Cory Doctorow is fighting back against Amazon's Audible

(fastcompany.com)

234 points | by raybb 14 days ago

21 comments

  • hoistbypetard 14 days ago

    IMO the coolest thing about this kickstarter didn't even get a mention in the fastcompany article.

    One of the premiums is, for people who donate $10000 or more, an opportunity to commission another story set in this universe based on a mutually agreed writing prompt.

    He's offering 5 of those, and 3 have been claimed. That's brilliant.

    Think what a windfall that could be for some writers. This is the first time I've noticed anyone trying this model. It's easy to imagine that it could work well for some creators (not necessarily only writers) with a small but ardent and growing fan base.

    • aasasd 13 days ago

      That's just writing-for-commission. I think that model is quite widespread among small-scale writers, of the Tumblr sort: with fanfics and such. At least, I know that artists can rake in quite some monies if they draw in a modern web-hipster style and agree to portray someone's fantasies. Specifically porn fantasies, and more specifically furry porn fantasies.

    • Igelau 13 days ago

      > another story set in this universe based on a mutually agreed writing prompt

      I have a feeling that conversation goes something like:

      "Yeah, that's interesting and all, but I was thinking something more along the lines of a plucky tech whizkid sticking it to a surveillance state infiltrated by megacorporations. Maybe with some early 90s tech? Do we have an agreement?"

      Caveat emptor? Unless you really feel like giving him a big stack of money, which I guess is alright.

      • an_opabinia 13 days ago

        On the one hand most people are awful writers.

        On the same hand, being Cory Doctorow’s boss would be stupid. The whole point of paying him ought to be to do his thing, not yours.

        On the other hand anyone who spends $10,000 on a story should already know that. Or maybe Cory Doctorow will tell the payer.

        Not all fanfic is bad. Particularly atmospheric stuff, normal people can do quite nicely.

        • aasasd 13 days ago

          > a plucky tech whizkid sticking it to a surveillance state infiltrated by megacorporations

          I mean, that's the ‘Little Brother’ dilogy, perhaps with the exception of megacorporations.

        • ChuckMcM 14 days ago

          That is of course Cory's genius. He sees the business model in the noise.

          • Semaphor 13 days ago

            > This is the first time I've noticed anyone trying this model.

            It’s pretty common for crowdfunded video games to have anything from naming side-characters to working with writers for a complete quest line or NPC. This seems to simply introduce it to books.

            • golem14 13 days ago

              Donate ( to a charity) or pay?

          • sam_lowry_ 14 days ago

            I've long bemoaned the sorry state of English audiobooks in comparison to Russian audiobooks.

            Audiobook interpreters like Игорь Князев or Александр Клюквин are household names to Russian speakers. Can any English speaker remember the name of the interpreter of their favourite audiobook? Only when it's the author himself, I guess. And only because of the abysmal quality.

            There were once radio plays, but with the demise of radio, audio plays barely exist nowadays in English while they still strive in Russian.

            This largely due to the difference in markets. English-speaking market is dominated by corporations and is severely policed.

            Russian-speaking market is grassroots, uncensored and abundant in small producers / new names.

            P.S. Aside from the hard-to-find recordings from 1960..1990ies, French audiobooks are even worse.

            • aasasd 13 days ago

              I fell like you're kidding, since my experience is pretty much the opposite, and precisely for the reason that narrators in English are professionals. Some names: William Dufris, Wil Wheaton, Nigel Planer (namely his narrations of ‘Discworld’). Scott Brick, mentioned nearby, is good—but his narrations of Asimov have the spirit of 50s' over-the-top actors and TV announcers.

              Also narrators in the West are often voice actors by trade, or just actors of theatre and film doing voice work on the side. E.g. Steven Fry's narration of the ‘Harry Potter’ novels is gorgeous, Tim Curry's of ‘A Series Of Unfortunate Events’ is also very good, Jeremy Irons' voice and demeanor is a perfect fit for Nabokov's mood and writerly lyricism in ‘Lolita’.

              Generally, I went through quite a bunch of unknown-to-me narrators, and had few qualms—whereas in Russian it's a gamble whether a reading will be tolerable. ‘Grassroots’ narrators sometimes have quirks that they apparently consider charming, but in practice are off-putting. Or narrators break into stereotypical kitschy voices, especially with old-time material like Dostoevsky: e.g. for orthodox priest characters. Or the production is just crappy.

              Notably, best narrators in Russian seem to be either professionals hired by proper publishers, or straight up actors. Namely, Mikhail Gorevoy, Alexey Bagdasarov, Evgeny Ternovsky (Михаил Горевой, Алексей Багдасаров, Евгений Терновский). And for example, the magnificent many-voices narration of ‘The Good Soldier Švejk’ by Bagdasarov, Alexey Kortnev and others. Vladimir Samoilov's reading of ‘The Gulag Archipelago’ is incredibly good and touching on a whole different level, and he seems to be an old-time Soviet actor. Klukvin is also a treat to the ear, but again when the production quality is there, like with ‘Master and Margarita’.

              • aasasd 13 days ago

                P.S.: I actually do have a problem with “overproduction” of audiobooks in English—in that some non-fiction books, and especially self-help books, sound like caffeinated hyper-energetic breathless advertisements several hours in length. After a while, it's really annoying to hear the same bravado tone again and again. Of course, the source writing contributes to this: I'd like to hear someone attempt to read Nabokov or Vonnegut in this manner.

                A notable counterexample is Marshall Rosenberg's reading of his own ‘Nonviolent Communication’—regardless of the book's merit, his gentle and melancholy speech is a welcome break from the ‘in your face’ attitude tiring out my ears.

                • ycombinete 13 days ago

                  After listening to Rob Inglis narrate Lord of the Rings, and The Hobbit, everyone else pales in comparison. Aside from Kenneth Brannagh's Heart of Darkness.

                  Fry's reading was good, but he's got nothing on either of them. It was also inconsistent. There's even a passage in book three where he appears to give Hagrid Hermione's voice. On top of that the voices he gave to women in general, were too shrill for my liking.

                  • Sophistifunk 13 days ago

                    > but his narrations of Asimov have the spirit of 50s' over-the-top actors and TV announcers

                    This sounds magnificent, and definitely the way I want to listen to Asimov.

                    • aasasd 13 days ago

                      It seems I was mistaken, rechecked my notes now: it was Larry McKeever's narration of Asimov that I listened to, and which definitely sounds like it was recorded in the 80s (Goodreads says that I guessed the decade right).

                      McKeever apparently was no small name too: “was an actor, narrator, and recording artist. He narrated hundreds of books. For more than 15 years, he contributed monthly to Braille Monitor, the leading publication of the National Federation of the Blind, and became known as the “voice of the blind.”

                  • Mediterraneo10 14 days ago

                    > Can any English speaker remember the name of the interpreter of their favourite audiobook?

                    Loads of audiobooks of bestsellers in English are narrated by big-name actors. Often ones who also do a lot of theatre and bring that dramatic flair to their readings. Look at the Chronicles of Narnia, for instance: its narrators are Kenneth Branagh, Alex Jennings, Michael York, Lynn Redgrave, Derek Jacobi, Jeremy Northam and Patrick Stewart, all known from stage and screen for their powerful voices.

                    • abruzzi 13 days ago

                      Even the ones that aren't are frequently well know. I haven't consumed audiobooks since before Amazon bought Audible, but my father and his wife consume them avidly, and they know the names of their favorite readers, and will frequently listen to books by their favorite readers where they don't know the author at all, just because they like the reader.

