Nathan Bransford, Author


Saturday, February 28, 2009

Breaking: Amazon Will Give Authors Choice on Text to Speech

In a late Friday night news brief from Publishers Lunch (why yes, I'm checking publishing news at 11:30 pm. What else would I be doing on a Friday night??), Amazon has announced that they will allow authors to decide on a title-by-title basis whether they would like a computerized voice to be able to read their work on the Kindle 2.

Big big news. Amazon still asserts that it's legal, but suggests that authors will be more comfortable if they have the choice. They're working on the techno gizmo alterations as we speak.

[Pub Lunch]






59 comments:

Martin Willoughby said...

Still legal, but they're giving the authors a choice? Hmmmm.

Any takers on a bet that there will be a lawsuit within six months?

Adam Heine said...

I see 3 options. (1) Authors sue because it's not what they want (i.e. they want to get paid for audio rights), (2) authors all opt-out and Amazon has to look at the issue again, or (3) some authors opt in; those that do look like scabs, those that don't look like jerks.

(3) seems pretty likely, and probably what Amazon is hoping for because it moves the trouble from them to the authors.

kymbrunner said...

Tricky situation. I love buying audio books but they're SO much more expensive than paper or electronic books. And Audible.com, which has automatic electronic transfer of audio books to an MP3 player, doesn't have the latest books transferred onto audio.

What if there was a separate, nominal charge per book for the audio feature that Kindle didn't get a piece of? Would that make everyone happy?

beth said...

I wonder what will happen if, say, an author wants to have the voice reader and the publisher disagrees?

Eugenia Tibbs said...

I was talking to someone last night, about books and series that we enjoyed. He was pretty sad that he hadn't been able to read anything new lately. He has MS and his eyesight is starting to fail him. I told him about the new Kindles and he was pretty excited about them.

the Amateur Book Blogger said...

"Computerized voice" sounds something like C3PO reading a text aloud without understanding what it is reading - Does this compares with a smoothly produced and polished audio performance of the book read by a real person? It might be a fine line - but I don't think it's the same thing.

And I'm surprised by all the fuss- it's not new functionality. If I pull up a book available online, even if not for download, my computer can read it aloud now if I select the 'audio on' function.

I don't think the listening experience will be close to true audio, and those who currently buy audio books will still want that quality - not an aid for those who may not be able to read it.

Kindles are providing a new channel for distribution - publishers and authors guild et al need to stop blocking, get on board and help shape its path, or risk being left behind.

Amity said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amity said...

I think this is a very considerate solution. If the author isn't comfortable, then it's not there. Well done, Amazon.

Personally, I'm hoping many authors are comfortable. My husband does brain-computer interface research for patients with Lou Gehrig's disease. These people have lost control over their bodies -- eventually can't even speak -- but they have complete control of their minds. Many other diseases also prevent reading. And I've heard the computer voice--it's awful, unless it's the only way you CAN read/speak. Until we have sentient software (ha), there is no way we can come close to the quality of audio books. With these patients' medical expenses, audio books are prohibitive in cost if they wish to hear several a week. But, with a Kindle controlled by their other medical software, they can at least spend their last days in a more interesting way.

Writer from Hell said...

Can someone listen to an audio book? I'm sure I'm outdated. But you know adults like to 'read' a book - chidren like 'listening' to stories!

Or is it like listening to radio or watching TV? Then why a book, I would rather watch a program>> beats me!

Chris Eldin said...

On the surface, I think this sounds like a great idea.

But knowing my kids, they'd play a piece, stop, mock it, then rewind and do it all over again...

lotusgirl said...

Interesting turn of events. Thanks for the heads up.

Laurel Corona said...

I'm a published author (both SMP and Hyperion) and I will definitely opt in for two reasons. First, I would like people with disabilities to be able to listen to my books and not have this depend on an audio publisher to decide to produce it in that medium. Second, how many people who bought the e-book would then go out and buy the audiobook too? If the answer is "not many," sales haven't really been impacted by the read-to-me feature, since no potential audio sale has actually been lost. (And wouldn't it be nice if audio sales INCREASED because people didn't like the affectless computer voice but liked being read to? Just a thought!)

jimnduncan said...

