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Friday February 27, 2009 10:57 pm

Amazon gives in: Text-to-Speech now decided by book publisher


The text-to-speech feature of the in one of the main features that Amazon was touting when they debuted their latest e-book reader. However, Roy Blount, Jr., president of the Author’s Guild, made it immediately known that the Guild objects to the feature that he believes undermines the market for professional e-book. While this is overly cautious, since the Kindle sounds nothing like a real human being, Amazon has decided to step up (or back down?) and allow book publishers and authors the right to allow their works to be compatible with the text-to-speech feature or not. We are hoping that most will see that it’s harmless, and just allows folks to enjoy their work in a different way, albeit on the same device. You can read Amazon’s full statement after the jump.

You can pick up the Kindle 2 at Amazon, be sure to check out our Kindle 2 review.


Kindle 2’s experimental text-to-speech feature is legal: no copy is made, no derivative work is created, and no performance is being given. Furthermore, we ourselves are a major participant in the professionally narrated audiobooks business through our subsidiaries Audible and Brilliance. We believe text-to-speech will introduce new customers to the convenience of listening to books and thereby grow the professionally narrated audiobooks business.

Nevertheless, we strongly believe many rights-holders will be more comfortable with the text-to-speech feature if they are in the driver’s seat.

Therefore, we are modifying our systems so that rightsholders can decide on a title by title basis whether they want text-to-speech enabled or disabled for any particular title. We have already begun to work on the technical changes required to give authors and publishers that choice. With this new level of control, publishers and authors will be able to decide for themselves whether it is in their commercial interests to leave text-to-speech enabled. We believe many will decide that it is.

Customers tell us that with Kindle, they read more, and buy more books. We are passionate about bringing the benefits of modern technology to long-form reading.

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