                    • Zelphyr 13 days ago

                      Roy Dotrice did, for the most part, a superb job of narrating the Song of Ice and Fire series (Game of Thrones). So much so that when he wasn't available to narrate A Feast for Crows, the publisher replaced him with John Lee who was so completely the wrong choice that the publisher relented to fan requests and had Roy Dotrice re-record the book.

                      It's a shame he won't be around to finish narrating the series. Then again, at the rate George R. R. Martin is going, neither will he be around to finish writing them.

                      • vkou 13 days ago

                        I have never listened to the John Lee version, but Dotrice's Essos accents (Missundlei, 'Kuressy') were cringe-inducing, as was his take on 'Brayinne", and "Pee-tyre" Baelish. In the first two books, it also seemed like none of his characters could agree on how to pronounce Jeffry's name.

                        In books 4 and 5, his voices for established characters, like Arya and Tyrion also went off the rails pretty frequently.

                        • retox 13 days ago

                          This was very jarring going immediately from one book he narrated to one where he didn't. All the character voices I'd come to recognize were completely different (obviously) and I very quickly lost interest after struggling to follow along. I didn't know he re-recorded the later books, thanks for letting us know.

                          • dtparr 13 days ago

                            Unfortunately, Dotrice's recordings of the later books diverge so significantly from the first set that it's almost worse than a different person altogether. Character voices are drastically different, names are pronounced differently, etc.

                            • Zelphyr 13 days ago

                              This is true. He was quite along in age by that point and was clearly having trouble. I'm sure it didn't help that he recorded A Feast for Crows at the same time as A Dance With Dragons and was probably pretty tired. I believe he set a world record for those sessions.

                              Still, even in his advanced age by that point he was better than John Lee, in my opinion.

                        • subpixel 13 days ago

                          “ audio plays barely exist nowadays in English”

                          The BBC Radio iPlayer app I use almost daily is full of radio plays. It’s definitely a British thing.

                          • StevePerkins 13 days ago

                            Mark Boyett is one of Audible's in-house regulars. I've bought many an audiobook simply because he was performing it.

                            In terms of "celebrity" narrators (other than those named Wil Whedon)... I enjoy James Marsters (Spike from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer")'s work on the Dresden Files series. I would listen to pretty much any book those two performed.

                            • TylerE 14 days ago

                              There are absolutely "name" audio book recorders in English.

                              Scott Brick being the most well known, probably, although there are several others.

                              • cpeterso 14 days ago

                                John Lee is another popular audio book narrator.

                                • sam_lowry_ 14 days ago

                                  Thanks for the hint, Scott Brick is gorgeous, indeed.

                                  • abnry 13 days ago

                                    Glad he floats your boat, but I jokingly call him my audiobook nemesis, as he narrates many books I am interested in, and can't really listen to him anymore.

                                    • TylerE 13 days ago

                                      Yeah I’m not really a fan either. He’s kinda monotone.

                                • vertis 13 days ago

                                  I have to agree with my sibling post. I seek out narrators like Wil Wheaton, Ray Porter and Luke Daniels. I will often look at the other work that a narrator has done in the hopes that it will be worth considering.

                                  There are also excellent cast based readings, like Cory Doctorow's last novel Walkaway (which had among other people Amanda Palmer in it).

                                  There are also some excellent cast based reading Audible. American Gods comes to mind.

                                  • brandoncordell 13 days ago

                                    Michael Kramer and Kate Reading (husband and wife team) are some of the best fantasy narrators available (in my opinion). I would pick up a book I've never even heard of if they're attached to the narration.

                                    • gbourne1 13 days ago

                                      I’m listening to Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson right now, read by them. They are fantastic.

                                      • gtr 13 days ago

                                        I am listening to The Path of Kings, I was put off by the length at first, but now I can't put it down. They are such good narrators.

                                    • philsnow 13 days ago

                                      > Can any English speaker remember the name of the interpreter of their favourite audiobook?

                                      Rob Inglis for Lord of the Rings

                                      • hirundo 13 days ago

                                        Patrick Tull, Aubrey/Maturin series. Stefan Rudnicki, scads of books.

                                        • ycombinete 13 days ago

                                          And The Hobbit! After listening to Rob Inglis, I'm honestly often embarrased for other narrators when I listen to them.

                                        • mrkstu 14 days ago

                                          Will Wheaton, James Marsters, Bronson Pinchot, Michael Kramer and Kate Reading are all excellent narrators.

                                          • jscholes 13 days ago

                                            > Can any English speaker remember the name of the interpreter of their favourite audiobook?

                                            I can, but that's probably because I partially rely on audiobooks (in addition to eBooks with text-to-speech) because of blindness.

                                            > There were once radio plays, but with the demise of radio, audio plays barely exist nowadays in English

                                            Agreed that unfortunately, the amount of radio plays being produced has dramatically decreased (excuse the pun). But I mostly notice this in English speaking nations other than the United Kingdom like Canada and the US. In the UK, radio drama is still very much alive, with the BBC and third parties like Big Finish producing a ton of great content.

                                            • Igelau 13 days ago

                                              What a wacky, backhanded way to ask for some audiobook recommendations; like the humblebrag that puts a thin veneer of self-deprecation over a boast, but with the tables turned by asking for more of something by bemoaning the present inadequacy of the very thing.

                                              I'll take the bait of your disdainquiry though. Richard Poe's reading of "Blood Meridian" is a masterpiece.

                                              • brendoelfrendo 13 days ago

                                                >>Can any English speaker remember the name of the interpreter of their favourite audiobook?

                                                Tim Gerard Reynolds and Moira Quirk have done really good work and I'm more likely to buy books that have their names attached. Some other commenters have mentioned other favorite narrator's of mine as well, so yes, this English speaker can.

                                                • Wowfunhappy 14 days ago

                                                  My favorite audiobook, The Golden Compass, does so happen to be narrated by the author (with a full cast of different actors reading dialogue), but Michael Kramer is my favorite single-narrator, and I do remember his name.

                                                  • irrational 13 days ago

                                                    By interpreter, do you mean narrator (the person that reads the book)? If so, then yes, many people know the name of certain narrators. For instance, I will listen to any audiobook narrated by Jim Dale.

                                                    • technofiend 14 days ago

                                                      I defer to your expertise on Russian audiobooks, but present as a counter-example that at least in the litrpg subgenre of Fantasy there are well known voice actors making audio books. Here's an old reddit thread on the subject: https://www.reddit.com/r/litrpg/comments/8yr36z/best_audiobo...

                                                      • ponker 13 days ago

                                                        You might not be listening to the best English audiobooks (that's distinct from the audiobook versions of the best books). They are exceptionally good. If Russian audiobook narrators are "household names" perhaps it's because reading/listening to audiobooks is more popular in Russia than in the US, but that has no impact on the quality of English audiobooks.

                                                        • phillc73 13 days ago

                                                          > Can any English speaker remember the name of the interpreter of their favourite audiobook?

                                                          I can't really say it's my favourite audiobook series, but the one I seem to be listening to relentlessly is Winnie the Pooh. The version I have is narrated by Dame Judi Dench, and the characters read by well known actors such as Stephen Fry, Geoffrey Palmer and Sandi Toksvig.

                                                          • jasonlotito 13 days ago

                                                            Michael Kramer, Kate Redding, Ray Porter, and John Lee are narrators I've grown to love. I've followed them to other books they've done, discovering new authors. The mere fact that an author has them doing the narration is a big bonus for me.

                                                            • gcapell 13 days ago

                                                              > Can any English speaker remember the name of the interpreter of their favourite audiobook?

                                                              Anne Hathaway for Wizard of Oz, David Tennant for How to Train Your Dragon, James Marsters for Dresden Files are all _amazing_.

                                                              • murphyslab 14 days ago

                                                                I'll never forget listening to Jim Dale narrate the Harry Potter books.

                                                                • myself248 13 days ago

                                                                  Hah, I was just about to post this. (And, yeah, I'm not wild about his Hermione either, but everything else is alright.)

                                                                  We refer to him by name, it's not "Hey, you wanna pick up where we left off in Chamber of Secrets?", it's "Grab a snack and let's enjoy some Jim Dale, shall we?"

                                                                  • ses1984 13 days ago

                                                                    I can't stand his Hermione voice.

                                                                  • mdoms 14 days ago

                                                                    There are lots of well-known people who narrate audio books. I have listened to books narrated by Hugh Laurie, a household name by any definition of the term.

                                                                    • thom 13 days ago

                                                                      I actively pick audiobooks based on the narrator (for example Peter Kenny who read the Culture books), and will avoid ones with bad narrators.

                                                                      • afiori 13 days ago

                                                                        not really addressing your point... but I am really liking the English audiobooks of the Monogatari Serie (if someone wants to start I suggest listening to Kizumonogatari first).

                                                                        the style is that of a light novel, so much more adapt to narration and internal monologues and even leitmotifs for supporting cast voices

                                                                      • riffnote 14 days ago

                                                                        I'll take this opportunity to recommend Downpour, an Audible alternative I use. No DRM, you can download your audiobooks in mp3 format: https://downpour.com

                                                                        • elFarto 14 days ago

                                                                          The DRM on the Audible downloads is so easy to remove, then you can have it in whatever format you want:

                                                                             ffmpeg -activation_bytes <your magic bytes> -i inputfile.aax -vn -c:a copy output.m4a
                                                                          
                                                                          You'll need to search around for how to find out your magic bytes, but it's not difficult.
                                                                          • kick 14 days ago

                                                                            Congratulations, you've committed a felony. That's what Doctorow's protesting: that Amazon forces you to commit a felony to do something as basic as changing a file format. He points this out in his Kickstarter:

                                                                            What's more, Audible won't allow you to sell your audiobooks through their store unless you allow them to wrap your books in their DRM, which cannot be removed without committing a felony under Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Every audiobook you buy from Audible is locked to Amazon's platform...forever. They can revoke access to the book (they've done this with Kindle ebooks, starting with -- I shit you not -- George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four... You can't make this stuff up!).

                                                                            • m463 13 days ago

                                                                              It kind of depends on the location of the commenter.

                                                                              He could live in a country without those pesky US laws or be posting from international waters.

                                                                              • tgsovlerkhgsel 13 days ago

                                                                                Due to the insane reach of the US and the political pressure they put on other countries, I suspect there are few countries where this specific pesky law doesn't exist.

                                                                                • bad_user 13 days ago

                                                                                  It’s a felony in Europe too.

                                                                                  • DanBC 13 days ago

                                                                                    No.

                                                                                    In the UK it's only a criminal offence if it's done as part of business, or you do it so much you prejudicially affect the rights holders. This is why eg people who buy a DVD player can change it to region free mode (they're not committing a criminal offence) but the shop who sells the player to you can't tell you how to do it (they would be committing a criminal offence).

                                                                                    Read "F2296 Devices designed to circumvent copy-protection" and "F4296ZA Circumvention of technological measures", and contrast those with "296ZBDevices and services designed to circumvent technological measures".

                                                                                    https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/48/part/VII/crossh...

                                                                                    • selfhoster11 13 days ago

                                                                                      There is no such thing as a "felony" in Europe. Besides, not all European countries are part of the EU, so they wouldn't share the same legal framework.

                                                                                • mxuribe 14 days ago

                                                                                  But i guess the point is that it sorta sucks that such a thing even has to be done/considered, right? I happily pay an author for their work, but dislike drm and other similar controls.

                                                                                  • Wowfunhappy 13 days ago

                                                                                    This is what I do when there's an Audible exclusive I want, and I'm glad it's so easy. But, when a majority of audiobooks are so readily-available from actual DRM Free retailers (libro.fm, Downpour.com, Google Play), I don't see why I should buy DRM'd copies from Audible.

                                                                                  • biot 13 days ago

                                                                                    Are there any audiobook subscription services which aren't purchase-oriented but work more like Spotify or Apple Music? Just as I don't want to purchase individual albums or songs, I also don't want to purchase one single audiobook per month that I'm only likely to listen to a single time and then never again. I'd rather pay a monthly subscription (even if it's a bit more) and have the freedom to not worry about any purchase.

                                                                                    • armenarmen 13 days ago

                                                                                      Scribd, sort of. Smaller selection, and they limit the number of books you can listen to (Charles proxy can get around this) and it's $8.99/m

                                                                                      • elcritch 13 days ago

                                                                                        Audible has actually been adding that recently. I’ve listened to a few of their "included" titles and enjoyed it.

                                                                                        • aasasd 13 days ago

                                                                                          Yeah, Audible seems to be the definitive audiobooks-by-subscription service, and I'm pretty sure they were that way for years: I think even the price was the same at least since 2016 (dunno about earlier).

                                                                                      • abawany 13 days ago

                                                                                        Thank you for that recommendation - I am now a customer: the membership price was cheaper than Audible and the selection looks great so far.

                                                                                        • mxuribe 14 days ago

                                                                                          This is like the third (maybe fourth) mention that i've heard regarding downpour (not only within hacker news). I guess i'll have to check them out; thanks for sharing!

                                                                                        • edanm 13 days ago

                                                                                          Honestly, I respect Cory Doctorow for sticking to his principles and doing something that is sure to hurt financially. Unfortunately, like many other people, I only ever listen to audiobooks on Audible, and if something isn't there - I won't listen to it. This is rare enough that it almost never happens - and my list of books to read is long enough that I will never ever run out of things I want to read.

                                                                                          I've actually never read Cory Doctorow's books (yet!), so I'm obviously not the people he imagines as the prime market for this in any case.

                                                                                          • mjburgess 13 days ago

                                                                                            It's not clear to me that this is "sure to hurt".

                                                                                            Whilst dressed up in the language of principle it is, in economic terms, just another creative whose reputation provides for a "pre-sold" market he is able to exploit for greater personal profit.

                                                                                            Pretty standard: Louis CK was the first mover in comedy on this; pop artists are following.

                                                                                            The "basic internet" works extremely well as a dumb & free distribution channel if you don't need to build an audience.

                                                                                            I'm not saying Cory is insincere, but I am unconvinced his sincerity would hold were he a budding author. On the surface at least, it just reads like yet another artist hamstrung by their distributor whose reputation has superseded their need.

                                                                                            If one were to be even more cynical, as Cory himself admits, you could see the whole anti-amazon complaint as a mere marketing tactic. It is, in any case, /why/ this has succeeded and why we are talking about it.

                                                                                            • webmaven 12 days ago

                                                                                              > I'm not saying Cory is insincere, but I am unconvinced his sincerity would hold were he a budding author. On the surface at least, it just reads like yet another artist hamstrung by their distributor whose reputation has superseded their need.

                                                                                              Umm... Cory has been doing this sort of thing (such as releasing his novels as gratis+libre ebooks in multiple formats) from the very beginning (2003), eg.:

                                                                                              https://craphound.com/down/download/

                                                                                              You can find them freely (and legally) distributed by various 3rd parties:

                                                                                              http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/author/3826

                                                                                              https://manybooks.net/authors/doctorow.html

                                                                                              http://www.feedbooks.com/author/93

                                                                                              • mjburgess 12 days ago

                                                                                                You might find this a bit dismissive/cynical but i wonder whether that early phase can be explained also.

                                                                                                There's two relevant strategies to an audience/market here: "open source" (/esteem/reputation) and "taste-maker"/brand/distributor.

                                                                                                The free-to-read reputation-led strategy does not earn you anything in the early phase -- so you have to have a job elsewhere. But you build esteem/reputation more easily: more readers. If you do that well, you reap the rewards later by by-passing the taste-maker channels.

                                                                                                This requires early-career funding from elsewhere. If you cannot get that funding you need to rely on distributors to earn anything at all.

                                                                                                /Therefore/ I wonder whether this reputation-led anti-tastemaker ethos really is just selecting for wealth (of one kind or another).

                                                                                                If so, yes Cory isn't a mere opportunist, sure. But his position seems to presuppose early-career privileges others do not have: in this sense he was never a "budding author" as I meantt it.

                                                                                                My point was that as a person starting out /and relying on distributors for income/ you cannot really have this view.

                                                                                                • webmaven 12 days ago

                                                                                                  No "budding author" relies on their income from writing at the very beginning, since it is approximately zero, usually requiring a day job, but sure, independent wealth (or a nest-egg, or a supportive spouse, or some source of passive income) makes the transition to writing full time easier, assuming it can be done at all. The same can be (and has been) said of founding a startup, or getting an advanced degree.

                                                                                            • dannyr 13 days ago

                                                                                              You are basically Amazon's ideal and loyal customer! Only consume things within Amazon's world.

                                                                                              Fortunately, Cory Doctorow is an esteemed author that has enough avid fans who would buy his content even though it's not on Amazon.

                                                                                              • edanm 13 days ago

                                                                                                Why yes I am! I am a big fan of Amazon, or at the very least Audible. It has made my life much better, and in my experience they treat their customers very well.

                                                                                                Of course I'm always happy when there's more competition :)

                                                                                              • satvikpendem 13 days ago

                                                                                                Interesting. I download all my audiobooks because I don't like Audible's player.

                                                                                                • edanm 13 days ago

                                                                                                  Really? Interesting.

                                                                                                  What don't you like about Audible's player? And what player do you use instead?

                                                                                                  • satvikpendem 13 days ago

                                                                                                    I use Voice Audiobook Player (actually a forked version) on Android because I can just load in audio files and play them, I don't have to deal with DRM or anything. I like it because it can go to 4x speed (with the forked version), most players only go to 2 or at most 3x.

                                                                                              • Red_Leaves_Flyy 14 days ago

                                                                                                The kick stater campaign is here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/doctorow/attack-surface...

                                                                                                I'm very curious to know what the original ending of little brother was. Sad to say it's sold out, and even if it weren't, I don't have 1k to find out. I hope we can all find out eventually.

                                                                                                • kkdsafjid 13 days ago

                                                                                                  Shouldn't it be available as a free download somewhere?

                                                                                                  • e12e 13 days ago

                                                                                                    Seems unlikely - at least until someone receives via the KS and scans it:

                                                                                                    > The first draft of Little Brother had a VERY different ending. No one except my editor and my agent have even seen it. I will hand-copy it for you in my atrocious handwriting and mail it to you to use as you see fit.

                                                                                                    • kkdsafjid 12 days ago

                                                                                                      Ah didn't know that story, thought it was just about the first book.

                                                                                                • rrauenza 13 days ago

                                                                                                  I'm confused and haven't found an answer in the comments yet -- he won't release the audiobook on Amazon because of DRM -- but he is releasing the ebook on Amazon? Isn't that also DRM?

                                                                                                  Is he just picking his battles one by one? Or is somehow the Amazon ebook DRM acceptable whereas the audio isn't?

                                                                                                  (Genuinely curious...)

                                                                                                  • trissylegs 13 days ago

                                                                                                    > For traditional e-books, Amazon lets publishers offering titles on Kindle decide whether or not to include DRM.

                                                                                                    • frio 13 days ago

                                                                                                      You can sell DRM free ebooks on Amazon.

                                                                                                      • kikokikokiko 13 days ago

                                                                                                        He's just using this gimmick to draw attention, and it worked.

                                                                                                      • TekMol 14 days ago

                                                                                                        Speaking of audiobooks ..

                                                                                                        Is there a good place to buy audiobooks as simple MP3s?

                                                                                                        • Wowfunhappy 14 days ago

                                                                                                          Yes there is! My go-to's at the moment are libro.fm and downpour.com.

                                                                                                          Google Play also offers downloads but it tends to be more expensive, assuming you're making use of Libro and Downpour's credit system.

                                                                                                          • TekMol 13 days ago

                                                                                                            I looked at libro.fm now, but I don't understand what I get if I buy an "Audiobook" over there. The word "mp3" seems to appear nowhere on the site.

                                                                                                            The situation is similar, though slightly better on downpour.com. At least they say "digital download". But not what you can download after you buy. They mention mp3s on their FAQ page. So it might be worth a try. But I would feel more comfortable if I really knew what I buy before I buy.

                                                                                                            • Wowfunhappy 13 days ago

                                                                                                              Libro.fm gives you a .zip containing MP3 files.

                                                                                                              Downpour lets you choose between an .m4b (an Apple format using aac audio, basically an mp4) and .mp3's.

                                                                                                              Both websites say explicitly in the FAQ that all downloads are DRM-Free, although libro.fm makes a bigger deal out of it. If there's a screenshot or something that would make you feel more comfortable about what you're getting, let me know...

                                                                                                        • forbiddenvoid 14 days ago

                                                                                                          I understand the issues with DRM. I respect Cory's position.

                                                                                                          But honestly, Audible is how I listen to audiobooks. If it's not there, I'm not going to buy it. I've pretty much transitioned all of my casual, entertainment reading to audio (still using physical/digital for more technical reading).

                                                                                                          • CobrastanJorji 14 days ago

                                                                                                            This feels like what Gabe Newell said about piracy. For most people, piracy is not a pricing problem, and DRM is not an ethics problem. In both cases, they are service problems. If DRM is keeping consumers from using their audiobook in some device of their choosing, they'll go out of your way to get a DRM-free copy. But if the DRM is sufficiently universal that they don't notice it's there, why would they care?

                                                                                                            • ericd 13 days ago

                                                                                                              It's a corner case, but most concretely for me, losing access to the account I had ~30 audible books downloaded on was very annoying. It really hit home the idea that I didn't own the books I'd paid for.

                                                                                                              • input_sh 13 days ago

                                                                                                                Precisely why I download and strip DRM off of any ebook/audiobook I purchase, even if I do end up reading/listening to the DRM version.

                                                                                                            • abnry 13 days ago

                                                                                                              With the member deals, Audible is cheap, and I treat audiobooks as a transient form of amusement and edutainment. They have a generous return policy. The membership is even better now with access to a library of audiobooks. The value I've received so far has been well worth the chunk of change I've forked over even if I lose my library due to Audible shenanigans.

                                                                                                              Of all companies, I think Audible treats its customers well.

                                                                                                              • danShumway 14 days ago

                                                                                                                Does Audible not allow you to import books from other services? I don't understand why you would need to buy your books from Audible unless they've got some kind of weird, arbitrary policy about not playing nicely with anybody else.

                                                                                                                • mdoms 14 days ago

                                                                                                                  I can't speak for Audible, but I have recently started buying my e-books from Kobo instead of Amazon (because really FUCK Amazon) and thanks to crappy restrictions on both ends my books don't work on my Kindle. It's maddening.

                                                                                                                  • abawany 13 days ago

                                                                                                                    There are a few ways to convert epubs to mobi but they are elaborate. I have never bought a Kindle for this reason: Kobo devices tend to be nice and open and they accept external/drm-free epubs/pdfs.

                                                                                                                    • danShumway 13 days ago

                                                                                                                      Wait, does Kindle seriously still not support Epub? That's wild.

                                                                                                                      The only reason I can think of for why an ereader wouldn't at least support importing from an open standard is so Amazon can make sure that you'll never buy books from anyone else.

                                                                                                                      • easton 13 days ago

                                                                                                                        The reason it doesn’t bother anyone Is that the conversion is mindless. Calibre automatically converts when you send books to your Kindle.

                                                                                                                        • webmaven 12 days ago

                                                                                                                          > The reason it doesn’t bother anyone Is that the conversion is mindless. Calibre automatically converts when you send books to your Kindle.

                                                                                                                          FWIW, it bothers me, but largely for pragmatic reasons: Unless I routinely delete the automatically converted .mobi files, the size of my ebook library would more than double (.epub files are somewhat smaller than .mobi).

                                                                                                                          The practical difference between regularly syncing and backing up a multi-Gigabyte library and one that has twice as many files and is >2x larger is pretty significant.

                                                                                                                          And since I'm not keeping the .mobi files around, the conversion has to be done again every time I copy the book to my Kindle (for example, to re-read it), and the extra delay, particularly when transferring several ebooks, is rather annoying.

                                                                                                                • samschooler 14 days ago

                                                                                                                  You should check out Libby if you haven't already. It allows you to checkout audiobooks from your local library for free! I've transitions pretty much all of my book consumption to this

                                                                                                                  https://www.overdrive.com/apps/libby/

                                                                                                                  • abnry 13 days ago

                                                                                                                    In my experience, the audio quality of OverDrive audiobooks is poor, almost to the extent that I can't listen to them. I don't know if it is because I never figured out the right setting (I don't think so) but I prefer Audible.

                                                                                                                    • efreak 14 days ago

                                                                                                                      Libby is overdrive, which means one of several platforms that includes Amazon.

                                                                                                                    • sam_lowry_ 14 days ago

                                                                                                                      Moreover, the quality of Audible interpretations is rarely good. Once in a while, they drag you into dirty schemes, like interpreting only a portion of book, but selling it nevertheless (I am looking at you, Bruce Schneier, and your Data and Goliath so called audiobook).

                                                                                                                      • Jtsummers 14 days ago

                                                                                                                        Don't they mark books as abridged or unabridged?

                                                                                                                        • sam_lowry_ 14 days ago

                                                                                                                          This one was not abridged, recording stopped at something like 30%. I am sure there was some fine print that said it, but well.

                                                                                                                          • RandallBrown 13 days ago

                                                                                                                            The file just stopped playing at 30%? Did you try redownloading the file?

                                                                                                                            Looking at the reviews for the book on Audible, I'm not seeing anyone complaining about a shortened recording.

                                                                                                                            • Jtsummers 14 days ago

                                                                                                                              Ouch, that sucks. I've specifically looked for "unabridged" content when I have bought things on Audible (I rarely do, preferring physical books, but audiobooks are starting to become part of my commute) and so far haven't run into that, but I have a couple that I haven't started listening to yet. I'll have to pay more attention in the future.

                                                                                                                              • webmaven 12 days ago

                                                                                                                                > This one was not abridged, recording stopped at something like 30%. I am sure there was some fine print that said it, but well.

                                                                                                                                That sounds like a sample of the book.

                                                                                                                          • kick 14 days ago

                                                                                                                            What was the point of this comment? You listen using a service that abuses its users and you want everyone to know it, sure, but...there's literally no substance to the comment. It's pure fluff. You didn't even explain why or give any reasoning whatsoever. Just, "I do [thing]."

                                                                                                                            • TylerE 14 days ago

                                                                                                                              If the way Audible treats me is abuse, I can only say I wish more companies were abusive.

                                                                                                                              It is absolutely frictionless and cheaper than competing services.

                                                                                                                              All my titles are available on all my devices, and progress syncs perfectly.

                                                                                                                              As a consumer, it is far far easier and more convenient than having to manually download mp3s off a shared drive or something, never mind the issue of how you sync progress.

                                                                                                                              • Jtsummers 14 days ago

                                                                                                                                This gets to one of the main issues. Opponents of DRM need an equivalent service (ubiquity of apps for listening, reliability of progress syncing, discoverability of new content) and they need to market it. Audible has become synonymous with audiobooks for many people, so alternate services need better marketing to reach those consumers.

                                                                                                                              • chrisseaton 14 days ago

                                                                                                                                > You listen using a service that abuses its users

                                                                                                                                It doesn't abuse me. It makes my life net better than it was before I used it.

                                                                                                                                This is a really important point for you - many people value what they practically get from a service - not abstract concepts of freedom.

                                                                                                                                What I care about is getting to listen to the book. I don't care about your DRM problems. I don't care about file formats. I care about the words that the author wrote going into my head. That's what I came for. If they give me that I'm a happy customer.

                                                                                                                                • bo1024 13 days ago
                                                                                                                                  • kick 14 days ago

                                                                                                                                    I wasn't commenting on that, I frankly don't care if you think a service that gives people felonies (Doctorow's main complaint) is abusive: I know it is, and your lazy argument about convenience isn't going to change that. This person wasn't commenting about whether or not it was abusive, however: they weren't commenting about anything.

                                                                                                                                    My comment was asking why 'forbiddenvoid wrote his comment, which literally contributed nothing at all to the discussion. It's pure fluff. It took no stance, and literally made no statement beyond "I use the most popular platform to listen to my ebooks." Completely void of substance in any way possible.

                                                                                                                                    • chrisseaton 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                      > which literally contributed nothing at all to the discussion

                                                                                                                                      They contributed the same thought as I expanded on - what they care about is the book, not technical issues. That’s a useful thing to comment because it’s what 99% of people care about.

                                                                                                                                      • kick 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                        They didn't contribute a thought, though.

                                                                                                                                  • renewiltord 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                    To signal to creators where the spenders are.

                                                                                                                                • 4AoZqrH2fsk5UB 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                  I would like to point out that there is a thriving torrent scene for ebooks and audiobooks.

                                                                                                                                • aasasd 14 days ago

                                                                                                                                  Dunno how I'm expected to read that article while a jumpy vid is playing next to it on the right, being nailed to the screen despite my scrolling, and a keyboard-focus-stealing popup opens on the left, covering the content.

