eMusic’s Audiobooks and Piracy

iPod Shuffle on top of a collection of Audiobooks

Back in February, Random House announced that it will allow all of its audiobooks to be sold DRM-Free. The decision came after experimenting with eMusic’s new Audiobook offerings:

For tracking purposes, we watermarked all of the eMusic files and then hired a piracy watchdog service to monitor and report back to us if any of our titles appeared on the major filesharing networks. We tracked a mix of popular titles, including some that were not available through eMusic. Because piracy is already a fact of life in the digital world, what we were interested in finding out was not whether piracy exists, but rather whether there is any correlation between DRM-free distribution and an increased incidence of piracy.
The results: we have not yet found a single instance of the eMusic watermarked titles being distributed illegally. We did find many copies of audiobook files available for free, but they did not originate from the eMusic test, but rather from copied CDs or from files whose DRM was hacked.

I think it’s awesome that DRM is on the way out, but doesn’t this say more about the adoption of eMusic’s audiobook subscriptions than it says about the origin of leaked files on crowded P2P networks?

Ever since I’ve started jogging again I’ve found podcasts and audiobooks to be an essential part of keeping up the exercise habit, so I’m interested in finding sources of new material. But eMusic’s audiobook store has the same problems as Audible with credits. iTunes audiobooks have also spoiled me through it’s one-file (or two) downloads. Some Audiobooks have 85 separate files – why?

Maybe they can be strung together with Audiobook Builder, but I thought the whole point of the digital download market was convenience – and eMusic doesn’t offer that if it means setting up a dedicated playlist for an audiobook, or buying more software just to string the files together.

2 thoughts on “eMusic’s Audiobooks and Piracy”

  1. I’ve found audiobooks on eMusic that are more than 200 individual files. A royal pain in the ass. You can merge them with Audiobook Builder easily enough, unless you want correct chapter marks, and then it’s painful to listen to the first bits of each track to find the chapter starts.<br/><br/>eMusic also doesn’t do the same quality control that Audible apparently does; in five years of being an Audible subscriber, only one book has had corrupted audio. In 6 books with eMusic, half have had corruption issues, two of them serious enough that they could not be listened to.<br/><br/>Their customer support has replied to my suggestions that they’re still in beta, so perhaps they’ll improve, but for now I highly recommend Audible.com over eMusic for audiobooks.

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