A Letter to Audible about DRM

I still haven't found a very convenient way to listen to Audible books.  I don't want to go out and buy a new phone or a new mp3 player just so that it will work with Audible's unnecessary restrictions.  Burning to CD's is a bad option because at a minimum of 14+ cd's per book, its just wasteful.  CDRW's are out because the cd player in my car can't read them.  Audible's software players are decent, but they are only supported on the desktop (I don't want to listen to books on my desktop) and specific devices.  I tried it for a while on a Pocket PC device that I had access to through work, and while it was fine for in the car it was too large and bulky to take running with me.  So finally I started burning the books to a set of CDRW's (which I repeatedly use just for this purpose), then I rip each of those cd's one by one, and finally I move the resulting mp3's onto my phone (for in the car) or my mp3 player (for when I go running).  Pain.  In.  The.  Butt.

So recently I tried Audible Air, Audible's java player app for mobile phones.  It isn't supported on my phone, unfortunately.  So I emailed them and got a very detailed and polite response about why Audible Air won't work on my phone (the device manufacturer has to update the firmware so that it can understand the DRM blah blah blah).  BS!

Then I saw a post on Boing Boing about how Amazon (Amazon purchased Audible early this year) said that it would not remove the DRM from Audible's audio books unless customers complained enough.  So, if you're an Audible customer (or would like to be in the future), I hope you'll take a moment to email them and share your frustration about DRM.  Here is the email I sent to audible@custhelp.com:

I hope you'll also pass along these comments about your DRM, so that things can change.  I read that Amazon plans to keep the Audible DRM unless customers complain enough.  Well, here is my argument against DRM:

You said - "The encryption is required by the publishers to insure the security of their book files..."  While this may have been true at one time, I believe this statement is now incorrect.  Random House nows allows its online retailers to sell audio books without DRM (see the following letter from Random House:  http://craphound.com/DRMLetter22108.pdf). According to one well known author/blogger (Cory Doctorow, http://www.boingboing.net/2008/02/21/random-house-audio-a.html) who ran into this problem, it is Audible itself who is placing this restriction.  Even authors who WANT their books to be without DRM cannot do so if they desire to distribute their books through Audible (there is a well known author/blogger who has had this problem in the past).

Random House is smart enough to know that pirated copies of audio books, just like music, will exist no matter what. Amazon and Audible are smart enough to know this as well, or at least they should be.  Right now, even with your DRM, I could (if I wanted to, which I don't) burn a copy of a book to a CDRW, rip the cd's to mp3's, and distribute those mp3s illegally.  I could even merge them together into one large mp3 if I wanted.  DRM doesn't stop the kind of people who do this - all it does it inconvenience good customers who just want to listen to good audio books on their devices or in their cars without having to burn 22 cds.  As it is now, in order to listen to books the way I want to, I have to burn to a CDRW, rip the cd's to mp3's and manually copy those mp3's onto my SD card for my mobile device.  Talk about a painful process.  All so that Audible and publishers can accomplish what?  Nothing. 

Then there's the issue of Audible wasting time and money struggling to keep ahead of software applications that can convert from .aa to .mp3.  Even more time and money is wasted trying to "support" x device.  You would already support my device if you just gave me mp3s instead of a DRM mess.
What keeps me from buying more audio books from Audible?  What keeps me from buying a Kindle from Amazon?  DRM, and only DRM.  I already canceled my Audible membership once out of frustration over this.  I signed up again after Amazon bought Audible hoping that things would change.  I hope I'm not wrong, and I hope it happens sooner than later.

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Print | posted on Thursday, June 5, 2008 11:33 AM


# re: A Letter to Audible about DRM

Left by Roy Osherove at 7/12/2008 4:42 PM
Gravatar Maybe this will help:

# re: A Letter to Audible about DRM

Left by David Carrington at 8/13/2008 8:17 AM
Gravatar I've also sent them an e-mail, letting them know that their DRM is the single factor that will make me cancel my subscription (currently a free trial with 2 credits).

I'm exploring methods of bypassing the DRM, probably with sound card recording or by burning the files to a virtual CD drive. I agree it's a pain!

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