Libro.fm is an amazing alternative to Amazon's Audible: an independent audiobook platform that sells books from every major publisher at the same price as Audible - but without DRM, and with a share of every sale going to an indie bookseller of your choosing.
Virtually every audiobook title is available through Libro.fm - except for those titles that Audible demands be sold as "Audible exclusives."
Not only are these not available through Libro, they're also not offered to libraries.
Libraries are the delivery system of choice for people with dyslexia and other learning disabilities, as well as people with physical disabilities that make handling books difficult, or people with visual disabilities that rely on audiobooks.
Many of these Audible exclusives come through Audible's Creation Exchange - an unpoliced, self-serve platform that has been abused by unscrupulous people who've illegally created audio editions of my own books (Audible won't carry my official audiobooks as they're DRM-free).
If you create an audiobook on ACX, Amazon demands that it be Audible-exclusive (and banned from library distribution) -- or it cuts your royalty rate IN HALF.
"Audible Exclusives also work in direct opposition to the basic principles of libraries—free access to books, both digital and print."
And, of course, Audible-only titles are also barred from bookstore distribution...which only enhances Amazon's monopoly over book-sales and erodes the dwindling, fragile market for your community bookseller.
Many new releases are embargoed from non-Audible distribution for the first 90 days - Amazon bribes publishers to make their books "Audible exclusive" at launch time to freeze out competitors.
I mean, fuck that.
Libro.fm is great. I have given up enough money to buy a house by refusing to give in to Audible's demand that my books have DRM and be locked to Amazon's platform forever.
I'm currently setting up presales for my independent audio edition of ATTACK SURFACE, the third Little Brother novel, which is read by the incredible Amber Benson.
Our family finances could be better. We're not broke, but we're down by a BUNCH and getting a little worried. My agent and publisher would love me to go with Audible, and I'm not gonna lie, I've thought about it.
Not because I want to. Not because it's the right thing to do. But because if I can't pay my mortgage, it's gonna be hard to write books. Audible might turn out to be the lesser of two evils.
I hate that. I've lived my principles for decades, but these are desperate times. This is the nature of monopolies, after all - they choke off access to the marketplace, so you either give them a share or you get out of the business.
I'm glad Libro's calling attention to this important issue, but I don't think we can shame Audible into dropping exclusives. They broke their promise to drop DRM back when Amazon bought them in 2008. Why would they start behaving honorably now?
@pluralistic thanks for sharing, this is informative. you may recall me from emails. imagine how difficult this time is for someone who never was able to get published in the first place and who has to report first hand on actual police state harassment as a victim. that said, I would lose all respect for you if you went with audible and said DRM is a market imperative or some such. the oligarchy is tightening the reigns, only people who drink the koolaid can earn $. Do we need a guild?
@pluralistic Interessting. Thanks for sharing.
@pluralistic how does the access to libro audiobooks look outside the us/Canada region?
@syndikalista I suspect you can't.
@pluralistic From the FAQ: "While you can pay as you go for most Libro.fm audiobooks, membership is currently available only to customers in the U.S. and Canada."
@pluralistic I'm their accessibility lead, so glad to see others like it apart from me! :) More work to do, accessibility wise, but I've been moving people away from Audible and shopping at Libro FM. :) Shopping there just makes me feel better.
@pluralistic ohhh wow I had no idea there was a good drm free alternative to audible
@pluralistic Thanks for the tip! I have yet to listen to an audiobook – my full listening time (doing chores, etc.) goes to podcasts, but if one day I decide to go with audiobooks, I will definitely keep in mind to buy them from libro.fm!
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