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 |

Published by Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

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  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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