Thursday, February 26, 2009

Page rage

Roy Blount, Jr. on the problem with the Kindle 2's text-to-speech function. After rebuffing the nonsense that the Authors Guild wants to stop parents from reading stories to their kids, he gets to the central problem: Amazon has come up with a device that trumps the contractually agreed upon intellectual property rights that put money in authors' pockets. Opposing viewpoint here. (NY Times/Boing Boing)

True, you can already get software that will read aloud whatever is on your computer. But Kindle 2 is being sold specifically as a new, improved, multimedia version of books — every title is an e-book and an audio book rolled into one. And whereas e-books have yet to win mainstream enthusiasm, audio books are a billion-dollar market, and growing. Audio rights are not generally packaged with e-book rights. They are more valuable than e-book rights. Income from audio books helps not inconsiderably to keep authors, and publishers, afloat.

You may be thinking that no automated read-aloud function can compete with the dulcet resonance of Jim Dale reading “Harry Potter” or of authors, ahem, reading themselves. But the voices of Kindle 2 are quite listenable. There’s even a male version and a female version. (A book by, say, Norman Mailer on Kindle 2 might do a brisk business among people wondering how his prose would sound in measured feminine tones.)

No comments: