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.