Sunday 12 September 2010

Downloading Audible Books and Linux

Audible ( is an online shop where you can download audiobooks in various formats.

Rating: 1/5 (From the view of a linux user)
  • Supports Windows and Mac
  • Provides a try before you buy service
  • Does not support Linux
  • Uses Proprietary .aa file format, which limits MP3 players you can use.
I selected Cabin Pressure from the BBC website - it said that the file was MP3 / Protected AAC.

I have a Linux computer, and a Sony MP3 player, so wanted the MP3.

I selected the Premium 14 day free trial, and created an account, and noted that on the same page, it is stated:

"We only need your credit card details to verify your identity and prove you are over eighteen, you will not be charged during your free trial. You can cancel anytime by calling us on 0800 08 25 100 or by going online. Even if you cancel, you can still keep your free downloads."

Only after I created the account, I found that I had to download a Windows application - which I did, using the Windows emulator on Linux (wine).

I then found that the files are downloaded in some .aa format, and not MP3 as I originally expected. I did try the download on a friend's Windows machine, and I could play the files on the machine itself, but not get them onto my MP3 player.

I decided that I would take you up on the offer of cancelling online anytime, as you quoted before I checked-out.

When I tried, I got the following message:

"You cannot cancel as you have already accepted free credits."

After logging out and back in again and re-trying the cancellation, I got the following message:

"Cancellation Number: 3775724C222M5 At the end of this billing period, you will no longer be able to buy at AudibleListener prices, but will still be able to download any audio programmes you have previously purchased and place new orders at full, non-member prices. Remember, if you change your mind and want to reinstate your membership, your account information will remain open. You can rejoin at any time through our website or Customer Service."

So, it appears that Audible only works with Windows or Macs, and only supports a limited range of MP3 players. There are programs out there to remove the DRM limitations of the .aa file format, such as GoldWave, iSkySoft, SoundTaxiPro and tunebite, however I just wanted the MP3s, and did not want to have to jump through hoops (and buy a Windows PC) to get the tracks. To give Audible some credit, at least they have a 14 day trial period, so I've just wasted a day, rather than money!