audible.com itunes stupidity

Ages ago, I got an Audible membership. Three days each week, I walk about half an hour to the bus and about half an hour home. For most of the year, I can spend that time reading a book. In the winter, though, it’s just too cold. My fingers freeze, even if I read with one hand in my pocket and switch back and forth. Audible sells audiobooks, and I can listen to them on my iPod while I walk. They have a subscription model where get one or two credits each month, and each credit can be exchanged for one book. Sometimes, this is an okay deal: you pay $15 per month and get a $25 copy of the abridged version of a popular novel. Sometimes, it is a great deal: you get a $40 copy of a twenty-five hour classic.

I cancelled my old membership when winter ended, but my sister got me a gift certificate for Christmas (because I’d asked for one) and I signed up again. I got in on a promotional rate of about $7 per month. This week, I downloaded the 41 hour unabridged audiobook of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, volume one… for $7.

Audible lets you download files in their .aa format, which is basically an MP3 wrapped up in some DRM. I’m not a fan of restricted media files, but Audible has such good deals that I don’t mind. iTunes has a plugin that lets you authorize your computer to play your Audible tracks. Ever since I rejoined, it’s been giving me grief: I try to play a track and I have to re-enter my password. After that, all my Audible files will play until I quit, when I have to re-enter my password again.

It’s not some easy six character password, either, it’s a big monster generated by 1Password.

I was concerned that I’d broken something in my account, the way I broke things (I think) by stripping PPC and certain languages from Mail.app. I hadn’t touched anything since I reinstalled, though! Why was this happening?

I had a heck of a time finding information on this until I stumbled across this blog post that pointed out the undisclosed fact that when you authorize iTunes to play your Audible content, you must be logged in as an administrator. I have no idea why. Maybe it stores your token somewhere in /Library. I am pretty damned sure that no matter what the reason, the reason is stupid.

Anyway, I’m pretty annoyed at Audible about this, but not annoyed enough to write them off forever. I mean, even at their normal rate, $15 for a forty hour audiobook is a pretty great deal. Maybe I’ll even stay subscribed through the summer, this year.

Written on February 4, 2008
security   software   stupid