Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Amazon and audiobooks

I'm not sure where I was in January when OverDrive announced that Brilliance Audio was going to "suspend the availability of all download audiobook titles for library purchase across all vendors." I didn't notice anything until I returned from my vacation and sat down to place a hold on the next books in a couple of series that I enjoy as audio downloads.

All of the audio versions of books in several of my favorite series (the Fever and Highlander series by Karen Marie Moning, the In Death books by J.D. Robb, ANYTHING by Nora Roberts) had completely disappeared from the OverDrive systems of both my local public library and the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Why did this happen? As the article I link to above explains, Amazon owns Brilliance Audio (I did not know this). Amazon also owns Audible (I did know that).

Quite simply, Amazon doesn't want you to be able to download its content from the library because they want you to PAY to download it from them. It makes good business sense for Amazon, but it hurts the reader/listener and it hurts libraries.

This is another example of just why I dislike Amazon so much. Yes, things are better for the consumer, the indie author, etc. in the short term if they buy into Amazon's format ecosystems. But Amazon is constructing its deals in such a way that you can go through them OR you can go through everyone else, but you can't do both. What happens when they have managed to squash the competition?

What happens if our only avenue to acquire books is through Amazon?

I don't want to live in that world.

Support your local bookstores. Support indie authors who choose to e-publish through non-Kindle platforms. Buy a Nook or a Kobo or a Sony Reader or an Acer tablet, for the love of all that is good, not a Kindle. The more we buy into Amazon for some short-term convenience, the more we surrender our long-term choices.

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So, practically speaking... What am I going to do about this whole mess? 

I'm not completely sure yet. There are, of course, lots of non-Brilliance Audio audiobooks that are still available through OverDrive. I will also probably spend more time over at LibriVox, boning up on my classics. 

I don't think that I am quite prepared to give up some of the series that I am listening to and loving as audio productions. If my local library has a Brilliance Audio CD copy of a book I want, I will borrow that, though they aren't often available. I am considering subscribing to Simply Audiobooks or Audio To Go, both of which offer CD-renting services, much like the Netflix disc plan. These options would still send money to Amazon, of course, but far less than purchasing the download through Audible would. They would also keep the costs down to where I might be able to afford my audiobook habit, which without library loans could easily become an expensive one.

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