[thelist] formatting and compressing audiobooks for download

Garth Hagerman hagerman at mcn.org
Mon Feb 1 19:33:05 CST 2010

Hi all
I have a client who wants to sell downloadable audiobooks online. I've  
already built him a free site, listentogenius.com, where people can  
download mp3 files of public domain material. The longer recordings  
(several hours) on the pay site create some technical complications.  
We'd like to keep the downloads as idiot-proof and universally  
compatible as possible. For the first couple of recordings, my client  
has provided me with a series of single-chapter MP3 files. Ideally,  
the customer would download an archive, painlessly un-stuff it, play  
it in any player, be able to listen to as much of it at a time as s/he  
wants, and resume later from the same spot.
I'm flummoxed as to the best compromise of these criteria. Maybe a zip  
archive of the single-chapter MP3s is the best option, but the  
customer has to stop at the end of each chapter or create a playlist.  
Self extracting archives are appealing, but is there such a thing as a  
cross-platform SEA? Some no-so-famous audio file formats (such as AAC)  
are interesting, but how universally are they supported? I tried  
joining the single chapter MP3s into one file, but there seems to be  
no way in that format to separate the chapters.
While it may be necessary to offer more than one option for a title,  
we really want to avoid a long list of options like "if you're on  
Windows Vista, use a Zune, and have a dsl connection, download this  
Any web audio folks out there with some advice?

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                                my online portfolio


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