Sadly, I think Adam is right. I would hope authors and publishers would band together and refuse the text to speech, just on principle alone. I realize it's a bummer for those who truly need and make use of text to speech functions, but this is something of a precedent setting time for all of this new technology, and if we fail to do it the right way before it becomes a problem, we'll be screwed when it does. Because, at some point not far down the road here, text to speech is going to be real enough for the masses to not really care about if an actor is reading the book or not. Convenience will win out, and pubs and authors will find themselves on the short end of the stick regarding audio rights. What I think is likely to happen in the foreseeable future (I'm no techie btw) is that when this technology matures, the good voice stuff will become some kind of premium add-on over the blah stuff. And guess who won't see any money from that? Unfortunately, writers are not a unified lot, and many will offer their books with text thinking it will offer them a leg up in sales over those who don't. So, I hope there's a lawsuit coming here from somewhere. If anything, to establish a standard/policy that will allow for authors to get paid for audio rights as this technology grows and becomes more viable.

And now for shameless plugging. Check out my wife's lovely new debut romance, on shelves now, at:

www.tracymadison.com

Enjoy!

Claudette said...

I think this is a great feature for the disabled, but agree with the person questioning if a computerized voice can/will provide a satisfactory experience. As an author, I wouldn't want to have no control of the quality of this product.

Haste yee back ;-) said...

I vote, all authors opt out and leave Amazon holding the bag... Authors have to fight for every digital right. If the issue is quality of voice, believe me, in the future, they'll have a variety of voices so soothing they'd melt butter.

Authors, don't give anything away. Fight for every penny... This argument, or a variant thereof, was the basis of the WGA strike when the big studios said, "Screenwriters, take of hit on this new VHS technology because we don't know how to monetize it yet. So play ball with us... guess who took it in the shorts for 20 yrs. Yep, writers!

Every time they use your words, SO ME THE MONEY!

Haste yee back ;-)

Haste yee back ;-) said...

Excuse me, got got my blood up there...

should read...

SHOW ME THE MONEY!

Haste yee back ;-)

Madison said...

There is a part of me that says this is cool and the other part says not so much.

- said...

Wonder how the people who do voice-overs for a living feel about this?

Robert A Meacham said...

Cool idea, but I am more interested in voice recognition where you speak and the program types what you say.

Scott said...

With the economic crisis looming large over just about everyone's head, it's a little out of my jurisdiction to even be considering the efficacy and legal ramifications of technology that very few save the most avid readers and tech-heads among us can afford.

Not to say it isn't interesting, but I haven't even thought about a Kindle lately. Anyone know how their sales are doing? Nathan? I'm very curious. Of course, most of these issues need to be addressed regardless, but I'm looking at used books and the library, not an expensive electronic device that basically has one function that I don't actually need..

Multi-functional multimedia devices might absorb this technology and be the big winner if Amazon and Sony's other ventures can't float their readers for a few years.

Marilyn Peake said...

Whoa, a brand new blog post on the weekend? Cool.

I’m guessing that the economy had a huge influence on Amazon’s decision to allow authors to decide whether or not to have the voice feature included on their Kindle books. Right now, in this economy, as Amazon tries to launch the Kindle 2.0, they aren’t going to want bad publicity or lawsuits. A few years ago, when the economy wasn’t in such dire straits, Amazon purchased Mobipocket and simply removed all eBooks in non-Mobipocket format from their website...which forced publishers to pay the cost of manpower to reformat their entire inventory of eBooks into Mobipocket format if they wanted them to continue to be offered for sale on Amazon. Having the voice feature removed from the Kindle doesn’t remove that feature from the eBook itself because that feature still exists on computers, and has been used that way for years by handicapped people needing to have books read to them. Sometimes a rough economy is the best time to negotiate. It seems that authors were in a better position to negotiate with Amazon this time around. :)

Steve Fuller said...

If it gives more access to people with disabilities (i.e. the blind), then I am all for it.

I mean, have you heard the quality? No one is going to listen to a book on the Kindle unless they have to.

Some things are more important than money.

Nathan Bransford said...

Regarding disabilities, I think we're all sympathetic to how improved technology could help out people with disabilities. But as the author's guild point out, publishers, authors and copyright law have long provided for free access to audiobooks for the blind, and I think everyone is for expanding access. It doesn't mean, though, Amazon has to provide this technology to everyone.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for going back to the old format, Nathan.

You rock!

But what changed your mind?

And yeah, I think we're all for free audio for the blind or handicapped.
Currently, I am reading a book about Border Collies out loud to my poor sick dog. It's pretty dry reading, but an animated voice can make the livestock reports exciting.

