The mp3 audiobook market has been DRM-free for years, and at least part of the audiobook market is going to follow suit. OverDrive, the leading ebook and audiobook supplier for libraries and institutions, has announced that they’re phasing out the WMA format audiobooks in favor of DRM-free mp3.
Aside from minor vendors like Playaway, OverDrive effectively is the the library audiobook market so today’s news is a big deal. Audiobooks in general, and Amazon/Audible in particular, are the last holdouts for DRM in audio. The mp3 music market is DRM-free, and there are even a couple audiobook retailers that have gone DRM-free (Audiobooks .com and Downpour.com) And now thanks to OverDrive, library audiobooks are completely DRM-free.
Overdrive going DRM-free for libraries is a massive shift in this market, and marks a turning point in the relationship between the publishers/creators and the technology companies that act as conduits and retail channels for their work. It’s especially great that libraries are getting a break, as they have been royally screwed on electronic books and audiobooks up until now.
Now if only we could convince Amazon to let audiobooks go DRM-free, now that would be great. Audible is the lone holdout retailer/distributor that still insists on DRM, but now that they are all alone maybe we will one day see Audible follow suit.
image via Readers Bill of Rights