iPod Illiterate?

Is the thought of loading your CD collection onto that little white box called the iPod enough to scare you back to vinyl? You aren't alone. As Apple Computer (AAPL )'s popular MP3 player becomes a mainstream must-have, it's only natural that the ranks of techno-deficient iPod owners will continue to grow.

And where there's a demand, someone is always ready to help. A slew of books and services has popped up to take the intimidation factor out of the iPod. iPod & iTunes for Dummies (John Wiley & Sons, $16.99) and Secrets of the iPod (Peachpit Press, $19.99) offer easy-to-read explanations for setting up your iPod, loading it with songs, and managing your music files.

If you'd rather have someone else do the work, for $1.50 per CD, LoadPod (loadpod.com) will send a professional consultant or tech-savvy college student to your house to pick up your iPod and CDs and return them to you within five days with the iPod fully loaded. The service, an offshoot of the popular iPodGarage.com site, is available in 33 states and Washington, D.C.

Another service, RipDigital (ripdigital.com), will copy your CDs onto an MP3-packed data DVD but leaves the iPod-loading to you. RipDigital charges around $1 per CD, with lower rates for bulk orders. Unlike LoadPod, which operates through house calls, RipDigital requires customers to ship their music collection via FedEx (FDX ).

Apple won't load your iPod for you, but you can stop by the "Genius Bars" at its retail stores, where the bewildered can get help from an expert. Detailed manuals and support are also available from apple.com. Or you can call the tech-support hotline, just like in the old days.

By Seth Porges

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