                                                                                                                                  Regarding Doctorow, afaik he took the Audible-avoiding course years ago, negotiating with his publisher that the audiobooks are to not have DRM. I went through his books in 2018, so the story must be at least that old.

                                                                                                                                  • dcow 14 days ago

                                                                                                                                    Does your browser have a reader mode? Firefox and Safari do and it works wonderfully. I use it all the time in situations like this.

                                                                                                                                  • teekert 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                    I've been bitten by DRM and I know people that have lost music they paid for because of it. I once ran into a DRMed version of Little Brother, reported it and got a personal response from Cory. I think that is pretty cool. He's definitely one of my heroes and I love to support these kind of initiatives.

                                                                                                                                    • bawana 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                      So when is the app coming out that reads the epub of my choice in the natural voice of the narrator I like? You cant tell me that Google didn't already show this a couple of years ago - it was making restaurant reservations back then.

                                                                                                                                      • chrisseaton 14 days ago

                                                                                                                                        > to sidestep the walled garden of Amazon-owned audiobook platform Audible

                                                                                                                                        Aren't all stores a 'walled garden'? They decide what they want to sell. Curation. Seems completely reasonable to me?

                                                                                                                                        > Instead, Doctorow is selling the recorded version of the book through a Kickstarter campaign, and it will also be available through non-Amazon vendors like Google’s Play store and libro.fm

                                                                                                                                        So there's multiple competing options he can already use? What on earth is the problem here?

                                                                                                                                        • tom_mellior 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                          > So there's multiple competing options he can already use? What on earth is the problem here?

                                                                                                                                          The problem is scale: "... if you don’t sell on Audible, you sacrifice about 95% of that income. That’s a decision I’ve made, and it means that publishers are no longer willing to pay for my audiobook rights (who can blame them?). According to my agent, living my principles this way has cost me enough to have paid off my mortgage and maybe funding my retirement. I’ve tried a lot of tactics to get around Audible; selling through the indies (libro.fm, downpour.com, etc), through Google Play, and through my own shop (craphound.com/shop). I appreciate the support there but it’s a tiny fraction of what I’m giving up ..."

                                                                                                                                          https://craphound.com/news/2020/09/08/my-first-ever-kickstar...

                                                                                                                                          • chrisseaton 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                            > if you don’t sell on Audible, you sacrifice about 95% of that income

                                                                                                                                            Can we rephrase that as:

                                                                                                                                            > if you don’t sell in the way that 95% of customers want to buy, you sacrifice about 95% of that income

                                                                                                                                            Then it seems obvious what the problem is?

                                                                                                                                            • webmaven 12 days ago

                                                                                                                                              > > if you don’t sell on Audible, you sacrifice about 95% of that income

                                                                                                                                              > Can we rephrase that as:

                                                                                                                                              > > if you don’t sell in the way that 95% of customers want to buy, you sacrifice about 95% of that income

                                                                                                                                              > Then it seems obvious what the problem is?

                                                                                                                                              Yes. The problem is that the distribution channel that owns 95% of the market (by most definitions a monopoly) is forcing publishers to use DRM even if they (or the authors) don't want it, locking in users to the distribution channel's platform.

                                                                                                                                              Now, sometimes lock-in is a side effect of some feature or attribute that is at least ostensibly user-focused (eg. network effects: you're locked into a social network because all your friends are there, and getting your personal data out doesn't help with that), but DRM doesn't fit into that bucket. All else being equal, no user actually prefers content that they can enjoy in limited ways, for less time, on fewer of their devices, with less forward compatibility and future-proofing, etc.

                                                                                                                                              During the '90s the cargo-cult argument that DRM was necessary to convince content owners worried about piracy to allow their albums/movies/books to be distributed in new digital formats and channels in the first place could still be made with a straight face, but that isn't really the case any longer.

                                                                                                                                          • choward 14 days ago

                                                                                                                                            > Aren't all stores a 'walled garden'?

                                                                                                                                            I'd call them "gardens". I'd called them "walled" if they use DRM and force you to consume it in their garden.

                                                                                                                                            • valuearb 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                              If DRM enables more authors to earn reasonable amounts from their Audiobooks, isn’t that a good thing? The world in which your life’s work can easily be duplicated millions of times isn’t necessarily conducive to the creation of new art.

                                                                                                                                              • LanceH 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                                The complaint about DRM is that a company may suddenly stop supporting your license for the book. You don't own anything and are dependent on their goodwill.

                                                                                                                                                And to be clear, there are numerous ways short of Amazon going under that could result in a reader/listener no longer having access to their content. Say your phone provider stops allowing the Audible app on your phone, you can no longer use your content.

                                                                                                                                                To many, once a book is purchased, they should be able to enjoy it the way they want and DRM either prevents that or threatens to prevent that for your entire library. You can expect that as a user you'll have little to no recourse should that happen.

                                                                                                                                                There is also the discontent that DRM isn't necessarily being used to ensure payment, but being used to gouge the buyers. Less so than it was, but a lot of ebooks were costing more than their physical counterparts because there was no used/library channel for competition.

                                                                                                                                                • Noos 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                                  Well, that's the side effect of having the increased convenience and often dirt cheap prices the kindle ebook ecosystem gives. If you don't like it do what some of us do and just buy physical media.

                                                                                                                                                  • input_sh 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                                    I don't buy the "Kindle is cheaper argument". I have both a Paperwhite and a Kobo reader (as well as a way of stripping DRM off of both), so I usually look up the prices on both before purchase.

                                                                                                                                                    I'd say it's 30% chance of an ebook being cheaper on Kobo, 30% chance of an ebook being cheaper on Kindle, and 40% chance of the price being the same on both. I only remember one example of an ebook being absurdly cheaper on Kindle (like $10 compared to >$20), everything else deviates by like a dollar or two one side or the other.

                                                                                                                                                • samatman 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                                  Is there so much as a single example of DRM preventing dishonest or amoral actors from accessing content?

                                                                                                                                                  If it's digital, it can be copied. With audio, the analogue loophole (record the output off an aux cable, re-digitize) is trivial, and any loss of fidelity won't be noticed.

                                                                                                                                                  So your "if" is kind of bootless here. Audible's platform, convenience, and the desire to do the right thing and reward creators, is the "good thing", and DRM is a paranoid annoyance.

                                                                                                                                                  This is the world in which, if your life's work is an audio file, it can easily be duplicated millions of times. It's as conducive to the creation of new art as any such world would be.

                                                                                                                                                • chrisseaton 14 days ago

                                                                                                                                                  > if they use DRM and force you to consume it in their garden

                                                                                                                                                  Like a restaurant without a takeaway service? How evil.

                                                                                                                                                  • choward 14 days ago

                                                                                                                                                    Not even close to being the same at all. For starters, I'm sure they'll give you a togo box if you don't finish unless it's a buffet. When you "buy" a book you should be able to read it whenever you want forever and not rely on the company you bought it from not going out of business. Or they may add ads to the app you HAVE to use to consume it. With food, you're paying for that one experience of eating the food. It's not like the company can take that away from you in the future. It's not supposed to last forever. It's one and done.

                                                                                                                                                    • chrisseaton 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                                      > I'm sure they'll give you a togo box if you don't finish

                                                                                                                                                      In the UK restaurants don’t do this so your surety is misplaced.

                                                                                                                                                      > When you "buy" a book you should be able to read it whenever you want forever and not rely on the company you bought it from not going out of business.

