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.
Sandra G. says
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.
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
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 says
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.
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!
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 says
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.
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.