Thursday, January 18, 2007

Audio Books and DRM

Normally, I don't pontificate on this blog. I try to find articles or information that may be of interest and pass them along. But today my supervisor sent me a link to an online song that complains about downloadable audio books that don't work on iPods. Before I respond, let me say that I use a Mac at work and at home and I own an iPod.

The guys over at the Wired Listening Post were whining about this yesterday. They are "alarmed" that the library is embracing proprietary DRM. It's not like the library could choose a service that works with Macs. None of them do. Believe me, libraries would prefer that these books play on whatever devices are available.

On one hand, library journals and pundits are encouraging (demanding) that libraries find ways to use these technologies or they claim we'll be marginalized and become obsolete. On the other hand, we get criticized when we do.

So the choices are:

1. Provide a service that the majority of our patrons can use and are grateful for.
2. Not bring our services to where the patrons are, as we've done with our catalog, e-mail reference, newsletter and outreach programs.
3. Not use this new technology while Apple and Microsoft thrash out the DRM.
4. Write goofy songs about how awful the library is.

Nowhere do I hear a solution from these writers. Should we circulate a bunch of iPod shuffles or Nanos already preloaded with books? Some libraries do this. This is tedious and limits the titles we could offer. Let's not even talk about theft. Our county system decided to go with OverDrive because of the convenience and large selection of titles.

In closing, please read the comments below the Wired post. Some of those writers make my argument better than I can.


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