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Audible tests wireless book delivery

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Audible took a step toward the wireless book delivery business Tuesday.

The Wayne-based provider of spoken audio recordings - mainly books and periodicals - launched a public trial of its new service dubbed AudibleAir, the company said.

The service will deliver audio books to smartphones such as the Palm Treo. The initial public test will be limited to customers who have a Treo.

The company also is developing AudibleAir for smartphones based on Windows Mobile operating sys-tems and the Symbian Series 60 smartphones.

Audible subscribers download recordings of best-selling books, newspapers, magazines and other recorded audio onto a variety of devices, including portable digital players such as the Apple iPod.

The service requires downloading to a computer first before transferring the audio file to a portable player. The new wireless service will allow customers with a Treo smartphone to skip that step and download files over the air directly to their smartphones.

The company said all of its recorded content will be available to its wireless customers.

"Wireless access to content has been a strategic goal since the company's inception," Donald Katz, Audible's chairman and CEO said in a statement. "AudibleAir is a major step and instrumental element of our extension of the Audible service into next generation mobile devices that will become standard issue for consumers during the years to come."

Audible was founded in 1997 and stumbled during the technology bust in 2000, which drove hundreds of Internet companies out of business. The company's shares dropped as low as 30 cents, forcing the company off the Nasdaq Stock Market in February 2003.

But the company held on, building its customer base through subscriptions and increasing revenues. Audible came back onto the Nasdaq in July 2004.

The company's stock has been battered this past year, dropping more than 30 percent from a high in December of $30.65.

Shares closed up 66 cents Tuesday to $11.80 per share.

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(C) 2005 The Record, Bergen County, NJ. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved

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