In my latest Publishers Weekly column, I explain why I’m not even going to try to sell downloads of the audiobook of the my forthcoming experimental short story collection, With a Little Help: Apple won’t carry it without DRM; Audible won’t carry it without an abusive EULA; and all the major digital delivery systems are crufty and needlessly complicated.
For my next book, Makers, we tried again. This time Audible agreed to carry the title without DRM. Hooray! Except now there was a new problem: Apple refused to allow DRM-free audiobooks in the Apple Store—yes, the same Apple that claims to hate DRM. Okay, we thought, we’ll just sell direct through Audible, at least it’s a relatively painless download process, right? Not quite. It turns out that buying an audiobook from Audible requires a long end-user license agreement (EULA) that bars users from moving their Audible books to any unauthorized device or converting them to other formats. Instead of DRM, they accomplish the lock-in with a contract.
I came up with what I thought was an elegant solution: a benediction to the audio file: “Random House Audio and Cory Doctorow, the copyright holders to this recording, grant you permission to use this book in any way consistent with your nation’s copyright laws.” This is a good EULA, I thought, as it stands up for every word of copyright law. Random House was game, too. Audible wasn’t. So we decided not to sell through Audible, which I was intensely bummed about, because I really like Audible. They have great selection, good prices, and they’re kicking ass with audiobooks.