The Tattered Cover is one of the nation's great independent bookstores, ranking with New York's Strand, Portland's Powell's, and Salt Lake City's Weller Books; now in an open letter, the store has "broken up" with Amazon division Audible, the largest player in the audiobook market, citing the company's mandatory DRM, proprietary formats, algorithmic opacity, and diversion of local book sales into the pockets of distant investors in a massive, uncaring corporation.
The Tattered Cover cites the amazing Libro.fm as the DRM-free alternative that works with bookstores, rather than against them. I'm a very happy Libro.fm user!
Don’t get me wrong, you’re impressive. I can buy almost anything from you guys. At first you were really into books, but then you took on the world, and it seems like that has worked out well for you. But over the years I’ve found myself wanting something more personal, like a local bookstore, instead of, say, a global mall. I mean, you have algorithms, Audible. Algorithms. I realize that is all fancy and technical, but you give me book recommendations based on a mathematics equation. Libro.fm provides recommendations from real, independent booksellers. Human beings.
And I couldn’t shake the fact that by buying from you, I’d be lining the pockets of a handful of wealthy people and stockholders who have, at the bottom line, no interest in supporting the community I live in. Where are they? Do they even read audiobooks? With Libro.fm, I’m able to buy audiobooks through my local bookstore. I’m supporting the business owned by people I actually know and care about. I love my community, and I want to support it.
Audible, it’s not you, it’s me. Like I said, I couldn’t expect you to be anything other than who you are. But Libro.fm gets me, so I’m going to have to say goodbye.
Dear Audible [A Bookstore Supporter/Tattered Cover]
I'm in the midst of couple of weeks' worth of lectures, public events and teaching, and you can catch me in Toronto (for Word on the Street, Seeding Utopias and Resisting Dystopias and 6 Degrees); Newry, ME (Maine Library Association) and Portland, ME (in conversation with James Patrick Kelly).
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