Also, one of my writers groups WON'T let the members just read out loud, because the facilitator has a theory that the author reading their own material can make anything better and that writers need more response to their written form, as is.

What does anyone think of that?

Robert A Meacham said...

When I heard Bela Lugosi recite "The Raven", that did not take away from Edgar Allan Poe. I think people make too much from nothing or everyone has and are entitled to their opinion.

Ink said...

Anon 12:42,

I always preferred reading a hardcopy beforehand for critting, and for a number of reasons.

1) Good readers can "read over" textual problems. Clunky dialogue wording may sound okay when read by someone who knows the intent, rhythms can reflect the voice of the writer rather than the voice of the prose, etc.

2) Bad readers are harmed by people critting their vocal performances rather than the writing. A beautiful, rhythmic line on the page may sound chunky and awful when awkwardly intoned by some shy and mumbling reader.

3) Book readers will not usually have an audio version. Agents and editors certainly won't. It only makes sense to crit the type of story that people will actually receive.

4)It's much harder to crit a story being read out loud than it is one you're reading on the page. The performance skews the perception of the text (see 1 and 2 above), and the crit is also bound to the temporal process of the reading. You get one brief moment to comprehend... and then it's gone. Want to stop and take a note? You'll probably miss something else in the story. You also lose the spatial perception of the story. Is it crowded and dense, or loose and flowing? Do words repeat? Sometimes hard to catch in a reading. And you lose the details. Is that a period stop, or a colon? Commas and rhythm? The flow of the prose? Diction? Is something confusing... and why? In a hardcopy you can reread and check, you have time to consider, to figure out what's wrong... in a verbal performance you're tied to a first impression. If you have a chance to read you can think, reflect, give yourself time to ponder, time for the subconscious to absorb and toss around the story. And it's also easier to dissociate yourself from the feelings you might hold to the actual person. Maybe they write great stories but annoy you in real life... harder to ignore that when they're reading than it is with lines of generic Times New Roman playing down a page.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. Though I should add that reading out loud can be helpful to the author... allowing them to hear the stumbles in their own writing, the moments where the prose dips into awkwardness.

My best, as always,
Ink

Anonymous said...

Those are really good points, Ink.
I appreciate hearing what others think too.
Thanks.

Anon

Anonymous said...

Also, some things are so much FUN to read out loud! Everyone can interpret it classically or originally.
I think o the rant of the three witches in Hamlet...

And like Robert A M also noted, with Poe.

Reading can add or detract I think.

I personally love to hear an author read passionately. Or anyone else for that matter.

Some of the notes given on autoread dullness are really bad for the writing too.

Probably, for the most part, a book is read in the reader's mind. The out loud part is for drama, fun, or utility.

Is it the written word or the spoken that sparkles? Perhaps sometimes one or the other in some works and just one, predominates in others

Margaret Yang said...

So...Nathan. Will you advise your authors to opt in or opt out?

Haste yee back ;-) said...

Authors... the subject at hand here is not about a melifulous voice reading your words! This is about, "a Legal Right!" One that's included in your copyright. Your copyright is your ownership. Why would you give up, or dismiss, a right that at the present level of technology is worthless because it "sounds bad" but in the future may bring profits to your royalty statement? True, we don't know that it will, but we sure as hell don't know that it won't.
Right this minute you could throw a stick on Santa Monica beach and hit ten out-of-work actors who could read a How To - diaper change pamphlet that'd make you cry. SO WHAT?
Please keep in mind we're talking about a right here that could generate money for you, your children and your estate!

For once, authors, grow some NADS!
Remember... if it ain't on the page, it ain't on the stage. You, Mr./Ms. Writer, are the creator of all this entertainment! Own it, OWN IT NOW AND FOREVER!

Haste yee back ;-)

Bane of Anubis said...

BR, I disagree with you on the aural take - true, bad readers can overshadow good writing (but if it's his writing, god, I'd hope he'd be able to convey what the heck he means if it's any good), but if it's bad writing, no amount of enthusiasm can mask it.

That is, IMO, it's easier to pass over bad writing (e.g., adverbs) when viewed versus heard. I remember listening to a professional audiobook of an unnamed YA author who had the following line: "She savored the savory meat..." which, when read by eye, I'd probably identify a certain adjective as unnecessary, but when heard aloud, made me want to stop my car, pull out the tape, and rip it to shreds.

