I have an Audible account and have purchased a number of audiobooks which I have enjoyed tremendously. I alternate between audiobooks and podcasts on my iPod when I am driving and when I am just taking care of arbitrary stuff at home. I decided to buy Anathem from Audible rather than buy the physical book. I seem to get through audiobooks quicker than physical books and Anathem is a really big book (the paperback runs to more than 900 pages). I went to Audible to look for the book on the site and couldn’t find it. I know it is there because I have heard Leo Laporte talk about it a number of times so I ran a Google site specific search and found it but with this little notation:
This sort of thing seems to happen fairly often with the books I look for on Audible and I believe it has to do with the book publishers themselves. I may be wrong about this but this seems to be a licensing issue. The book publishers don’t license companies like Audible the right to sell these audiobooks to people in certain countries because of the publishers’ existing distribution channels and media available in those countries.
Anyway, I thought I would look around at the options. Along the way I took a look at what iTunes charges for the Anathem audiobook and found that it charges about $42 which, at the current exchange rate is roughly R420 or so. Fair enough, the audiobook is over 32 hours long. Audible sells it for a little less, $34 for members or 2 credits, but that option isn’t available to me.
Notice the prices for the CD version of the books? I am not sure how much CDs cost but R800 for pretty much the same thing as the audiobook from Audible in a more inconvenient format?? This just reeks of profiteering and protectionism to me. Are the publishers trying to protect CD and physical book sales by preventing us from simply buying the audiobook version from Audible? It appears so. This is the kind of mentality which makes it easier for people to pirate content: stupid business models designed to maximise the publishers’ bottom line and do little to give the customer what the customer wants (in this case an audiobook version of a powerful new book at a price that isn’t prohibitive).
I wound up buying the paperback.