Amazon Restricts Kindle 2 Text-To-Speech Feature

by Greg on March 2, 2009

Amazon has announced that although their text-to-speech feature is legal they are restricting access for this experimental feature. They believe that “many rightsholders will be more comfortable with the text-to-speech feature if they are in the driver’s seat.”

Right now, Amazon is modifying their systems so that rights holders can decide on a book by book basis if they want the text-to-speech enabled or not. It’s hard to say right now how many authors and publishers will choose to leave this feature enabled but we should have a good idea shortly. Hopefully most of them will not disable the text-to-speech as this is a great feature that many of us have already enjoyed using.

The reason that Amazon is even doing this in the first place is that the Author’s Guild protested the text-to-speech feature when the Kindle 2 was released. I think the only reason Amazon is giving in to them so easily is that they are trying to avoid controversy. I’m just hoping that Amazon will at least let us know before we buy a book if we will have the text-to-speech feature available or not.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Veronica March 3, 2009 at 4:40 pm

Utter nonsense. Anyone who regularly enjoys the excellent audio books that are available at the public library will not mistake the text-to speech version in a side-by-side comparison. I appreciate being able to switch to the text-to-speech of my material on the Kindle2, if something needs my attention, grandkids on the playground, folding laundry as two examples. When I really like to engage in an audio book read by one of my favorite readers, I switch to my MP3 player (Zen).

2 Joshua March 2, 2009 at 10:21 pm

What disgusts me so much about the manufactured “controversy” over the Text-to-Speech functionality is that the information about it has been available for months, but the Author’s Guild decided to completely ignore the issue until the day the Kindle 2 started shipping. THEN they started making a bit stink about it. If they’d expressed concerns when the announcements about Kindle 2 features were first made, they could have come to an agreement with Amazon before the official release without the whole uproar. After all, they had a good 2 weeks between the time Bezos’ official announcement and they started going out.

I think the AG decided if they waited until release day to say anything, then took the extreme measures they did (including the NY Times editorial piece), they’d get the most publicity possible for the existence of professionally-recorded Audiobooks to a broader audience, and the effect on Amazon’s reputation and our satisfaction with them over this be damned.

Well played, Mr. Blount! Congratulations on the selfish, unprofessional handling of the situation, ensuring that much more bad blood against your organization from the general public. You’ve successfully made it that much harder for us to sympathize with your positions and advocacy, and given yourself that much more work to do in order to be take seriously with any future issues you raise!

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