Cool Move, Penguin
If further proof were needed that nobody reads anymore (even through earbuds), new research shows that they can't even be bothered to steal books. Still, concerns over intellectual property rights were cited when Penguin Audio pulled its 150 audiobook titles offered over eMusic from the service. "Our main responsibility is to protect our authors," says Penguin Group CEO David Shanks.
eMusic, which sells its MP3 files without DRM protection, hired San Francisco-area piracy monitoring firm BayTSP to check for its audiobook files on BitTorrent networks. None were found, prompting eMusic CEO and president David Pakman to comment, "Their research is proof that eMusic customers are unlikely to engage in file-sharing activity."
However, there is evidence of the pirating of audiobooks, according to BayTSP's Jim Graham. "BitTorrent tracker sites recognize that audiobooks are popular enough to have their own special category," he says. While Shanks is firm about proceeding cautiously until he is certain that his authors' works will be protected, Pakman points to consumers' needs as driving the industry. "We believe that audiobook publishers understand that the future of their business is digital," he says. "If they want to expand the market they need to offer their content in a format most desired by consumers - one that can be played on the devices actually owned by customers." According to Pakman, "the only such universally compatible format is MP3."