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Dear friends,

I know I should not bother write yet more on audible.com. but I want to warn as many people as I can reach to STAY AWAY from AUDIBLE.COM. Yes I know on a scale of the horrific things happening on this earth every day (poverty engendered throughout the globe, torture to put people protesting down, murder, violence, cruelties of every and all sorts, people's spirits destroyed), this is a small petty sort of pest-crime. But it does count. You might say it's indicative of the private-property system on the Net at its worst. Anyway friends warn friends against traps.

I've written too much already on Trollope19thCStudies and again on facebook, with a few kind and well-meaning friends, not omit chatting with a few more through gmail. I do it because the Yahoo list and chat function reach few people, and I'm not sure who reads my postings on facebook as it is configured to be (and is) an opaque game of exclusions (I don't know who excludes me and can't tell what "public" a "public" message reaches) and inclusions (I can't tell which friends of my friends can read what I write when I designate a message that way).

Basically, the sad saga of my attempt to replace my way of getting access to unabridged texts of good books read aloud by fine readers took another turn. You may recall my Heartache. As I've written here earlier, the Admiral, Yvette and I tried several ways spending hours of time, using on line software and then a bought machine to turn my audiocassette tapes of fine novels read aloud into MP3s. Like others we discovered, we reached a place where there was a technological hitch and never got past it. Whether this was the result of a poor machine or some diabolical way of making tapes that prevents one from lifting the sound off I've no idea. A friend told me of a British place that did it, but it was super-expensive, thousands of dollars!

For some months I went an alternative route: I bought unabridged books read aloud in the form of CDs when I found them on sale. I had some good experiences. Philip Madoc reading Dr Zhivago, Cavid Case and Donada Peters reading The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, I listened to four of the sex Austen novels by good readers. The price though for longer novels was more than I really could afford, and I spend a lot of time in my car. I noticed something called MP3s turned into CDs was much cheaper because there were fewer CDs per set. But my old radio set would not play this kind of CD the admiral said.

So this past summer I succumbed to replacing my radio equipment in my car with a new unit. I can not only play MP3s but also a thumbdrive could be put in, an ipod and the old fashioned CDs too.  Problem I had no ipod. I also had trouble getting used to this new box as once again the controls were even tinier and each button had several functions. I struggled with it and Yvette and I did listen to Donada Peters reading Daniel Deronda and mostly by myself I listened to Peters reading Middlemarch and then Simon Vane The Last Chronicle of Barset. All MP3s turned into CDs so only a few CDs and much less expensive. But I soon discovered that there were a limited number and range of these MP3s of unabridged texts. Most texts were abridged. I bought the listened to Anton Lesser reading an abridged Little Dorrit and it was frustrating to realize say more than 1/2 of the novel was gone, and some of it doubtless the finest parts because the story needed to be kept and that was melodramatic.

I had been told about Librivox -- free readings by generous people giving of themselves and their time (and coerced high school students).  I listened to three of an unabriged Our Mutual Friend, and at first though I did find a reader equivalently good to the professionals, but alas Mil Nicholson though she reads dramatically, with tone and understanding, tries too hard, overdoes it, and goes excruciatingly slow. I suspect this reading is one reason I'm not liking the novel very much, get bored with it. The admiral put it on a thumbdrive which is awkward for me to use. I do get restless with how at the end of each chapter there is a silence and then she repeats this is a librivox, in the public domain, her name and the name of the novel, book, chapter. It interrupts the reverie, and is a reminder that lurking near are the ruthless cheats from the capitalist order just waiting to sell copies of this book to unsuspecting people. It's a kind of marker of poison seeping from outside the world of the reading. Plus I get even more impatient.

Now Caroline bought me an ipod for Xmas as I (and the admiral and Yvette) bought her an ipad. Potlatch exchange anyone? And three days ago a friend on Trollope 19thCstudies listening to my complaints about Nicolson wrote two long details emails about how to subscribe to audiblecom, with the claim it resembled Netflix: a monthly charge, with a free book each month and anything over the one book you pay a price. I should have been suspicious something was wrong that I needed all these instructions. I don't need them to use Netflix which is not hard. I know sites can be made easy to use.

In the event, I discovered this site is horrible. I couldn't even figure out how to sign in to join it to start with. This is what happened.  We spent over an hour trying to download a book after we signed up for an account. My husband tells me we were not permitted t download a book for free as part of our membership. We were permitted to listen to something first but there was no sign of where to download a book -- whether for free or purchase. We tried through the ipod and the application had no button for it. We tried to follow the detailed instructions of the kind person on Trollope19thCStudies, but could not find the application as it was at one point (it said) no longer there. The admiral phoned for help and what we got was obfuscation on the phone. The man heard my husband; the question was plain: how do I get to the list of ebooks so that I can get my monthly book or other books?  He would not respond to that. I don't know what mumbo jumbo he replied with but after 2 years of trying to get help from agencies for my younger daughter where they have no intention of helping you (each individual on the phone there to collect a salary for their job) I believe him thoroughly that I don't need to know what exactly it was. He didn't answer a plain question

So we cancelled. I really thought my husband was about to have a heart-attack with the idiocy of the replies. He kept asking, How do I download a this free ebook we were to get as part of the membershipto start with and was told repeatedly that we couldn't.