Also, I kind of like the idea of getting the first impression, b/c that's what most people are gonna take from something, whether visual or aural. I don't buy into the idea of remaining as impartial as possible when critting something - emotional feedback is critical, IMO, b/c potential agents/publishers/readers/listeners aren't gonna give you or me a second chance if we screw it up the 1st time.

Of course, your points about the medium agents/publishers receive makes the written word more important than the spoken, but I wholly believe that the aural standard is a better (and tougher) metric than the visual one (obviously not for things like grammar/punctuation, but definitely for pacing and sensicality) for determining the quality of one's writing (although, on 2nd thought, this might be applicable to commercial fiction more so than literary).

Though, as you referenced, I'd do both... and, who knows, maybe the future of Kindling will involve authors self-audioing their books instead of digital interpretors :)

deannachase said...

Writer From Hell,
"Can someone listen to an audio book? I'm sure I'm outdated. But you know adults like to 'read' a book - chidren like 'listening' to stories!

Or is it like listening to radio or watching TV? Then why a book, I would rather watch a program>> beats me!"

I am an avider reader of actual books, but I also listen to audio versions when I am doing something else, like driving, or torching (I am a hot glass worker).

I also think there is a lot to learn while listening to an audio version of a novel, as far as the craft goes.

I would much rather listen to my audio books interpreted by a human. I don't think I could make it though a computerized one (at least the way the technology is today).

Ink said...

B of A,

I definitely think you can do both, do it. You're an extra step ahead of the game if you can get crit both ways. But I think in reading you get both a first impression and a second... and a third, fourth, etc., as might be needed. You have a chance to react... and then you have a chance to analyze. Thus you have the opportunity for an emotional reaction as well as deeper reflection. It's hard, say, to evaluate structure in a vocal reading.

And I've been to a lot of readings, both of poetry and prose. Trust me, a performer can make boring words dance. Voice, tone, rhythm, flow... it can be brought by a performer to something that doesn't have it. I have seen a ton of performance poets who've mastered breathy and dramatic styles full of pauses and inflections and beautiful rhythms... and then you see the poem on the page and none of that is there. It's like listening to music. You hear a song, it moves and effects you, it breaks your heart... and then you look at the lyrics, and they go "Oh baby, I love you, I miss you so much, oh baby, how can I get you back, oh baby I'm blue..." And you realize the lyrics are terrible and yet they were irrelevant because of the performance.

Conversely, I've seen a lot of brilliant writers who are terrible readers. Yes, I've heard bestselling literary writers who couldn't read a dramatic sentence if their hair was on fire. I've seen some really bad readings... and yet on the page...

I think it's harder to cheat in print. It's there in front of the reader, naked and alone. Yes, hearing something out loud can allow you to hear a trip in the language... but a good critter will see that too. And a lot of it will always come down to just that - how good are the critters? A great critter will probably be great regardless of the form (and some might lean to one form or the other), but I think there will be more depth to a critique of the page than to a vocal performance.

But if you can get both...

My best, as always,
Bryan Russell

Newbee said...

Having a computer voice read to me sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard. That doesn't appeal in anyway to me. I would gladly pay the $35.00-$45.00 for a professional person to read the work in a professional manner. I see it as cheap entertainment personally. If people can enjoy a book that way, good for them. The dramatics is huge for me. I'd pass.

Kim Stagliano said...

Anyone remember the radio voice of "Carlos" on WBCN in the 70s/80s on Charles Laqidera's "Big Mattress?" You would not want Carlos reading an entire book to you. Same goes for Stephen Hawking. Genius. Yes. Book reader? Not so much. But for visually impaired readers to have an economical altenative to audio books for EVERY book they want? I think that's pretty cool. Think about Kindle2 for the elderly. Huge font if needed and readability of ANY book without having to leave the home or nursing home. I love how Kindle will make books more accessible.

I just got my Kindle2 a few days ago. The sample a book feature is amazing. I think I'll Kindle the books I would have read from the library and continue to by print books by my fav authors. I'll end up buying more "books" with Kindle2.

KIM

Simon Haynes said...

"Can someone listen to an audio book?"

I can't stand them, even in the car. The information travels to my brain far too slowly, and I get bored after three sentences.

Same reason I ignore audio and video news reports littering online newspapers these days. The 'printed' word is king.

Vancouver Dame said...

Thanks, Nathan for the late breaking news. At least this gives the authors a choice of how their work is offered to the public. Does this mean the author will gain any additional revenue since the reader option makes the book available to a wider audience (i.e., the sight and physically challenged groups)?

