Cory Doctorow on the Amazon Kindle’s Text-to-Speech Feature

First off, this art­icle by sci­ence fic­tion author Cory DoctorowWho will be in con­ver­sa­tion with Gareth L Powell at this year’s Eastercon. in the Guardian shouldn’t be called ‘Authors have lost the plot in Amazon Kindle battle’. Pressure is com­ing from the Authors’ Guild and from pub­lish­ers. Both might claim to rep­res­ent authors, but wheth­er they do or not is debat­able.

Now, I hap­pen to dis­agree with that pos­i­tion because I don’t think that text-to-speech is a sub­sti­tute for audiobooks for the major­ity of listen­ers, and because the value of text-to-speech is such that people will buy enough ebooks to off­set any losses from sub­sti­tu­tion, and, most import­antly, authors who oppose this fea­ture look like grasp­ing, greedy jerks and will ali­en­ate their read­ers.

Quite apart from the infringe­ment of audiobook rights, there an access­ib­il­ity issue. Plenty of read­ers who are par­tially sighted or have dif­fi­culty read­ing will bene­fit hugely from hav­ing the text spoken aloud. This tech­no­logy has the poten­tial to bring books to a wider mar­ket. Meanwhile, those with a ves­ted interest are con­tent to arse around like mid-1990s record com­pany exec­ut­ives and the RIAA.

Cory Doctorow: Authors have lost the plot in Amazon Kindle battle | Technology |

Author: Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

2 thoughts on “Cory Doctorow on the Amazon Kindle’s Text-to-Speech Feature”

  1. I listened to samples of Kindle’s text to speech func­tion on Youtube. It was bet­ter than the Stephen Hawking I was expect­ing, but still not exactly a real threat to audiobooks. Is there a UK equi­val­ent to the Author’s Guild and are they as short sighted? When the Kindle comes to UK we will pre­sum­ably get the same crippled ver­sion. Or maybe author’s “waivers” will be inter­na­tion­al.

  2. Thanks for your com­ment, Bytor. I hon­estly don’t know what the situ­ation is about this in the UK, but I think we’d prob­ably fol­low the US lead on this one.

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