The Downside to Audible

I’ve spent a fair amount of time on Nuketown singing the praises of, so I figure it’s only proper that I also mention the drawbacks.

A friend of mine recently subscribed to Audible, and was eager to use his new MP3 player to listen to books. I’ve long hyped the benefits of Audible to my group of friends, but for me the entire process has been largely transparent: I pick the books I want from Audible, I download them to my Mac, they get sucked into iTunes, and whammo, they’re on my iPod. Simple.

Well, it turns out that it isn’t always that simple. See, Audible encrypts all their files, and as a result, they don’t support the MP3 format. Which was a real bummer for my friend, seeing as how he’s got this nifty new MP3 player and all.

It turns out that there are only a handful of players that can handle Audible’s format (or, in the case of Apple’s iPod, convert it into another encrypted format). The complete list can be found on Audible’s Web site by going to “Help Center” and then choosing “Compatible Devices” from the left-hand navigation links (I’d include a link directly to it, but Audible insists on including session information in its urls, and since this session info expires after a certain amount of time, any link I’d include would be outdated by the time you tried to use it).

So the moral of the story is, if you’re in the market for an digital audio player, and are thinking of using Audible, make sure you check the device list before buying.

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