As a long-time audiobook lover I was excited to discover that my public library now offers an extensive selection of digital spoken-word texts free for downloading. I say that I "was" excited. That is, when I discovered that the books are published in a non-iPod compatible format I lost some of my enthusiasm.
It seems that many libraries used audiobooks in a protected format known as Digital Rights Media (DRM). This is great for authors and publishers, but not so good for users who would like to convert the files from one format to another. The books I want to hear are mostly Windows Media Player (WPM) files with DRM protection. In other words, a user can listen on the computer or on a portable device that supports WPM files, but not on the iPod which accepts only mp3 or mp4 files. This is probably no problem for Mac users running iTunes, but a user looking to use a different player on Windows is left adrift.
My reasons to break free from iTunes are fairly simple: I would like to avoid filling up my new netbook mini-hard drive with such a large program, and I would like to manage my audiobooks on the road.
Ever in search of a workaround, I trawled the web looking for a solution. It seems that the only choice is to convert the files to mp3/mp4 (legally questionable) and then upload these files to the iPod. Some programs claim to upload directly, but I couldn't make this feature work on my iPod Touch. I downloaded several different trial programs to my old laptop and took them for a test drive. None were able to upload directly to the iPod without iTunes.
Once again Mac and Windows don't play together nicely. But I've decided I'm not giving up on the library and all those wonderful free books; I'll just play by their rules. I will be syncing my iPod with iTunes for music, and going to sleep at my desk with the latest mystery thriller.
If you know of a solution to this dilemma, I do hope you will share it with us.