The Black Library has started producing digital editions of many of their publications. This includes not only audio books, as they have done on CD for a few years now, but also fulltext eBooks and unabridged audio. The audio books are now available in downloadable .mp3 format and the books are available as .ePub and .mobi (you get both). Surprisingly all of the formats are provided without copy protection and are licensed so you can load them on multiple personal devices.
All of the publications are in industry standard formats. The .mp3 format is of course playable on just about any audio device at this point including any computer. There are a number of reader options for .ePub and .mobi as well. .mobi is more popular on small form factor devices such as the iPhone or Android phone. .ePub is probably the preferred format for eReaders and computers but with text-only novels either format works just fine. On Apple’s iPad there are numerous .ePub reader apps including Apple’s own iBooks app. For the computer, Adobe’s Adobe Digital Editions is probably one of the better reader applications. The new Barnes&Noble NookColor — a great device for $250 by the way — also reads the .ePub format. There is also a Nook app for the iPad (the Windows Nook app is not so great). The books look great on all of the devices we tried. [Note: The NookColor seems to have a slight bug where random text gets rendered it a slightly larger font. B&N we hopefully fix this with an update.]
Unfortunately, the Black Library eCommerce site only has prices in UK pounds. Most books are ~£6.50 — that works out to about $10.00 at current conversion rates. On Amazon.com you can get most Black Library publications for around $8.99 but if you add in shipping and/or sales tax you are at least breaking even. On the plus side most of the books are ~£6.50 where some cost more on Amazon. The full audio books are probably where the conversion pricing hurts the most. For example, the unabridged audio version of Prospero Burns is £20.00 (~$31) but it is 16 hours of audio.
We grabbed a handful of titles including some audio books. We were very impressed with the audio books. We got Fireborn and Heart of Rage both of which are somewhat older publications having been released on CD previously. Both are audio dramas and include dramatic story telling with sound effects and music. They are only about an hour long but are very well done. We liked Fireborn better but that is probably personal taste.
Overall this is an interesting development for fans of Warhammer 40,000 and epublications. The ability to carry multiple titles and read them on multiple devices is a nice convenience. The audio books are a nice diversion and make for some interesting listening while modeling. Hopefully Black Library will continue to publish in electronic formats.