Google launches a DRM-free audiobook store: finally, a writer- and listener-friendly Audible alternative!

Originally published at:

A decade ago, when Amazon acquired Audible, the two companies promised that they’d phase out their DRM, which locked listeners into using their proprietary software and devices to enjoy the books they purchased. Audible never made good on that promise, and stonewalled press queries and industry requests about when, exactly, this fairtrade version of their industry-dominating audiobook store would finally emerge.


This might be the link that was missing from the article, information about the Google audiobook store itself : “Ok Google, read my book”… Introducing audiobooks on Google Play but it’s from January 2018 which makes me think it’s not the event that @doctorow is talking about in this post.


you sure? that article is from Jan 23 and says nothing about DRM. Boing Boing, where is the link to the new store!?


Oh. Good point, ya now I’m even more confused. @doctorow can you link to more information about the Google audiobook thing? I don’t see anything on the internet about this other than the blog post from January.

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He’ll probably wait to give the link until his books are up on the store LOL

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Don’t know why you say the books are DRM-free. I just checked for a book that I’m waiting for on Audible which releases Tuesday and it is available on Google Play but shows up as “This content is DRM protected.”


We’ll see I guess, we need more audiobook competition. Currently, I try to get my audiobooks from which is also DRM free.

Cory, well done!

I have to say that Cory is missing some information here. I bought “Winter Tide” by Ruthanna Emrys from Google Play and discovered that I can play it on my phone or tablet, but I could not download the title, back them up or anything other than use the Google-blessed player. I just now discovered that if you use a browser and view ‘My books’ that there is an export option that allows you to extract the m4a file from Google. Totally not obvious.
I have had a membership from Downpour for ages and use the excellent audiobook player for everything I buy. The few times I have had to resort to buying something from Audible, I used instructions available on the Internet to download and convert the title I own to back it up.


I just bought an audiobooks from Google Play and I couldn’t download it. I’m not sure where these DRM-free audiobooks are.

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I have to agree that the content of this article and the lack of useful information regarding the “new” Google Play audiobook service really left me scratching my head. :thinking: I created an account just to leave this comment.

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@doctorow is your new book called “Unauthorized Bread” or “Authorized Bread”?

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I get this when I search for “DRM” at -

Export the audio version
If you download the M4A format for your audiobook, you’ll be able to transfer the file to another device or >app.

On your computer, open Google Play Books.
Click My books and then Audiobooks.
On the book you want to download, click More and then Export.
Note: Some audiobooks may not be available for export. Open the book’s details page, scroll to the >Additional information and check under “Export option.”

So it seems the DRM free/ “available for export” is available, for some books and presumably all or more going forward.

I am in Melbourne Australia and for our local library, Overdrive will provide downloadable eBooks in Mp3 which I can put straight on a USB for listening in the car (via PC desktop). And although it is tied to their player “Libby” the mobile app seems quite user friendly for listening to audiobooks - currently listening to the BBC radio production of " Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul" from the library. However I don’t know what the authors side of the deal is with Libby. I always reflect on that idea from freakanomics - if it was a new idea, would libraries be allowed de novo in 2018?

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No “Walkaway”. =(

finally a solution that allows me to give more of my data to my favorite overlords!

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The Handmaid’s Tale:


I understand that licensing now allows for DRM-free export of audiobooks if this is covered by the contract with the publisher. I wrongly assumed all audiobooks were now DRM-free.

Still, I whish more audiobooks in English were available on Spotify in continental Europe. While I enjoy owning things, especially books, I usually don’t enjoy owning audio books. I simply listen to most of them exactly once. Spotify would be great for this, really like radio on demand. However, licensing. Colour me dissapoint. Or something deep crimson with blue veins.

OP: “Google has just launched a DRM-free audiobook store that duplicates nearly the entire catalog at Audible.”

I’m not sure how this is possible, unless you discount Indie and Amazon imprints, the vast majority of which sign a minimum seven-year exclusive contract with Audible.

Those titles account for 1/3 of all Audible titles and 1/4 of all Audible sales in dollars. I’m not sure how to reconcile that with “duplicates nearly the entire catalog at Audible.” Even if you decide to make that phrase “catalog of titles that matter”, since that subsection accounts for more than a quarter of the inventory consumers choose to spend their money on, it stretches the definition of “entire” beyond it’s breaking point.

The majority of titles? Maybe. But it’s definitely not close to the entire catalog.

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Finally! I’ve been trying to find alternative apps and tools that does something exactly like this. As an avid reader and listener, I am definitely looking forward to using this.


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