I got a letter from Amazon/Audible

Having heard them being promoted aggressively on almost all the Podcasts I frequent, and having recognized the practical comfort of audiobooks, I’ve been wondering about purchasing some audiobooks from Audible. However, I’ve heard that Audible uses DRM, even worse, they mandate the use of DRM even when the book author wishes otherwise. I find this to be unacceptable.

Therefore I was happy to take the opportunity offered by this page to make my voice heard.

I’ve followed the instructions on the page and and send a message to Amazon stating that while I’ll be happy to purchase audiobooks from Audible, I will not spend my money on such books if they are encumbered by DRM technology that by its very nature will limit my choice of audio players and operating systems (on the very least it will most probably not support the cheap mp3-only players on the market).

Today I got a reply from Amazon, I’ve posted the full text below.

Hello from Amazon.com.

Audible is DRM agnostic — our primary goal is to offer a great customer experience. Audiobooks purchased on Audible.com can be played on over 600 AudibleReady devices, including Kindles, iPods and most other MP3 players, Tom Toms and other GPS devices, Sonos and other in-home systems, and all PCs and Macs. Unlike DRM-free MP3 music files designed for songs, audiobook files must deliver a unique multi-hour listening experience. Customers have recognized and appreciated Audible’s unique listening experience since the company’s inception in 1997. Audible is committed to maintaining and improving the features that drive this experience.

Audible recently announced that it is working to provide the option of DRM-free spoken word audio titles on Audible.com for content owners who prefer this method and are committed to working with Audible to maintain a great customer experience.

Thanks for your interest in Amazon.com and Audible.

Sincerely,

Customer Service
Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com/

Lets break this apart shall we?

Audible is DRM agnostic

That doesn’t sound right, if you are, why do you insist on using DRM even when the author requests otherwise?

Audiobooks purchased on Audible.com can be played on over 600 AudibleReady devices …

Sorry, you have no right dictating which devices do I use, regardless of the amount of devices you do support. It is very probable the cheap mp3-only devices or software mp3 players for 3g smart phones are not supported.

… and all PCs and Macs

Really? will it work if I install Ubuntu on my PC? FreeBSD? Nexenta?

Unlike DRM-free MP3 music files designed for songs, audiobook files must deliver a unique multi-hour listening experience.

Yeah, I suppose one huge MP3 file for the entire audiobook is a bad idea, but this has nothing to do with DRM. Here is a simple solution for you: let me download a ZIP file with mutiple MP3 files, one per chapter. Include an M3U playlist file for less then knowledgeable users, and we’re in business (or just provide proper ID3 tags for the files, most modern audio players will do the rest).

Audible recently announced that it is working to provide the option of DRM-free spoken word audio titles on Audible.com for content owners who prefer this method and are committed to working with Audible to maintain a great customer experience.

Well, if that is the case then its a whole other deal, however I’ll only believe it when I see Little Brother published on audible.

Gotta love marketing speak, don’t you think?

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3 thoughts on “I got a letter from Amazon/Audible

  1. Well done on the comment, I’ve been hearing a variety of returns from amazon. This one is far more telling then some of the others. Nice break down too.

    I’m working on a follow up to this with letters to the editor, so keep your eyes out and fingers warm for another call to write.

    Cheers,
    Rich
    callanaudible.org

  2. I recently complained about linux support and DRM. Following is the response I got…

    “As per your email, we are actually trying to work with the open-source developers of Linux to see if we can make our file format compatible with their operating system. If that happens, we do expect support for Linux computers in the future, and hope that occurs. I am so sorry that we are not able to support this system at this time, but I do hope that in the future, we will be able to provide our software to the number of Linux users that have been asking for it to become compatible.

    In regards to the Digital Rights Media usage on the Audible audio files. The measures taken by Audible are required to protect both the intellectual property rights of our Content Providers as well as the Authors.
    Audible created and employs a proprietary technology solution for distributing copyright-secure audio files that can be downloaded or streamed from audible.com.
    With out the use of DRM Audible would not have the ability to carry over 40,000 titles in audio format for distribution. Therefore, Audible will continue to follow the agreement set by the publishers and authors.

    Here at Audible, we truly value and appreciate your business; if you need further assistance, please respond to this email or if you wish, please provide me with a contact number and the best available time to reach you.

    For additional questions, how to contact us and hours of operation, please visit us at: http://www.audible.com/contactus

    Sincerely,
    Carlos O.
    Audible Customer Support”

  3. One they they leave out is how good or bad they will support their stupid file format of .aa. For example, I have a Pocket PC based phone. Their crappy player doesn’t even properly render and thus takes up only a portion of the screen. Such a small foot print makes it hard to hit the pause button properly. It does not update the time stamp on bookmarks so you think the bookmarks don’t work.

    But what’s worse is that it only plays mono recordings and only out of the left channel. I have a stereo bluetooth headset but listening to an audio book through the audible (or should I say terrible) player I feel like I have to be walking in circles to my left! Plus the sound sounds distorted at best.

    I use Pocket Player for my media needs on my Pocket PC and it works very well – but it can’t play an Audible file because there is no codec supported.

    There is a codec supported for Pocket Music Player but I don’t want yet another media player for my Pocket PC. As it is I have HTC Touch Diamond’s Music Player, Windows Media Player, Pocket Player and now the Audible Player. Each competing for, and sometimes stealing the Bluetooth AVRCP controls such that hitting play on my stereo bluetooth headset sometimes causes 2 or more player to start playing different material! ARGH! Total frustration!!! So much so that if I cannot find a way to convert these audible files to straight MP3 files and let my equipment and software of choice handle them then I’m dumping audible! Man what a dumbass move by Audible.com!

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