I came in to another two Playaways that had stopped working. It’s been more than 30 days, so of course we can’t send them back to Ingram.  One I can’t even get to turn on and the other the volume has to be turned to maximum to even get the lowest muttering. I could hear it in my quiet office but the possibility of hearing it in a noisy car on a trip would be slim.

These things are supposed to hold up to middle school student abuse, preschoolers antics, etc…and 8 circulations in they’re toast.  They won’t turn on or the volume is screwy or the display screen has flaked out. I’ve heard from the selector for adult audio that she’s having similar issues and somehow I don’t think adults are randomly flinging all of these across the room. When we’re paying $60 a piece for these, we need to get more circulations out if it.

And it’s not like there’s an easy replacement plan–I can’t just send away for a new disc/tape. I have to scrap the entire thing and buy again. Our discount from Playaway is pretty much nonexistent so we usually go through Ingram who, somewhat understandably, won’t let us return them 6 months/4 circs later.  I could ask that Acquisitions Man get them directly from Playaway and then replace them with each breakage but oh–that’d just mean I’m spending $15 in replacements on however many every single year.   My audio budget is already stretched with the ever increasing demand–I need these things to hold up and do their work, not constantly need to be sent back/replaced.

I think I’m going to have to give up on Playaways–they don’t seem to be fiscally responsible as a way to use my library’s monies.

It does raise the “all in one package” question though. If we put everything into one small device, what do we do if that device fails? Jason Griffey had to send his Ipad back recently when the screen failed–but at least with netbooks/ereaders/tablets/laptops we usually have things backed up and can get our data back within a day or two.  Even that often comes with a shipping cost and headache and frustration as we wait without the information we’ve put into the machines. Playaways are supposed to be an easy answer to people not wanting to lost parts and pieces, forget a disc or worry about scratches–but when they fail,  it’s total and complete and I’m up a creek.

I want to like this format–I’ve argued FOR this format–but ultimately I’m faced with high prices and low reliability. And that makes me really crabby.