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Old 03-02-2009, 11:00 AM   #1
Rob Williams
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Default Kindle 2 Text-to-Speech Feature Now Optional (to Publishers)

From our front-page news:
We haven't reported on Amazon's new Kindle 2 yet, but a new story has given me the push needed to talk about it a bit. First and foremost, the Kindle is a great e-Book reader, no question. One cool feature on the "2" though, was "text-to-speech", which does exactly as you'd expect. Rather than have to go purchase an audio book, you could simply load up your e-book, and let the Kindle 2 read it to you.

Now, given what I've heard from text-to-speech software in the past, I'm assuming that the voice quality is nowhere as good as a real audio book, but that doesn't much matter, because the Authors Guild (there's another guild??) had something to say about it, and Amazon had very little delay before caving in. Now, the text-to-speech feature is optional to book publishers, so while some books may use the feature without issue, others will ignore it.

This move, of course, is one of the dumbest that the Authors Guild could have pulled off. As I mentioned, there is no way the quality of the voice is so good that it could actually replace a real audio book, and aside from that, if someone is actually keen on having this feature (someone who is blind, or hard-of-seeing, or someone who just wants to sit back and listen), the best option once again becomes piracy. So, not only would they lose an audio book sale, but they'd lose a book sale in general. I can't wrap my head around organizations like this...


Well done to the Authors Guild! Amazon revealed last night that the text-to-speech feature in the Kindle 2 will now be optional for publishers. The guild had been tenaciously fighting this feature, arguing that it had the potential to turn the Kindle 2 into a de-facto audiobook player. Right or wrong, Amazon has caved, and now publishers will be able to dictate whether or not the Kindle 2 is able to read aloud their books.


Source: CrunchGear
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Old 03-02-2009, 11:19 AM   #2
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I heard they were upset over this, but not that they were actively pushing Amazon over it. That's just the most stupid thing they could have done, and I don't see any reason for having done so. What do they gain from it? Are they seeking to sell an audiobook + ebook to the same customer?

The Kindle 2's text-to-speech ability should be lauded for many reasons. For those that have problems seeing or are legally blind the potential is limitless. Then there are those that might want to put down their book because they are driving but still want to continue "reading" it, or those that just need to rest their eyes, or those somewhere without sufficient light to read by... How does putting a strong dampner on one of the top selling points of this device benefit the authors it supposedly protects?
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Old 03-04-2009, 12:48 PM   #3
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I couldn't agree more with your thoughts. From what I can tell, they simply want people to purchase the audio book version rather than print version, as I assume it costs more. The fact is though, audio books are just not convenient. They assume you ALWAYS want to listen to the book, rather than read it. What if you wanted to go back to a certain part to recall what was mentioned? Hard to do on an audio book.

Either way, I thought that people were in business to make money, but I'm starting to doubt that if the Author's Guild is anything to go by.
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Old 03-05-2009, 08:05 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Williams View Post
Either way, I thought that people were in business to make money, but I'm starting to doubt that if the Author's Guild is anything to go by.
Yeah, that's what they are thinking I'm sure. But it's like the RIAA, they themselves admitted all those lawsuits in the end cost them more money than they gained from doing so. And that the primary purposes wasn't to regain lost revenue but simply to scare a portion of the downloaders into buying instead of pirating. They made that decision knowing they would be losing money, yet did it anyway for the supposed benefits.
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Old 03-08-2009, 06:41 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Kougar View Post
They made that decision knowing they would be losing money, yet did it anyway for the supposed benefits.
Good point, never thought about it like that before. I guess in the end, it doesn't matter what we think, because there are few business practices that continue to make sense to me. Once these people realize it's not smart to screw with their customers, things will begin to make sense again.
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Old 05-04-2009, 05:31 PM   #6
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Default New kindle coming?

ok - damn all the law suits. I get a headache by just reading that stuff..!

Anyway is it true that amazon is launching a new kindle version this week?

what happens to our old ones?
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Old 05-05-2009, 01:42 AM   #7
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Yeah, its not if but when. Here's the info: http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=15032
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Old 05-05-2009, 08:21 PM   #8
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Nothing happens to the old Kindles... it seems like the new ones are just upgraded, so they'll cost more. It would have been nice to see them both launched at the same time though. Talk about a piss-off for those early-adopters of the second generation.
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Old 05-06-2009, 12:52 AM   #9
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That's unfortunately nothing new for early adopters... its a tradeoff an early adopter has to be willing to make in order to have it first to use the new tech.

More info: http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=15044
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Old 05-06-2009, 01:20 PM   #10
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It's been announced: URL

It costs $489, while the original costs $359, but to be honest, the hike in the price almost seems worth it if you want more real-estate. The difference in screen size is HUGE.
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Old 05-06-2009, 04:29 PM   #11
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The cost is ridiculous. I haven't spent that much money on books in 5 years total. If they really want to get people reading they need to bring the cost WAY down. I'd argue that it would make more sense to sell this for cheap and then sell the books for a higher cost than selling this for as expensive as it is now. Consumers shop on price alone and this price is out of the league of just about everyone.
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Old 05-06-2009, 05:18 PM   #12
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Quote:
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The cost is ridiculous. I haven't spent that much money on books in 5 years total. If they really want to get people reading they need to bring the cost WAY down. I'd argue that it would make more sense to sell this for cheap and then sell the books for a higher cost than selling this for as expensive as it is now. Consumers shop on price alone and this price is out of the league of just about everyone.
I could not agree with you more. I would like to see a company (why not Amazon?!?) offer the Kindle for $199, subsidizing the cost to the consumer and then have a contract like system where you pay XXX a month and get access to their data store of books. This is what the cell phone companies have been doing for years at an absurdly high success rate. I would pay a monthly fee, upwards or around $30 or so for this type of business model.

They could allow 2-3 books at one time. You get them, read them and download more when your ready. The older books you have read would go away and your new ones would be entered into the Kindle's memory. I would suggest similar approaches to newspapers. I love the New York Times and would gladly subscribe to it on the Kindle.
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Old 05-07-2009, 07:33 AM   #13
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If anything, it's the print meda and newpapers that are quickly flocking to this new Kindle that should partially subsidize it. Newspapers and some magazines need to hurry up and switch to a system like this or risk going internet-only in a few years... I imagine it would be cheaper for them to arrange subscription deals where they can sell a one or two year subscription of their newspaper and include a subsidized Kindle DX in the final price... in the end it would be cheaper for them to pay a little out of pocket for a Kindle than to keep eating paper/printing/delivery costs as they currently are doing.
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Old 05-07-2009, 03:57 PM   #14
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Good ideas guys... I like the subscription model. As much as I hate to see the demise of newspapers, it seems rather inevitable, so really, these guys have no choice but to expand their horizons and look for ways to deliver their words to their customers. The Kindle and other e-Book readers have been really successful (especially for over 50-year-olds apparently), so I can't see that tech dying out anytime soon.
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