The company that has given Apple’s iTunes the most competition in the song-download arena will now compete with it in selling audiobooks, too.
eMusic will offer more than 1,000 books for download, with many of them costing far less than on iTunes. For example, The Audacity of Hope, read by author Barack Obama, will cost $9.99 (Rs405) on eMusic, compared with $18.95 on iTunes. The retail price for a five-CD version of the book is $29.95.
The biggest selling point for eMusic is also its biggest point of controversy: The site uses the MP3 format, which works on any digital player but lacks the technology—known as digital rights management—that protects copyrighted material from unlimited duplication. By contrast, iTunes only works on an iPod, and songs downloaded from the service can be burned on to a CD only once and cannot be transmitted over the Internet.
eMusic’s lack of piracy protection is the reason no major music label has signed on with it, and why only a few audiobook publishers have so far. But the site is enormously popular: Although dwarfed by Apple, which has 71% of the music-download market, eMusic, which has 10%, still sells more than twice as many songs as competitors such as Napster, Rhapsody and Walmart.com.