LISTENING TO BOOKS ON THE ROAD

* A growing number of Americans are spending their commuting hours listening to audio books - most of them abridged.For literary devotees who want to hear the whole story, Books on Tape Inc. offers unabridged books for rent by mail. The Newport Beach, Calif., company offers 2,500 titles for 30-day usage. The company says that, where an abridged audio book has an average purchase price of $15.95 for 3 hours of listening, Books on Tape rentals average $15 to $20 for seven to 12 hours of listening.

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