Amazon buys Audible, promises to kill DRM if we complain

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26 Responses to “Amazon buys Audible, promises to kill DRM if we complain”

  1. joneric says:

    Cory – While I am impressed by your efforts to remove the DRM from your downloads, I am curious as to why you didn’t re-download your purchases in one of the other formats that would be compatible with your player/computer?

  2. joneric says:

    Disregard my question above.

  3. Epicanis says:

    I know of one company that seems to do it right, but they sell recordings of college course lectures rather than books. “The Teaching Company” offers electronic downloads in addition to hard media…and the files are DRM-free. My wife and I spend quite a lot of money on them every year and the ease of use we gain from not having to contend with DRM actually is a factor. Admittedly, we’re both big nerds…either way, they seem to be doing good business, so it’s obviously possible to not treat your customers like presumptive criminals and yet make a decent profit. (Are you listening, Audible/Amazon.com?)

    (No affiliation – just a fan.)

  4. Moon says:

    I tried Audible when I had a Dell DJ and it was a complete nightmare. Too much work. So I went back to burning CDs to MP3s from the library.

    If it worked well, Audible could be very handy.

  5. Clif Marsiglio says:

    At one point there was an audio converter that could rip Audible…if I still used a PC I’d remember what it was. *MUCH* easier than Hijack…something like AudioGold or something…

    My big problem was that I couldn’t get these dang things to convert to CD for the car…worked *PERFECTLY* on the iPod. Once I got a stereo that worked with my player, I never thought about this again. DRM is annoying, but I knew going in I was going to be tethered to a specific device…

  6. EricT says:

    So If I do not buy because of the DRM from amazon I am not a customer so they wont take my complaints seriously?

  7. topher says:

    Audible better act fast if they want to keep me as a customer. I’ve been playing around with eMusic’s recently added Audio Books, which are all delivered as straight mp3′s, with no DRM. What I’ve discovered is there is a significant overlap between books offered on the two sites, and I’d much rather purchase it in a format I can use on my newest mp3 player (which is not supported by Audible).

  8. cinemajay says:

    @EricT, exactly. Even when you are a customer you have to sift through a dogpile of links to get “help”. There’s no go-to, direct feedback form (at least not one that’s easy to find).

  9. microcars says:

    thank goodness I can still buy books without DRM and spend hours and hours photocopying them.

  10. Cory Doctorow says:

    Joe@6: Sorry, but it’s just not true that the ability to burn and rip Audible books makes it easier to rip them. If I’d gone that route, it would have required me to burn 400+ CDs (which is several days’ work, and which requires that you stand by, swapping discs, day and night) and then rip them (ditto). And when it was done, I’d have weird overlaps in the file, since burning a track that’s longer than 70min to a CD produces mid-sentence breaks in the file.

    Mshea@10: The thing that really cheeses me off about Audible is their refusal to do non-DRM books even if they author wants a non-DRM book. My agent was ready to do the deal with Audible when they said, “Sorry, it’s DRM or nothing.” It’s not as though Audible doesn’t know how to distribute MP3s (several of their free as in beer feeds are MP3), and it’s not as though Apple won’t sell a DRM-free file for them. It’s sheer bloody-mindedness, and it turned me off the company.

  11. linmu says:

    Anyone know of a link, or e-mail address, that we can use to voice our boycott of DRM’ed Audible audio books. I for one will go back to using Audible, if they remove DRM.

  12. Joe MommaSan says:

    Hmmm. I’ve been an Audible member almost since they opened, so this concerns me. Hopefully Amazon will continue to honor Audible’s TOS and any purchased audiobooks will always be available for download by the purchaser, even if the subscription is discontinued.

    As for converting the books to non-DRM format, it’s been a piece of cake since Audible started letting you burn your purchases to CD. It’s still a bit time-consuming on longer books that can run 30 hours or more, but easy on shorter stuff. Just burn them to CD, then rip to MP3 or other non-DRM format.

  13. Gothmog says:

    Looking around their site, it looks like we could offer them the great idea to drop DRM through their greatideas@audible.com email address. That’s where I sent my complaint.

  14. watersdm says:

    Sorry for the blatant plug but when I was searching for info about converting Audible to MP3 most of the methods were long out of date as Audible put pressure on software creators to respect their DRM (‘Goldwave’ etc). When I eventually found out how to do it I documented it here – http://blog.davidwaterston.com/2006/08/09/audible-unlimited/

    It’s an old post but it still works and is much faster than any of the other methods.

  15. paul567 says:

    I’d agree that contacting audible or amazon about this may be the best way to get amazon to drop the DRM.

    If you want more free and DRM-free audio books check out http://librivox.org/ . They have lots of audio books from the public domain.

  16. Jardine says:

    On Windows, Audible burns through Nero. And Nero has an option for burning to a disk image on a hard drive rather than a CD. It also will automatically create filenames for the images when burning multiple CDs. Mount the image as a drive with Daemon Tools or something similar and start ripping. When I do it that way, I end up with fade-outs and fade-ins in the middle of sentences. A little annoying, but not as annoying as ripping in real-time.

