Good news, commuters: Barnes & Noble is offering nine audiobooks absolutely free. They're downloads, of course, but they're in MP3 format, meaning that you can burn them to CDs, copy them to your iPod/Zune/Sansa, and listen on your Netbook or whatever.
So, if they're free, they must be bargain bin books from no-name authors, right? Wrong. But eight of them are short stories, most ranging from 30 minutes to 60 minutes. Thus, while you may not recognize the titles, you'll definitely recognize some of the authors.
Among the more notable names: Kurt Vonnegut, Louis L'Amour, Junot Diaz, Alice Munro, and Jonathan Lethem. Oh, there's also this guy Mark Twain, who provides the collection's only full-length novel: "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer."
To get the freebies, just add one or more of them to your shopping cart. (Although they're priced at a penny apiece, your cart will show a $0 balance.) Even though no money's changing hands, you'll need to create a Barnes & Noble account and supply a credit card. (If you'd rather not, choose PayPal as your payment method--even if you don't have an account.)
You'll also need to download and install B&N's OverDrive Media Console software, which manages your audiobooks and lets you play, burn, transfer, etc. It's available for Windows and Mac.
In the interim, you'll receive an e-mail with a link that takes you to the download page. So, yeah, you have to jump through some hoops to get your audiobooks--but such is the price of free, right?