CDs v. Cassettes and other things

So, on the subject of previous rantings, and at the risk of sounding like a Luddite, I much prefer audiocassettes to CDs. I listen to a lot of books on tapes, and CDs leave a lot to be desired in this category. You can't, for instance, take them out of one machine and put them in another and have them start from the same point. It's harder to fast forward to a specific spot (I realize this has more to do with my machine than the available technology). As a teacher, I prepare a lot of material at home, and then take it in to the college where I use the available machinery there. It's a real pain in the neck to do this with CDs (with DVDs too, but I really like DVDs, despite the whole widescreen issue). Instead of just sticking the thing in and hitting play, I have to put it in, find the correct track and then, often, fastforward within that track to the right location (or, if the machinery is dated, listen to the track until it gets to the right spot and hit pause). The beauty of audiocassettes is you don't have to do that. You can cue to a very precise position on, say, a Wednesday, and still have the stuff ready to go on Friday.

I think the solution (and again, the technology appears to be out there, I just don't have it) is to create systems where you can mark your place on a DVD or CD. The only problem there is, like rewinding, the renter has to remember to unmark the DVD or CD before returning it to Netflix or the library or wherever. Otherwise, the next person who watches it will be carried instantaneously to the scene with Frodo and the eagles or the blowing up of some ship or whatever.

On a completely different subject, does anyone actually read the blurbs on the backs of books? Not the summaries but the parsed out quotations of reviews by famous people? I don't think I've ever bought a book in my life based on those quotations. Perhaps, they're like eye candy. We expect them to be there, but nobody actually reads them. In any case, what do we expect them to say? "This book is kind of good but I didn't care for the middle." Or, "Read this book only if you have absolutely nothing else to do." Maybe the quotes do say that, and nobody reads them closely enough to know it. (Actually, occasionally I have looked to see who, rather than what, reviewed the book, but that's usually after I've already started it.)


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