Library wants to offer books people can’t listen to 8

Do you use an Apple computer? Do you use a Linux based computer? Do you use an Ipod? Do you still use an older version of windows (pre-xp)? Do you only have a cd player? Well if you answered yes to any of these then the Ypsilanti library doesn’t seem to care about you. The Ypsilanti Public Library currently plans to offer a downloadable audio book service to there customers begining next year. Unfortunately they are getting this service from a company called All of netlibrary’s offerings are encoded with Windows media drm (their “plays for sure” tech). Unfortunately if you don’t have xp and don’t have one of the handful of digital audio players (mp3 players) that support this copy protection scheme you are SOL. You can’t listen to these books on a mac or linux machine. You can’t listen to them on an Ipod and you can’t burn them to a cd to listen to in your car. Oh sure there are ways around the protection. No one has ever come up with a copy protection scheme that actually prevents stuff from being copied. But that is a hassle. And since we are paying taxes to support the library, why should we have to deal with that? Approximately 70-80% of all the mp3 players sold to date are ipods (and they are quite inexpensive now starting at $99 for a shuffle). Itunes has about 75-80% of the legit downloadable music market. Clearly the market has spoken and largely rejected devices that use window media. And even if you have a windows media device that is more than about 8 months old or is one of the cheap ones they sell at Target, Wal-mart etc, you are also out of luck because they don’t support plays for sure either.

I would urge all Ypsilanti residents to contact Christy Havens at the library at

Christy Havens
Ypsilanti District Library
5577 Whittaker Road
Ypsilanti, Michigan 48197
734-482-4110 ext. 1375

Voice your displeasure with this plan before it is too late.

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8 thoughts on “Library wants to offer books people can’t listen to

  • Sam

    The survey was done last winter in the library. They had survey sheets to fill out in the audiobook section. I took the survey and I don’t recall it saying that the service would not be ipod compatible. It asked questions like whether you would be interested in such a service, what type of player you have whether you would want to download from home and other questions. I did specify that I would only be interested in s service that was ipod compatible. The survey did ask whether users would consider buying a player if the service was available. But the survey didn’t make the connection that the player would have to be compatible with Microsoft drm. I think that if they specified ipods do not fall into that category a lot less people would be interested. Most people know little or nothing about drm and all the assorted compatability issues. The manufacturers and media companies definitely don’t want people to realize all the restrictions, because they know that if people knew the truth, there would be a major backlash. I am just really disappointed that my tax dollars are going to be spent on a system that will lock out so many potential users.

  • Sue

    Apple Computer Inc.’s iPod uses the Advanced Audio Coding format with FairPlay,a digital rights management system and one incompatible with Windows’ technology. Digital Rights Management is used for protecting copyrights and permissions for electronic resources, and Apple has no plans to change their current format. Users of iPods may listen to books purchased through or the Apple iTunes Music Store, but will not at this time allow library services.

  • Sam

    I am familiar with the fairplay drm that itunes uses. It is different from windows media drm but it is not incompatible with windows. Ipods and itunes work just fine with windows. I don’t really wan’t to get into whether apple should license their fairplay drm, since that was not my point. I have a couple of issues. Since upwards of 75% of all digital audio players in use are ipod devices and are incompatible with windows drm I believe it is foolish and inappropriate for my local public library to spend our tax dollars on a audiobook system that most of their potential users cannot use. If an ipod compatible system is not available, then I would rather see the library spend the money on more cd based books or print books or something else that is needed and useful.

    Additionally the argument about DRM being used to protect copyrights and permissions is a falacy. There has never been a copy protection scheme created yet that has not been circumvented. DRM schemes do not stop anyone from distributed copyrighted works as can be easily seen by looking at what is available on any file sharing system or walking down the street of just about any major city. Pirated works have always been there and always will. Major media companies are scrambling to drm in a vain attempt to protect obsolete business models and they will ultimately fail. The only people stopped by drm are legimate users who are not technically savvy enough to get around them. These people end up buying protected cds and getting ripped when they realize they can’t play them in their car or on their computer or put the music on their ipods. They get punished because they tried to do the right thing and got screwed by some wrong headed media executive. I have the capability to use these audiobooks and get them on my ipod anyway, because I know how. But I am fairly certain that most of the users of the library don’t and they and I shouldn’t have to. This is just plain dumb.

    I could go on and I will in future posts but my main point here was about the library spending money on something that most potential users won’t be able to use.