A month after signing on, Penguin Audio has pulled out of eMusic’s DRM-free Audiobooks offering, the NYT reports. Penguin Audio’s Dick Heffernan blames “higher-ups” (Penguin is owned by Pearson) for nixing the deal — apparently they weren’t cool with selling audiobooks in unprotected MP3 format, after all.
Again, we think publishers’ skittishness about dropping DRM locks is silly here — particularly since eMusic uses a subscription model, which should generate enough revenue to overcome any piracy/cannibalization concerns.
In the meantime, one of the few big publishers who has agreed to work with eMusic actually has the most incentive not to do so: Bertelsmann’s Random House says results so far have been “really encouraging”. That’s particularly high praise given that Bertelsmann owns 5% of audiobook competitor Audible.com and has has two members on Audible’s board. NYT
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