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Five MP3 players for audiobook addicts

Senior Editor Donald Bell rounds up his top-five MP3 players that are compatible with audio books.

Cover of Frank Herbert's Dune paperback
The movie is unforgivable, but the Dune audiobook was good enough to become a month-long obsession of mine.

I have a confession to make. Earlier this year I got my hands on an audiobook CD version of Frank Herbert's sci-fi classic Dune, which I used to research a segment on how to rip audiobook CDs to an iPod. But what started as research became an obsession. For several weeks, I stopped listening to music or my regular rotation of podcasts and devoted all of my recreational listening hours to Dune (mind you, it's a long book). When it was done...I listened to the whole thing all over again! A month of my life got sucked into an audiobook and I loved every minute of it.

Eventually I had to go cold turkey, but I can definitely understand how people get hooked on audiobooks. The right book with the right actors can really suck in your attention and imagination like nothing else.

Of course, if you're going to try and sneak in a listen on your lunch break or commute, you want to have an MP3 player that will make it as easy as possible to jump right in with a minimum of hassle. A good, audiobook-friendly MP3 player needs to do more than just work with Audible files, it also needs to automatically bookmark playback and make it easy to rewind passages and keep chapters in their correct order.

So if you're shopping for a new MP3 player that will do justice to your audiobooks, I've put together my top-five players in a handy chart. My first choice is the iPod Touch, which now includes an audiobook download store directly on the device. Other cool audiobook-friendly features include a very unique "scrubber" bar for scanning through audio with fine-grain control, as well as playback speed and 30-second rewind buttons right on the screen. Also, as corny as it sounds, it's nice to have book cover artwork on the nice, large, 3.5-inch screen.

Click through to see the rest of my recommendations.