eMusic to offer DRM-free audiobooks

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I’m glad to see that eMusic will be offering audiobook downloads with no copy protection.

I’m not a major audiobooks listener, though we do tend to listen to them on long car trips a few times a year, and Michele likes to listen to books when she exercises. I’ve been frustrated by trying to get audio book content into the digital shape I want – which is on an iPod. Ripping CDs from the library is a royal pain because many of the audiobook CDs either aren’t in or are inconsistently coded in Gracenote, which means you have to manually edit all the track information in iTunes. The format of online audiobooks that the King County and Seattle Public libraries offer has Windows DRM encoding, which doesn’t work at all on Macs or iPods, and buying the books from iTunes at $20 or more a pop seems way out of line to me.

eMusic has been my major source of new music for a while now, and I’ve been really happy with the selection – for my eclectic taste the lack of major label content is mostly a feature rather than a bug.

This quote from the New York Times story on the new audiobooks rings true to me:

“Our customers don’t steal music,” said David Pakman, chief of eMusic, of the company’s 300,000 subscribers, who pay from $9.99 (for 30 songs) to $19.99 (for 75 songs). “A lot of them are technically sophisticated, but they’re not prone to piracy.”

I have to say that to my mind, $10 for one book a month still seems a bit pricey – I would think that they’d at least undercut the price of a paperback the market for audiobooks would really take huge leaps.

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