Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Audiobooks in no man's land

I often listen to the podcasts of the TWIT network (This Week in Tech, www.twit.tv), most of which are sponsored by Audible.com. A few days ago, I decided to try their service (until then I bought audiobooks through iTunes). Incredibly, every single book that interested me was present when I wasn't authenticated, but disappeared when I loged in. I asked their customer service, and they explained they didn't have the rights for selling those audiobooks in Italy.Yesterday I looked for the last book, On Intelligence, and even this was not available so a decided to cancel my Audible account and also sent the mail that follows.

I don't understand the logic behind this issue, maybe someone has bought the rights for these books in Italy, but why then can I buy them in paper form Amazon.co.uk?

Digital divide? Who knows..

Dear Sirs,
I do not care if I lost 2 credits in leaving your service, but I realized it is of no use for me, every single book I wanted to buy is not available for my country, Italy. I don't have any idea of what is the sense of this since no one else provides audiobooks locally, and I'm not at all interested in translations.
To be transparent in your service, you should post a warning, upon registration for Italians (and other countries with the same restrictions), that many of the books that seem available when you are unregistered are not when you login.
It seems that most of your catalogue is cut in half as soon as one logs in.
I would also suggest that you list the books anyhow, instead of hiding them (avoiding th user to check and double check), posting a message regarding the reason it is unavailable.

If you have a chance, I suggest you to remind the rights holder who does not allow these audiobooks to be sold in my country, that this kind of barrier is an incentive to piracy.
Everyone should have the chance to buy content easily and at a reasonable price.
This does not mean that I will pirate these books.
I will only have to buy them, in paper, from Amazon (where they are available), and this makes your service useless to me.

I have put Leo Laporte and Steve Gibson in copy, since their great podcasts are the reason why I tried your service and they should be informed in case they might be interested.

Regards,

Alessandro Canepa

UPDATE (1/8/2007)
Audible's answer:
Dear Alessandro,

I understand that you have some legitimate concerns regarding the service we provide and the audio that is available in your region. I really do apologize for the inconvenience that this may have caused you in regards to this situation. I can assure you that we, audible.com, is aware of the issue that many customers like yourself are having. This is a large concerns for us and we are diligently working with our publishers to obtain the necessary rights to make all of our books available to you and other regions. Unfortunately though, this is a lengthy process that our content department must try to overcome. Your business is very important to us and we are not happy to hear that you are not satisfied with the service. I will present this email to my superiors to make them aware of the issue. In the meantime, if there is anything I can do to make your time with Audible more pleasant please let me know. Again, I do apologize for the inconvenience and I hope that you are able to use our service in the near future once we have been able to make more of the books available to you.

Sincerely,
Mauro B.
Audible Customer Support.

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