As for legality, there are varying degrees, and this may be a minor concession on Amazon's part to forstall future litigation.

BTW - I'm assuming these readers are equipped with earphones of some sort so as not to add to the noise pollution that already exists from our techno toys.

Bane of Anubis said...

Bryan,

I definitely put poets and musicians in a different bag (one into which I won't try to delve because my understanding is next to nil). Performers can definitely put sheen on s***, but from what I've seen, it's harder to do that with stories/novels - though, as you point out, bad readers can mitigate the quality of their works (which, if commercially slanted, baffles me).

B/C people primarily read over listening, I'll defer to the visual metric, though I'd still prefer audio cues to help me refine the process.

And you're definitely right about a good critic being able to spot the issues, regardless of medium.

Cheers.

Cass said...

See, it is smart to check back on the weekend. I just knew if there was something important enough you would not wait for Monday.

I don't think a computerized voice can put life or passion behind the words, and hope that is not anything I would have to get used to.

Kim Stagliano said...

OK, I'm hooked. I just used the speech feature to read a Hans Christian Anderson story to my two older girls. They have autism. They were enthralled - and my 12 year old was following along with the words. The lack on intonation and pacing probably sounded very familiar to their ears because of their autism. I can see us enjoying books together with this feature. Yeah, I'm hooked. I'd be happy to pay for the feature too, if Amazon changes their policy. I don't want to take anything away from writers - or their agents. ;)

Off to read the latest Charlaine Harris. I scrolled through the NYT best sellers list. Found her book. And now it's waiting for me in my room. This is VERY cool.

K

Lynne said...

I hate audio books and always will. If I can read faster than the person who did the tape [I can] forget it.

A computerized voice would drive me wild.

Scott said...

There's a reading of The Last Trail on Book Radio that is wholly insufferable thanks to identical readings of every line by the narrator, with this horrible, announcery affectation. Seriously, it nearly made me drive off the road to end my life so I didn't have to hear another word. And then I realized I could just turn it off.

I've heard excellent audio books, and really, really bad ones. Tricky to get right, I would imagine.

Maripat said...

I have a Kindle 2 and trust me the Text To Speech program is nothing like the audio books. I see Amazon's version as a device for the visually impaired. Very primitive. I think my husband's Garmin has more personality than the K2.

Now if they were to improve the voice system so it added tone and inflection...? Maybe I could see their point as to why it rivals audio books. I know you say there is a system set up for free audio books for the blind, but in the past I've found them very limited when it came to a selection. Same thing with large print books.

I personally bought the reader just to read by and would never use it to listen to. I love to read, and I'm not a huge fan of any audio book. Though yes, I was curious to hear the K2 after hearing about the ruckus over audio rights.

Anyway, these are just my thoughts on this conundrum.

Mandy said...

Is the technology to the point where you could embed an MP3 in the text and then give the reader the option of listening to a "bonus feature?"

Barbara Webb said...

Have any of the people worried about authors losing money listened to a computer read a narrative lately? It's painful.

Computers can't read books well. This is completely an accessibility issue and no competition for real ebooks.

Computers will not be able to read books well for a very, very long time. The amount of AI intelligence necessary to do a good performance of a book -- it's just not on the horizon. Teaching computers how to inflect words and pitch up at the end of questions is nothing close to what you need to have the computer brain actually understand the text well enough to interpret it.

As a writer, I'm all for getting paid, but this strikes me as the same level of ignorance that tried to ban player pianos and keep VCRs off the market.

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...

Re: "Is the technology to the point where you could embed an MP3 in the text and then give the reader the option of listening to a "bonus feature?"

Mandy this is a great idea!

Anonymous said...

There have been plenty of comments posted about this issue, so I just wanted to comment on your posting on a Fri. night. Nathan, you work hard enough as it is...enjoy your weekends. We'll live 'til Monday, I promise!

Anonymous said...

When my husband and I were driving in Mississippi, we listened to a wonderful radio program where "regular people" read sections of the newspaper out loud.

Unlike the harried news reports out there, this was calm and relaxing to listen to as well as an interesting way to hear the news.
At the end of the program, we learned it was done for blind or the elderly, but we very much enjoyed it too.

I think hearing "regular people" read novels or news is soothing.

If it is done on tape, though, specifically for sale and profit, then I would agree that authors should get a cut.

But as far as computerized voices,
gack me with a spoon.

My 2 cents.

Anonymous said...

Also, on that trip through Mississippi, books were read from (chapters) each day until a novel was complete and then another one was.
It was wonderful.