So we just cancelled. We did have trouble doing even that. There was no place on the website which permitted one to cancel. We had to phone, wait on line and then struggle to cancel.

My own experience is this: when a company/institution wants me to do something, even I have no trouble doing it. I have found no trouble coping with Netflix and when I call they help me. Later this afternoon I was struggling with my (goddamn) syllabus and some complicated stuff at GMU and found online help and managed it.

Reading over my friends' very kind description of the troubles her brother had, though I do not quite understand, it strikes me that barriers are put up which should not be. They deliberately confuse you to try to get you to click on things which you don't want to do or buy (apparently) to get you to spend lots of money on expensive ebooks. They rely on people's sheeplike behavior and willingness to succumb to such treatment.

The upshot is we turned away for good from this place.

We will be able to download stuff from librivox because librivox permits it. This week I'll carry on with OMF for a while and hope I can get engaged when I am in my car more but if I find I still am not involved, I'll probably buy the MP3 into CDs of Donada Peters reading Romola for my next choice and after that try Librivox

I told about this experience on Trollope19thCStudies and my friend commiserated and said many people found the same and yes it was deliberate. The company wants to cheat you into buying expensive ebooks and prevent you from actually benefiting from the economic things they supposedly offer.

While I was exchanging messages on facebook, two friends on chat told me of similar experiences with audible.  Another said he couldn't do anything at all either and just assumed his equipment was incompatible and managed (a struggle) to cancel.  Here is yer another friend on Facebook wrote: 

"I tried Audible for three months and found the agreement sneaky (only 2 books and not 3 for the trial period) and the software difficult. The online help was nice...but not very competent. and the prices were very high-- probably what it takes to produce a professional audio, but still high on an adjunct salary. :-)  So there are two alternatives. One is Librivox, which consists of books in the public domain, read by amateurs. A few have been stinkers but most have been wonderful. Most recently I am listening to Dicken's Hard Times, read by various voices, each taking one character's part. The other alternative is Overdrive media through public libraries. Not a lot available, but I have listened to a lot, both classic and contemporary there. Also, they have two formats, one for Ipods and one for MP3s. Fairly easy to download. Actually, there may be a third. My previous university bought a lot of novels on CD which I was able to rip and listen to. This is not the answer to your question, I know. "

Another friend who is apparently a super-expert on computer software (does it for a living) claims to be able to navigate such a site and says the Admiral ought to be able to. Well, he can't and he's not incompetent.

My reader might wonder why I care so much about this, why I've tried and tried, gave up for a while and am now trying again. Well recently aging has added another decay: I can't read at night at all so time lost in the car is serious time lost from books during the day. Of course it goes back before this: it just was such a joy to me to have wonderful books read aloud to me by wonderful readers. They were sort of my friends. David Case was an addition to my life, to say nothing of my understanding of so many rich books (beyond Trollope which he's so good at). I do know that on Trollope19thCstudies I have friends who feel the same. They do seem to be able to endure bad or toneless readers. I can't. It ruins the book and I really probably prefer silence.

I do not prefer caterwauling modern music and commercials on radio and my CD music collection is limited. What I do have to do is start downloading itunes to the ipod. I am very awkward at this but must try to learn a little at a time.

I've written this to try to reach as many people as I can to STAY AWAY from AUDIBLE.Com.



( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 17th, 2012 12:49 pm (UTC)
Just a quick note on Audible (because I can't comment on the site). I do so sympathise - my own experience with them was very bad because I couldn't even play the book I bought. I have abandoned any attempt at getting MP3 books and am just using my old walkman and playing my old tapes; I don't know what I will do when this breaks down, though my suspicion is there will be second-hand replacement machines around for many years given the number of tapes still available on ebay (must be a lot of people still using tapes). I use cds in the car although I generally play music.

Incidentally (joke alert as you would say!) you made a a delightful Freudian slip 'sex Austen novels' - brought a big smile to my morning.

Much Affection,
Jan. 17th, 2012 12:49 pm (UTC)
A friend on Trollope19thCStudies sent me a site where people promise
to transform the tapes to CDs for a reasonable price. I went to that
English site you showed me for changing video cassettes to DVDs, but
it was beyond my pocketbook. I buy way too many books and cannot go on for thousands on tapes -- and who knows next year CDs will be phased out by the relentless capitalists making all obsolete.

