I like to read, and I like podcasts, so Audible seems like a natural fit for me. It seems to be well priced, it uses platforms I already own (an Amazon account and an iPhone), and it aligns with my desire to read (or listen) to more books in 2015.
I certainly have plenty of listening time available to me each week. I spend at least 40 minutes in the car each week day, I clean up the kitchen and do the dishes a few nights per week, there’s laundry on weekends… all up I could easily spend 8 hours each week listening to audio content. Even when you subtracted a few hours for the very best of those podcasts I already listen to, it leaves enough listening time for a typical audiobook.
So at $14.95 per month to listen to one book, why not give it a try. After all I’ve been hearing how great Audible is for years, they sponsor many podcasts that I already listen to and the reviews have been nothing but positive.
I had a long drive ahead of me to head up the coast for the weekend. What better time to start and Audible trial?
So I signed up, pondered the selection of books available, and finally chose Zero to One. I did this on my PC at work, because every attempt I had made to search for books in the iPhone app had returned zero results. In fact, searching on the website had been unreliable as well. But anyway, I chose my book and proceeded to checkout.
Then this happened.
Regional restrictions? Why tell me about them now, at the last possible step of checkout. I’ve been an Amazon customer for years, I’m using my Amazon account on Audible, why not warn me about this before I try to check out? Why show me content I can’t buy?
In fact, why even restrict me at all? I can buy the physical book and Kindle version from Amazon, but not the audiobook? What year is this?
It was at this point I realised that an Australian site, Audible.com.au, also existed. So I went there instead. It’s the same Audible, just tailored for this region. And with fewer titles available.
And really none of the titles I’d considered buying up until that moment.
When publishers decide to publish a work, they acquire the rights to distribute that title in certain parts of the world (or region). Sometimes they buy “world rights”, but frequently the rights for a book are split among several companies, each of whom publish for certain countries. As a distributor, we need to abide by the restrictions that publishers assume when they publish a work.
I don’t blame Audible for this. Publishers may have some valid reason for region-specific distribution deals, but they’ve got rocks in their heads if they think blocking entire markets is a good idea.
Anyway, I don’t get to listen to the book, Peter and Blake miss out on an audiobook sale (which isn’t going to even show up on their radar), and Audible has a customer more likely to cancel in the near future due to lack of choice than continue with a monthly subscription.
The old way of doing things continues, and nobody wins.