I personally think it would be a great service and compliment to an author to have their book read out loud on such programs or by teachers, parents, librarians, volunteers, or even by professional readers over the radio or tv, etc.In MHP, it also contributes to literacy and culture.

Again, it would just be the *for sale* version that would bother me.

Anonymous said...

Kind of like DVDs.
You can see it for free on tv or the internet
OR
purchase your own copy.

But before you can sell tickets (make a profit), you have to pay royalties and get persmission.

adrcremer said...

Nathan -

Have you seen the Onion's (p. 4) piece on the Kindle 2 this week? My favorites on their list of features and improvements from the original Kindle are:

"Streaming functionality allows user to read latest Nora Roberts novel in real-time as the author writes it"

and

"Unlike the first version, is not just a hollow box with a clear plastic window that you insert books into."

Yikes this makes two comments from me this week. Toto, I don't think we're in Lurkland anymore.

Sandra G. said...

I can't think of anything I'd rather listen to less than a computerized voice reading a book.

Audio books are great, and I usually have one plugged into my car for long trips, but my enjoyment of the book completely depends on the voice of the reader.

If the reader has an annoying voice then the audiobook is lost on me, even if it's by a favorite author.

A computerized voice would be torture.

nancorbett said...

Hmmm...what is that like? Computerized audio? I imagine something metallic-sounding or, worse, the voice of HAL. I wouldn't want to finally buy a kindle only to have it annoy me to the point where I smash it against the wall.

And didn't Amazon buy Audible.com about a year or two ago? That would be interesting, if I could buy a book and get both the print and a quality audio version in one purchase. I have had instances where I've both read and listened to a book. The Thirteenth Tale is an example. I first listened to it and was so enamored by the beautiful prose that I had to read it. It was a huge mistake, though, to listen to The Wind Up Bird Chronicle after reading it. I'm a commuter and have subscribed to Audible for over 5 years. But what Amazon is proposing here appears to be something quite different.

The ramifications are tricky. Amazon has put its finger in a lot of pies, and so far it's pulled it off. I suspect that Amazon will continue to do whatever it pleases, regardless of what the publishing

Anonymous said...

Seems like it's not the author's decision, but the publisher's decision, right? Unless, of course, the author is self-published. Am I missing someting here or did they screw up the article?

Nathan Bransford said...

anon-

Yes, it depends on who controls the rights. My guess is that publishers will probably defer to most authors, but of course that remains to be seen.

Anonymous said...

Here's the thing:

As a new author, I want my book made more accessible, so Iwoldn't object to it, especially with regard to vision impaired people who want to experience the story. Also, from what I hear, the current text-to-speech on the K2 is akin to having Stepehn Hawking read to you--a far cry from a stuido produced audio book with professional voice actors and background music.

Still, I'd bet that at some point in the future, say the K3 or maybe K4, you're goiong to see better voices--with a choice of accents, male or female...and choose your background music (classicla, jazz, techno, ambient, nature sounds, rock, etc...)...at which point the lines will begin to blur to the point of....lawyers!

Jodith said...

I think this is entirely an issue about accessibility. If you can't read for whatever reason (sight-impairment, dyslexia, whatever), this is a huge boost in being able to "read" like everyone else. I'd have to take a very negative view of any author who refused this access to their disabled readers, and I'm rather disappointed in Amazon for caving on the issue.

Glen Akin said...

I wouldn't even want my book on a Kindle to begin with, so this debate is not really important to me. However, it's interesting to read the views of others.

Fact: the Kindle is not a perfect system. If and when it gains popularity, it will be cracked and YOUR books will be all over the internet for free.

Mandajuice said...

I know this is an old post, but I'm trying to figure out who ACTUALLY controls the TTS decision. Is it the author or the publisher? It still seems unclear to me.

For the record, I'm a Kindle addict (from my cold. dead. hand.) and I long-ago stopped purchasing paper books, but I've recently stopped purchasing titles from authors (publishers?) who disable the text-to-speech feature. I prefer to READ, always will, but sometimes a book is too good to put down and the TTS feature lets me listen while I do the dishes, or commute, or pull weeds in the backyard, all without ever losing my place in whatever I'm reading.

I'm also an aspiring novelist and I LOVE the TTS feature for listening to my own manuscript. I catch my errors about a million times faster because my eyes can't speed over them and I have to hear them in all their horrific glory, with perfect diction to boot.

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