Back in January, I cancelled my Amazon Prime membership, beginning a process to reduce the number of Amazon services I use. About a month in, I have missed neither Prime Video nor the Prime shipping options. For shopping I've used both Google Shopping and idealo.de to find online shops with good prices, fast shipping, and sensible return policies.
Audible was going to be more challenging to let go of — and I suspected this beforehand. The search for alternatives yielded almost nothing viable for the following reasons:
- Audible have a de facto monopoly on audio book sales.
- Audible are the largest producer of audio books and they sell exclusively in their own shop.
- Prices for audio books outside of Audible are close to prohibitive.
While this means that I won't be able to let go of Amazon for obtaining audio books, there is a silver lining that lets me claim a partial victory:
Getting the media fully under my control is easy, almost trivially so.
Yes, Audible files have copy protection but in the end the AAX file type they're using is just a slightly modified M4B (MPEG-4 Audio Book) file, which in turn is just an AAC audio file with some extras like support for chapter markers.
With a tiny bit of work, I managed to get a personal use backup of the Audible files into Apple's Books app on my iPhone and even onto an old iPod (both using iTunes, of course). Now I won't have to worry about Audible's copy protection locking me out of the media I bought if their licensing servers go down or the company goes under.
Next step: Kindle eBooks…