                                                                                                                                                      That’s what you care about. What I care about is most convenient access now. Why is your priority the true one and mine a result of abuse?

                                                                                                                                                      • a1369209993 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                                        > What I care about is most convenient access now.

                                                                                                                                                        Lack of DRM is most convenient. (Unless corporate abuse has made it impossible to use [whichever format is most convenient] without applying DRM, obviously.)

                                                                                                                                                    • rbecker 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                                      Or like a grocery store that'll send security guards into your home to prevent you from eating their bread with cheese you bought elsewhere.

                                                                                                                                                      Since, you know, DRM is there to actively prevent you from doing something, so comparing it with just passively not offering a service is more than a little dishonest.

                                                                                                                                                      • chrisseaton 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                                        > Or like a grocery store that'll send security guards into your home to prevent you from eating their bread with cheese you bought elsewhere

                                                                                                                                                        If I agree to that, and it's worth it to me... what's your problem with that?

                                                                                                                                                        • abawany 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                                          Because it just doesn't affect you: Audible has sucked the oxygen out of the room by virtue of its Amazon leverage so most people can't even name an alternative. Eventually alternatives die and all of us unwillingly get put in the jail that you wish to be in. This is why the comments against your capitulation are strong.

                                                                                                                                                          • chrisseaton 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                                            > Audible has sucked the oxygen out of the room

                                                                                                                                                            I don’t think this is true. In fact I people are listening to more books than before and spending more on them than before. Audible are injecting oxygen into the room!

                                                                                                                                                            > In 2020, Deloitte predicts, the global audiobook market will grow by 25 percent to US$3.5 billion.

                                                                                                                                                            That’s what we should really care about - books read. And money spent is great as well.

                                                                                                                                                            People here forget what books are for - reading. They aren’t supposed to be vehicles for copyright activism.

                                                                                                                                                            • rbecker 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                                              > Audible has sucked the oxygen out of the room

                                                                                                                                                              > I don’t think this is true. In fact I people are listening to more books than before

                                                                                                                                                              Are you deliberately misinterpreting what the parent poster wrote? It sucks the oxygen away from other bookstores. Hence the "Eventually alternatives die". That people spend money on Audible is not a counter-argument.

                                                                                                                                                              > That’s what we should really care about - books read. [..] People here forget what books are for - reading. They aren’t supposed to be vehicles for copyright activism.

                                                                                                                                                              Are you really, really unable to see the danger in relinquishing control over your devices and media?

                                                                                                                                                              • jacobr1 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                > Are you really, really unable to see the danger in relinquishing control over your devices and media?

                                                                                                                                                                Devices I get, but I don't really understand it for media. What I really want is Netflix for Audiobooks. I'm not ever going to listen to them again. I've also never really understood why people buy DVDs. I mean, I understand the fact folks want to watch a movie more than once, but that seems so odd to me, you already know the story ... there is no novelty anymore. I buy books, but only if there are references, or classics that I'd like my children to be exposed to as some point. I see no need to buy copies of the pulp sci-fi I read too much of, kindle copies are fine.

                                                                                                                                                                Audible+ that just launched comes close, but the catalogue is weak for new titles. Libby/Overdrive comes close, but rarely have want I want within a timeframe I'd like.

                                                                                                                                                                I'm willing to pay for convenience, of an ephemeral entertainment experience. Sure, I know some folks want to pay to reread, relisten, or rewatch their favorites, and doing so without DRM would be nice.

                                                                                                                                                                But as long as the data is accessible in some form, it doesn't seem a fundamental issue. Non-resource based monopolies are only sustainable if they keep their customers happy. There is plenty of money to be made with alternatives if they find a way to either suck to cost too much and longer term copyright expires. That is the real answer, copyright should be shrunk to something like 25 years, ignoring the author's life, and be transferable to their estate.

                                                                                                                                                                • abawany 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                  You have probably hit upon the core of the disagreement: when I buy a book, I want to keep it and I will refer to it in the future. Books that aren't keepers, I will borrow from the library. I don't read much fiction but the stuff that I like (e.g. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy), I want to be able to access easily without being subject to encumbrances.

                                                                                                                                                              • abawany 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                What is your fear here for comments opposing Audible's hegemony? This discussion and your other discussions have devolved into "yes it does!" and "no it doesn't!". Could you just explain why Audible and its scheme needs to be the only one standing and everyone here should just not express any concern about it?

                                                                                                                                                                Edit0: BTW, no one has forgotten what books are for. It is Audible with its restrictions that has made reading (or listening) into a hindrance. Are you able to accept that this is my experience/opinion?

                                                                                                                                                                • chrisseaton 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                  > Are you able to accept that this is my experience/opinion?

                                                                                                                                                                  I can readily accept your opinion.

                                                                                                                                                                  But when I say 'I'm happy with the tradeoffs and the book world is far better with Audible without and it's a fine consensual business relationship' then everyone tries to remove my agency and that I could only say such a thing under abuse.

                                                                                                                                                                  Audiobooks used to be astronomically expensive, hard to buy, hard to use. Thanks to Audible I'm reading more than ever. There's a minor trade-off of DRM which isn't really even a theoretical problem for me or I think the vast vast majority of people, but people forget all that and call them 'abusive'. I think it's nasty and unreasonable.

                                                                                                                                                                  • abawany 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                    Thanks for acknowledging my point. I acknowledge your concern about Audible but still say that they are currently too-big-to-fail and as a result, unlike in video-on-demand (Netflix vs. its competitors) and perhaps ebooks (Amazon vs. Kobo vs. Google), there is a real danger of them becoming too powerful for a healthy market. I understand the debt of gratitude that I see with you and others defending Audible but hopefully you will see, not before it is too late, that a little diversity in the audiobook market won't hurt.

                                                                                                                                                        • danShumway 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                                          A) restaurant meals are consumable, they're not permanent assets.

                                                                                                                                                          B) when was the last time you went to a restaurant that wouldn't let you box whatever was left of your meal?

                                                                                                                                                          C) you're arguing elsewhere that Audible is actually awesome because it makes your life better by allowing you to do things like manage your entire library in one place that syncs to all of your devices. How can you understand that benefit, but simultaneously not understand the practical lock-in effect of Amazon forcing you to abandon every audiobook you ever purchased just because you switched to a new service?

                                                                                                                                                          The restaurant analogy is terrible. It's more like imagining that your JC Penny clothes could only be worn with other JC Penny clothes, and if you ever wanted to shop at Target you'd need to have two wardrobes, one for each store, or you'd be committing a felony.

                                                                                                                                                          I'm going to step out and say that yes, that kind of behavior is anti-competitive, anti-consumer, and to the extent that an amoral market can be evil, it's evil.

                                                                                                                                                          • chrisseaton 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                                            A) But that’s how I read books - I read and then I’m done. Am I reading wrong?

                                                                                                                                                            B) Last week. You can’t take leftovers home where I live it’s considered gross.

                                                                                                                                                            C) I don’t mind the lock-in because the value with it (convenience, price) makes it worthwhile.

                                                                                                                                                            People here can’t accept I value convenience over abstract rights.

                                                                                                                                                            • danShumway 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                                              I suppose, but you can excuse pretty much anything that way.

                                                                                                                                                              "This restaurant serves spoiled eggs."

                                                                                                                                                              "But I don't eat eggs, so that doesn't matter."

                                                                                                                                                              > I value convenience over abstract rights.

