Nostalgic Rumblings
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September 2007
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The Big Read…or rather The Big Listen

Filed under: General, Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 9:43 am

This morning on The Bob Edwards Show, David Kipen promoted XM’s new collaboration with the National Endowment for the Arts, The Big Read. Mr. Kipen is very, very enthusiastic, and I certainly understand why since having XM promote the program dramatically increases the number of people who know about it. But let me give you the other side of the coin, one Mr. Kipen either isn’t aware of, or frankly doesn’t care about since his focus is not on the radio side.

First, let’s examine the entire idea that books-on-tape promote literacy. Horse-pucky…books-on-tape are entertaining, and great for those long commutes, but they have nothing whatsoever to do with literacy. We as a society read less and less, and salving our souls by saying, “well, I heard a book the other day…” is just plain silly.

So why would XM make this collaboration with the NEA? Oh, heck, that’s simple; they want to make money. I saw this nonsense coming long before now, ever since the marketing agreement with Audible begat the annoying This Is Audible sales-pitch masquerading as a radio program. Audible, for those who have just returned from the 1980’s, is the company that has made a fortune making books-on-tape available to the Internet masses for a fee, complete with restrictive Digital Rights Management designed to limit the freedom the customer has with the items they purchase. (I will never understand why the modern consumer is so determined to allow businesses to dictate to them what they may and may not do with the items they purchase, but there it is.) This collaboration is a method for XM to promote their partner Audible and to make money of purchases made through the company…it’s pretty much that simple.

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