  17. mshea says:

    When Sony dropped their DRM I actually called the Audible help line. I am a subscriber and a paying customer but I hate the idea that my audible books are temporary – they cost twice as much as the novel which will last 1000 years buried in mud for crying out loud.

    Anyway, I reached a very nice lady. I put on my best “How to Win Friends and Influence People” mentat like skills to convince her to send a note up the supervisory chain stating that A. it was hurting me as a customer. B. It cost them a lot more in support costs for people who switch. C. The music industry spent millions trying to fight it and eventually gave up. D. The authors didn’t always want it. and E. people were starting to get mad, including both authors and users.

    I think we just have to keep the pressure on, especially as it moves to Amazon. They probably won’t listen to techno-libertarians like us but they will listen to the mom and pop who want to go from an iPod to a mp3 CD player in their car.

  18. Pitch says:

    I got a GPS device last year whose audio book format only worked with Audible files. I thought I’d be good to go since I had bought Audible audio books from iTunes, but then I found out the files in iTunes, although provided by Audible, weren’t Audible files but a locked iTunes MP4. That was convertible to MP3, but after hours on the phone w/ Audible tech support I learnt that there was no way to convert a file to Audible. What a screwed up system when the same company’s files don’t work on two like devices!

  19. salsaman says:

    Growing up, Dad always talked me into getting records instead of tapes, going so far as to tape them for me, and re-taping them if they got fried or damaged. I am grateful that he planted the seed of having a “master,” esp. since it’s sweet having early 80′s classics on vinyl. I’ve spent less than $20 on DRM media, and even then I considered the files disposeable– I paid for the instant access. It’s the same as buying a tape instead of a record or CD– it’s fragile and likely to stop working at some point.

  20. pahool says:

    I get most of my audiobooks these days by downloading from my public library. They are wma drm’d, unfortunately, but the price is right…

    Unfortunately, the two main (maybe the two ONLY) vendors for downloadable audiobooks for libraries: netlibrary and overdrive, both use wma drm, which is a pain in the arse.

    I’ve been a long time emusic subscriber (*sigh* I miss the days of unlimited downloads…) and they’ve recently started a drm-free audiobook download subscription service. The books are available in mp3 format. I think this was posted on boingboing somewhere? Anyway, you can check them out at http://www.emusic.com if you’re interested in drm-free downloadable audiobooks.

  21. burningrome says:

    I’m a audiobook freak (mostly torrented MP3s, but I’ve ripped my share of audio CDs – Aubrey/Maturin comes to mind; 40 GB so far)and those Overdrive books are kind of a pain, my Sansa doesn’t like the DRMed WMAs. Found a good solution, google for FairUse4WM – gets rid of the DRM fast and easy. You still have WMAs tho, that’s a pain to convert to MP3s……

  22. Rich says:

    Can’t you just play it really fast when recording it and then slow it back down?

  23. robin_hood says:

    WTF people? The “ease of subverting Audible’s DRM” is not an argument to keep it, it’s another argument for its uselessness.

    I had an Audible subscription for 2 years. Then I switched computers, my ipod broke, and in general I didn’t want to go through the hassles of conversion, so now I torrent all my audiobooks for free.

    Another example of DRM decreasing revenue, rather than “protecting” it.

  24. ericastill says:

    I paid something like $30 for Noteburner, which allows me to mount a pseudo- cd burner and converts anything I send to that burner into MP3s (so I just click “burn to CD” on Audible manager, windows media player or itunes). It works much more quickly than other of the other methods I’ve tried, although I haven’t figured out how to do it through linux.

  25. Zachariah says:

    Summary: “Audible recently announced that it is working to provide an option of DRM-free spoken work audio titles on Audible.com for content owners and publishers who prefer this method…”

    I just contacted them today via http://audible.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/audible.cfg/php/enduser/ask.php
    (Product:Non-Device…, Category: Technical… Activation)

    I am an Amazon customer, and I love their music store because (among other reasons) it is DRM-free. I am confident I will become an Audible customer in the near future.

    I have read that Audible will drop the use of DRM when it hears from customers that they do not want it (http://www.boingboing.net/2008/01/31/amazon-buys-audible.html).

    You can count this as my complaint about DRM. I have already contacted Amazon about it, and their customer support suggested I contact Audible support directly.

    I imagine that many have already contacted you about this, so my question is this: When can I expect Audible to stop using DRM?

    The response was:

    Thank you for contacting Audible.com. On its behalf, I would like to apologize for any inconvenience and I am most committed to satisfying and resolving your inquiry to the fullest of my abilities.

    As per your email, Audible recently announced that it is working to provide an option of DRM-free spoken work audio titles on Audible.com for content owners and publishers who prefer this method and are committed to working with Audible to maintain a great customer experience. Currently we do not have an implementation date. Once this happen we will notify all of our potential and current customers. Thanks for your patience.

    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

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