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penguinbooks Wouldn’t you know it? Just as the Holtzbrinck interests are insisting on encryption for Jeff Gomez’s terrific, DRM-skeptical book, Penguin’s top bosses are stubbornly demanding that the technology keep infesting Penguin audio books.

Penguin Audio Ends EMusic Deal is the headline in today’s New York Times, and, yes, DRM is the villain. The bosses overruled the clueful guys below them.

“At this moment we’re not going to have our titles on eMusic or with anyone else who sells non-DRM until the landscape shakes out and we feel very comfortable and confident that our titles will not be pirated,” the Times quotes Dick Heffernan, publisher of Penguin Audio.

Hello, Penguin? The very same Times article report that a piracy monitoring firm has not found a problem with Random House audiobooks from eMusic being pirated. What’s more, eMusic is said to be selling more than 500 audio books a day, twice expectations.

Mightn’t Penguin be costing its shareholders a pretty penny, long term, while letting rivals get the upper hand at this key time for audio books?Now, what about e-books? How soon until Random wises up about DRM at Holtzbrinck’s expense?

What’s truly, truly irrational is that the big book publishers are not even undertaking small-scale experimentation right now with a DRM-free approach or with social DRM. Must ideology come ahead of business?

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