Mostly Everything

Some… wait. MORE realizations about Audiobooks, DRM and Neil Gaiman

Fragile Things

There’s something bugging me. When I started subscribing to Audible three months ago, I noticed that my search field for books greatly diminishes when I’m logged in. For instance, when I do a search for Neil Gaiman on Audible without signing in, I get a good size of his past works including Anansi Boys, Neverwhere, “M” is for Magic, and Fragile Things. Oh Fragile Things – this is what started it all. I logged into my account thinking I could buy the audio which was one of his great compilations of short stories (sort of like Smoke and Mirrors) and … and … the book just disappears! Is Fragile Things channeling David Blaine?! It sucks even more that this book is read by Neil Gaiman himself and I can’t download it!

I emailed and this is the answer I got:

When you are not logged into the web site, you are browsing anonymously. This means that the web site can not determine your geographic location. When publishers decide to publish a work, they acquire the rights to distribute that title in certain parts of the globe. Sometimes they buy “world” rights, but frequently the rights for a book are split among several companies, each of whom publish for certain countries. As a distributor, we need to abide by the restrictions that publishers assume when they publish a work.

So the titles that are listed are ALL titles that we offer world wide. When you log in with a username and password,the web site can now determine your location, and automatically removes titles that are restricted to that region.

I'm logged out! So many books!

The statement: Digital distribution is part of Digital Rights Management (DRM). If you access Audible from another part of the world, you can’t buy some titles because of the publisher limitations. With physical books, the bookstore tries to track books that are unavailable for you. It may take weeks but they usually get it. With audiobooks, why is it seemingly more frustrating?

This is the same with the hard-headedness of iTunes Store that still isn’t open in the Philippines. OK that was a rant. So what I did was I thanked Audible for their prompt reply and went to Neil Gaiman’s blog. I emailed Cat Mihos (the one in charge of the more serious stuff) and asked about publisher rights. From what I know, the author has not that big a control over where his works can appear – this is the publisher’s thing.

So there. I hope I get a reply soon. Dear Neil, if you’re reading this, send some love over and allow us folks from the Philippines to listen to your audiobooks. You love it here anyway right? 🙂

P.S. The only fully decent audiobook available in the Philippines via Audible is Interworlds. It’s not even read by him. Plus it’s a collaboration. Sad sad sad.

Brain fart: What if I surf under a proxy server that pretends I’m from the USA? I tried. But failed thus far. Even changing the country settings on the profile doesn’t work. Hah!

By Jayvee Fernandez

Jayvee Fernandez is a tech enthusiast, EAN certified SCUBA Diver and underwater photographer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. His photos and videos have appeared in various international and local publications including Random House Germany, Discovery Channel Canada, and CNN.

8 replies on “Some… wait. MORE realizations about Audiobooks, DRM and Neil Gaiman”

Neil’s voice is nothing short of enchanting. I remember recording the radio show segment they did in NU107 with him and got it playing it on repeat afterwards. For how many days this mania went on, I think I lost count. So yeah, Fragile Things being read by Neil himself is sure to be teh lurv.

I have an mp3 copy of A Study in Emerald, read by Neil himself. It’s just lovely. I can just imagine what whole books of his would be like.

to bad audible sucks at sharing more books. haha. i downloaded the A Study in Emerald using a link in Neil’s site. Maybe you could try email him about the rights of the book, using his Ask Neil page?

hi Alexis,

that’s actually what I did, but im still waiting for a reply. Maybe I should just email HIM instead of the person in charge of the PR.

nothing to lose. 🙂

I can see Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things on iTunes for $21.95(presented by and I can see the Buy Now button there and I’m not even from USA.

@L.A. : i also realized that the iTunes store sells the book at a much higher price, $24.00 while my subscription only costs $7.00 – $14.00 for the book credit 🙂

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