                                                                                                                                                              They're not abstract rights, Amazon in the real world has taken over pretty much the entire audiobook market and used their market dominance to force publishers and writers to bend to increasingly unfair terms. The lock-in isn't abstract, I've talked to people in the real world who are interested in getting other readers but feel like they can't because they'd lose their existing library. Real people are being prevented from moving services in the real world.

                                                                                                                                                              You might not care about those rights, and you might not care about how they influence how the market you participate in evolves over time and what innovations from that market you get to access. But even if you don't care about that stuff, all of it is real and has real consequences. To say they're abstract is an even stranger position for you to take:

                                                                                                                                                              "This restaurant serves spoiled eggs."

                                                                                                                                                              "The eggs aren't on my plate, so they're entirely theoretical."

                                                                                                                                                              > You can’t take leftovers home where I live it’s considered gross.

                                                                                                                                                              Minor sidenote, but you're missing out. One of the best parts of eating out is that you have some leftovers for supper that night and don't need to cook. I highly recommend it if you've never tried it before.

                                                                                                                                                              Also consider: it may be culturally unacceptable to carry leftovers home, but would you be arrested if you tried to? Would it be a federal offense?

                                                                                                                                                              • dageshi 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                I'm no expert on the history of audiobooks, but I get the impression they used to be really really expensive? Like double or even treble a hardback.

                                                                                                                                                                Amazon seems to have gained its dominance by making them cheaper to the point where people can really afford them as an alternative to hard/paperbacks.

                                                                                                                                                                For all the hatred of amazon in this thread, I suspect the audiobook market would be a fraction of what it is now without them or someone who looks exactly like them.

                                                                                                                                                                • danShumway 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                  All monopolies start out by offering decent services.

                                                                                                                                                                  Amazon itself got popular by offering good prices and product selections. That doesn't mean modern concerns about how they treat their workers/drivers should be dismissed, it doesn't mean current concerns about how they screen for imposter sellers and group projects together aren't valid. It doesn't mean that their usage of 3rd-party seller data to push their own product development isn't anticompetitive.

                                                                                                                                                                  Even still, I doubt you'd see as much hatred of amazon in this thread if it wasn't for their DRM, lack of Linux/OS support, and some of their more arduous publisher terms (not allowing publishers to sell without DRM, forcing exclusives, etc). I don't think that stuff has anything to do with growing the market. I don't think taking away user rights is an essential part of offering cheaper prices, and I especially don't think that having cheap prices somehow excuses their other anticompetitive behavior.

                                                                                                                                                                  Should we stop criticizing Spotify's co-opting of the podcast movement just because they popularized music streaming and managed to get musicians to accept much worse terms for payouts? Should we stop criticizing Netflix's push for DRM standards on the web just because they started out with a great DVD rental service?

                                                                                                                                                          • eldridgea 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                                            More like a bookstore that won't let you leave with your books.

                                                                                                                                                            So research library rules, but retail-ownership pricing.

                                                                                                                                                            • gwicks56 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                                              Exactly like that. And 10 years later they can come and extract the calories from you against your will.

                                                                                                                                                              • Igelau 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                You mean it comes with free lipo when I'm older? In that case I'll take two.

                                                                                                                                                          • Jtsummers 14 days ago

                                                                                                                                                            It's a publicity thing, more than a problem solving thing in itself. There are other platforms, but many (most?) people are unaware of them (or only vaguely aware) and they don't have the same issues wrt DRM. This seems to be a way to draw attention both to those alternative platforms and Amazon's use of DRM.

                                                                                                                                                          • ThinkBeat 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                                            I guess it is good publicity and easy money.

                                                                                                                                                            I dont see how an established author like Cory needs a Kickstarter to finance an audiobook.

                                                                                                                                                            I think he can do easily on his own, and have various companies queuing outside his door to finance or publish it.

                                                                                                                                                            If you were an unknown author and none of the established publishers were interested I see that as a Kickstarter candidate but then raising funding would be difficult.

                                                                                                                                                            Cory has all sorts of means og financing and getting paid

                                                                                                                                                            • superkuh 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                                              Text to speech that you can run on your own computer is not great but it gets the job done without involving audible. I personally like it because it doesn't have the interpretation that human readers bring to stories.

                                                                                                                                                              Of course I still find myself still battling DRM for even text ebooks just to get access to the raw text itself for use with command line tools.

                                                                                                                                                              • ebg13 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                > Text to speech that you can run on your own computer is not great

                                                                                                                                                                Understatement of the century.

                                                                                                                                                                > I personally like it because it doesn't have the interpretation that human readers bring to stories.

                                                                                                                                                                I suspect that you're in the minority for audiobook listeners. Does this mean that you don't like movies because of the interpretation that human actors, directors, videographers, and composers bring to the scripts? I don't enjoy _ever_ narrator, but there are a lot of really fantastic human narrators out there.

                                                                                                                                                                • superkuh 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                  > does this mean that you don't like movies because of the interpretation

                                                                                                                                                                  Pretty much everyone acknowledges the books are almost always better. Part of the reason is this, yes.

                                                                                                                                                                  • ebg13 12 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                    > Pretty much everyone acknowledges the books are almost always better. Part of the reason is this, yes.

                                                                                                                                                                    It's usually not the reason, though. People say "the book is better" because films necessarily have to remove a bunch of content in order to fit within a movie timeframe, which requires changing the narrative arc. That's an entirely unrelated issue.

                                                                                                                                                              • LibertyBeta 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                Cory, first and foremost, sticks to his guns and writes what he believes. Glad to see this getting some press.

                                                                                                                                                                He makes me want to ditch my kindle for a kobo, but the book buying experience is just not as good/workable for me along with rebuying my catalogue. Not to mention cost of hardware.

                                                                                                                                                                • kkdsafjid 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                  Isn't a paper book also kind of DRMed? It's pretty difficult to copy? You could put it on a photo copier, but then I guess you could also tape record an audible book to copy it.

                                                                                                                                                                  I respect that he wants his books to be available without DRM, but why not simply offer a way for audible shoppers to download a DRM free copy from another source?

                                                                                                                                                                  • thayne 14 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                    Good for him!

                                                                                                                                                                    • throwawaynothx 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                      I find it hilarious the Ebook is bundled with massive amounts of DRM and hes fine having that on amazon, But NOOOO not the audio book?

                                                                                                                                                                      • hutattedonmyarm 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                        It’s not though? You can get the ebooks DRM free directly from him and amazon offers the ability to not use their DRM for ebooks

                                                                                                                                                                      • scrame 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                        Cory Doctorow has been irrelevant for 15 years. There is a good case to be made for people not reading any more, and a concern of amazon owning the listening time of people like they own the delivery and server space, but a marketing gimmick from the former editor of boingboing.com aint gonna turn the tide.

                                                                                                                                                                        • m463 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                          I think science fiction authors never become irrelevant.

                                                                                                                                                                          They tend to grow in popularity like new technologies - overestimated in the short term, underestimated in the long term.

                                                                                                                                                                          • pmoriarty 13 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                            Irrelevant for whom exactly?

                                                                                                                                                                            He's relevant enough to make HN's front page.

                                                                                                                                                                            I've also been following his blog (and the Boing Boing website) for years (and the Boing Boing paper zine before that).

                                                                                                                                                                            I've never read his fiction, but his writing on technology, privacy and surveillance capitalism is eloquent, interesting, and insightful and has always been worth my time.