Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Audio Apartheid

Book publishers are a weird lot, and seem to have no qualms about carving up the globe into pieces and then treating each piece differently. That's why I call it Apartheid. There are other words to describe it: "regional segregation", "economic discrimination", or even plain racism. Call it what you will, it sucks. Here's a recent example:
I can buy this audio book from Audible.com, which happens to be the best source for audio books on the planet. But if I want the unabridged version, I get this response:

Now I know that Audible doesn't like it, but until now their approach has been "there's nothing we an do about it". In their own words:
When publishers decide to publish a work, they acquire the rights to distribute that title in certain parts of the globe. 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. Thousands of our titles are available for "world" distribution.
Their management knows this is a problem, but at the moment they feel powerless to deal with it, because they are dictated to by their suppliers. It's time for their customers to dictate to their suppliers. I just have to figure out how.
Apple, on the other hand, is just plain arrogant in their approach: they won't even let me sign up to their iTunes store, even though I own two iPods, sold to me in South Africa through official distribution channels. When interviewed on 702, the MD of Apple SA said there is nothing he can do about it, he's only the distributor. That sucks! I'm his customer, and he throws his hands in the air.
So not only does Apple make buggy software, they just couldn't give a damn.

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