agatha Christie; Read by Stan Winiarski
1 WMD File – Approx. 4 Hours 30 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Simply Audiobooks Publishing
Published: 2008
Agatha Christie’s first novel introduces the legendary Hercule Poirot, his friend Captain Arthur Hastings, and the Chief Inspector Japp. Match wits with the master detective to unravel the complexity of clues and point a fateful finger at the real murderer, from among a stunning, cunning cast of candidates. *Only Available in the US and Canada

Posted by Jesse Willis

Call Of The Wild by Jack London FREE @ (too bad it sucks)

SFFaudio Online Audio

Simply AudiobooksSeptember’s Free Download over on Simply Audiobooks website is Jack London’s The Call Of The Wild.

The Call of the Wild – Jack London’s classic 1903 story of Buck, a courageous dog fighting for survival in the Alaskan wilderness, is widely considered to be his masterpiece. Sometimes wrongly considered simply a children’s novel, this epic vividly evokes the harsh and frozen Yukon during the Gold Rush. As Buck is ripped from his pampered surroundings and shipped to Alaska to be a sled dog, his primitive, wolflike nature begins to emerge. Savage struggles and timeless bonds between man, dog, and wilderness are played to their heartrending extremes, as Buck undertakes a mystic journey that transforms him into the legendary “Ghost Dog” of the Klondike.

Call OF The Wild
By Jack London; Read by Michael Scott
Provider: /
Available: September 2008

Unfortunately, after a simple entry of a name and email address the download comes in a WMD file (Windows Media Download) making it virtually unusable. The MP3 files are in there, but they are very hard to get at. Unless you want to fiddle with it for more than an hour (that’s how long it took me) you’ll have to play it using a windows media device (a Zune presumably) or in a windows media player (sitting in front of your computer).
It’s absolutely not worth it. It turns out the audiobook pictured is not the audiobook you get. Simply Audiobooks displays the free audiobook as the UNABRIDGED Tantor Media version, as read by Patrick Lawlor, but instead what you actually download is the version (which is ABRIDGED and read by Michael Scott).

So, here’s my suggestion, download the public domain LibriVox version. That version of Call Of The Wild is UNABRIDGED, and is available in naked MP3s, a Zipped MP3 bundle, by torrent and as a podcast :

LibriVox Audiobook - Call Of The Wild by Jack LondonCall OF The Wild
By Jack London; Read by various readers
Zipped MP3s or Podcast – Approx. 3.25 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Published: October 2005

The downside is that it is read by multiple readers, which is annoying, but at least it’s not going to suck up your valuable time.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Renting audiobooks

SFFaudio Commentary

Renting audiobooks is a cost-effective way of getting your hands on some very good stuff. How does it work? With the companies listed here, you select a book or two that is sent to you in a self-addressed stamped box. Usually you keep the book for 30 days, after which you put the book back in the box, tape it closed, then drop it in a mailbox.

Blackstone Audio
Science Fiction Audiobooks - Blackstone AudioBlackstone Audio has been building a fantastic science fiction and fantasy collection. Their narrators are generally good. Some of their latest include Spider Robinson’s Callahan books and Heinlein’s Citizen of the Galaxy. They also carry titles by Catherine Asaro, Charles Sheffield, Robert Silverberg, and Lois McMaster Bujold. They also produce MP3-CD versions of much of their catalog, which makes purchasing the titles outright very attractive.

Recorded Books, Inc.
Science Fiction Audiobooks - Recorded BooksRecorded Books has the biggest collection of high quality science fiction and fantasy titles out there. Their narrators are just excellent, and include Frank Muller, George Guidall, Rob Inglis, and Richard Ferrone, among many others. To name a few titles: Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, several Robert A. Heinlein titles, Piers Anthony’s Incarnations of Immortality series, and Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower and Parable of the TalentsDoomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis are also here. Their rental plan now includes a Netflix-style option – for $30/month you can have as many titles as you can hear.

Simply Audiobooks
Science Fiction Audiobooks  - Simply Audiobooks
Simply Audiobooks has taken the Netflix model and applied it to audiobooks. Unlike the two options above, who with just a few exceptions rent only their own titles, Simply Audiobooks has a very nice Science Fiction and Fantasy selection from publishers across the spectrum. They currently charge $19.95 per month for unlimited rentals, and they invite you to try it out FREE.

And last, don’t forget to check out your local library. Many libraries are building fine audiobook collections in response to patron requests.

NOTE: Books on Tape no longer rents audiobooks.