My literary agent wrote to me this morning to tell me about a letter his agency just received from Blackstone Audio, one of the largest audiobook publishers in the world, announcing that Blackstone was phasing out its use of DRM. Blackstone is contacting the rightsholders for all its titles notifying them that they'll be releasing their catalog in DRM-free MP3 (with some kind of watermarking — I'm skeptical that this will work to stop pirates, since all imperceptible watermarks can be trivially removed through simple means like diffing two files) format unless they hear otherwise by a certain date.
Blackstone now joins with Random House Audio (the audio division of the world's largest publisher, Bertelsmann) in rejecting DRM for its audiobooks and I've heard off-the-record accounts of other major audiobook houses planning to do the same.
All this raises the question: when will Audible — the largest audiobook retailer in the world and the exclusive provider of downloadable audiobooks for iTunes and Amazon — drop the DRM on its audiobooks? I was shocked a month ago to hear from Amazon that they would not carry the Random House Audio audiobook of my NYT-bestselling novel Little Brother because it was only available as an MP3. Official Amazon policy on audiobooks still seems to be no DRM = no dice.
Bravo to Blackstone for taking a stand for its customers' rights!
PDF Link to Blackstone Audio letter