I do have a walkman and use it in Jim's car when we have gone on long
trips. Alas some of my tapes are getting old and dry and don't play.
But I did finish Case reading _Tom Jones_, the tape set that I was
going through when my car cassette broke.

Jan. 17th, 2012 12:58 pm (UTC)
I wrote a longggg response on your blog, which would not let me share it, and it disappeared into the ether. Basic message: all of this stuff takes time, which we don't want to take because we don't enjoy it the way we enjoyed driving or walking to bookstores, browsing the aisles. Also enjoying it takes constant updating of skills, which I hate. It sucks.

Jan. 17th, 2012 12:59 pm (UTC)
First, I often put messages for others on my blogs because my blogs often don't take messages. The very worst is LiveJournal. Recently I know why they don't want non-members to write: the Russian gov't has agencies which throw spanners at them because huge amounts of Russian people (relative to those on the Net) are on LiveJournal.

I am not sure I can learn. I've tried in my clumsy way, and have in this stumbling crippled fashion done a lot. But I have no intuition for it whatsoever. I guess wrong every time. I did not know where to join Audible. There was no instruction or button I could make out anywhere. Jim did know what to hit to start. Each thing I learn to do is utter rote, and unless I keep it up I forget it. So I continually need relearning. I have 3 by 5 index cards with little instructions which are a mess.

But I know sites can be made to let even such as I function with ease. Netflix. Amazon. ABE book-buying. The English department where I teach. So it's deliberate and why do it but to cheat and fleece me; to hide what they really are doing. Like the people using phony jargon. What is it Catherine Morland says: she "cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible." No it's that she has no false motives to do it.

Jan. 17th, 2012 01:00 pm (UTC)
When I first subscribed to Audible.com, you did not have to go through all of this. It was optional then to download Audible's download manager software. I downloaded quite a few audiobooks without it, before I stupidly did download the software.

Along the same lines, I note that the new version of my beloved Archos 70 tablet will no longer be a mass storage device. That is precisely what I loved about my Archos 70. -- that it functioned as a mass storage device. Since it acted as a mass storage device, my computer treated it like a hard drive. It was drag and drop. I dragged the icons of my photos and songs and videos from my computer to the icon of the Archos on the desktop, which is all I needed to do to copy them to the Archos, and them from the Archos back to the Mac. That included the folders that organized them. Now they have changed the new Archos, the 80, to a media device. No more drag and drop. Now everything is complicated and cumbersome.

I believe that the changes in the Archos and at Audible.com reflect pressure from the music and other media industries which are terrified that we will share our audiobooks and music and movies with others, who will get them without paying for them.

I do not intend to buy another Archos. Fortunately the battery is replaceable. I am hoping to keep it forever. I love drag and drop -- and easy downloads.

By the way, I deleted my Audible.com download software, but it made no difference. It is still working, curse it.

A friend

Jan. 17th, 2012 01:12 pm (UTC)
To Ruellia and all,

I made a Sylvia blog in an effort to desseminate to anyone who reads that blog (I have a small steady readership) how bad audible.com is.

A couple of friends kept saying it was just (in effect) my incompetence (which I could believe) -- and Jim's (which I know cannot be).

On the fear that people will share audiobooks, this should have nothing to do with movies and music. There is small audience for even abridged trash books, a tiny one for abridged good books, and an almost invisible one for long great and serious books unabridged. I did see something of this on ECCO: this is a hugely expensive site where every book that was published in the UK between 1700 to 1800 of a belletristic or humanities or historical, archaeological, geological, autobiographical nature has been put on line. The corporation did this by buying a huge set of microfilms that have been in libraries for decades. I used to use them as microfilms (and then microfiche). It was very hard: they had been added one at a time very cheaply (paying the people doing it tiny sums). You had to use loose-leaf notebooks which were not alphabetized, but set up chronologically, each notebook beginning again. Now a flick of the finger in the ECCO search engine brings up the text -- as long as you do not deviate an iota from the name of the writer or the title or know of some phrase in the text which is unique.

At first people were not allowed to download the texts. And one could only read them for ten minutes without rebooting. The complaints were such - -because it meant you couldn't use it and scholars want the texts -- that now you can download them.

And yes share them with others. How many others. Thus far in my life two people have asked me for a book that way. So small it's hilarious. These are independent scholars cut off.

The company would get no money from them. They lose nothing. The same goes bey the way for the pictures that are held so tightly. We see the same tired pictures on book covers because someone owns the copyright and will not let it be used without charging huge sums. No one will pay. No one sees the pictures. Once in a while a new one is released. They are not making money by doing this only hindering people from enjoying art and learning from it. I do all I can to counter this one.

Greed, greed, ugly nasty relentless greed to gouge as much from you is only part; they want the principle of utter selfishness and greed to reign supreme too.

Miss Drake
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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