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rjbs (4671)

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I'm a Perl coder living in Bethlehem, PA and working Philadelphia. I'm a philosopher and theologan by training, but I was shocked to learn upon my graduation that these skills don't have many associated careers. Now I write code.

Journal of rjbs (4671)

Monday February 04, 2008
09:08 AM itunes stupidity

[ #35572 ]

Ages ago, I got an Audible membership. Three days each week, I walk about half an hour to the bus and about half an hour home. For most of the year, I can spend that time reading a book. In the winter, though, it's just too cold. My fingers freeze, even if I read with one hand in my pocket and switch back and forth. Audible sells audiobooks, and I can listen to them on my iPod while I walk. They have a subscription model where get one or two credits each month, and each credit can be exchanged for one book. Sometimes, this is an okay deal: you pay $15 per month and get a $25 copy of the abridged version of a popular novel. Sometimes, it is a great deal: you get a $40 copy of a twenty-five hour classic.

I cancelled my old membership when winter ended, but my sister got me a gift certificate for Christmas (because I'd asked for one) and I signed up again. I got in on a promotional rate of about $7 per month. This week, I downloaded the 41 hour unabridged audiobook of Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, volume one... for $7.

Audible lets you download files in their .aa format, which is basically an MP3 wrapped up in some DRM. I'm not a fan of restricted media files, but Audible has such good deals that I don't mind. iTunes has a plugin that lets you authorize your computer to play your Audible tracks. Ever since I rejoined, it's been giving me grief: I try to play a track and I have to re-enter my password. After that, all my Audible files will play until I quit, when I have to re-enter my password again.

It's not some easy six character password, either, it's a big monster generated by 1Password.

I was concerned that I'd broken something in my account, the way I broke things (I think) by stripping PPC and certain languages from I hadn't touched anything since I reinstalled, though! Why was this happening?

I had a heck of a time finding information on this until I stumbled across this blog post that pointed out the undisclosed fact that when you authorize iTunes to play your Audible content, you must be logged in as an administrator. I have no idea why. Maybe it stores your token somewhere in /Library. I am pretty damned sure that no matter what the reason, the reason is stupid.

Anyway, I'm pretty annoyed at Audible about this, but not annoyed enough to write them off forever. I mean, even at their normal rate, $15 for a forty hour audiobook is a pretty great deal. Maybe I'll even stay subscribed through the summer, this year.

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  • Did you see Thursday (IIRC) that Amazon is buying Audible?
    • I did see that! So far, it seems to have no impact on anything. Maybe eventually (ha!) audiobooks will be available as DRM-free mp3s. That would be nice. I mean, I imagine that I could go torrent most of the stuff I'm buying, it's just a hassle and I like to feel like I'm helping people stay employed. I just wish they'd help me, in return, keep my blood pressure down.

      We'll see!
      • I don't think the purchase is final, so it'll likely be awhile before any real changes make it to the surface.

        Carl does something magic to turn his Audible stuff into MP3. I could ask him what he's using, if you want.
  • Hey, Ricardo...

    This requires Windows. I don't know how to do it on other platforms without capturing the audio in real-time.

    Audible has gone around and DMCA-threatened folks for posting details on how to do this, so I'll list the pieces... you can figure it out from there. (For the record, I do this to play on a non-DRM-enabled device.)

    dBpoweramp Music Converter + its WMA codec
    Audible's Windows Media Player plugin

    That will get you one big WAV file, at a fraction of playback speed, for each .aa file.

    I to s
  • Have you tried the audio books on eMusic? They are DRM-free MP3.
    • shows me one giant image that links to signup. I can't see any way to browse their offerings.

      I don't see any reason to sign up for Who Knows What.
      • Hm, actually, after trying a bunch of links, I found it by going to About Us, then to the "Browse" tab.

        Good work, jerks.
        • ...and then, for example, they have only the abridged version of Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and they have only vols 1-2, of 3.