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Author's Guild receives protests over Kindle 'text-to-speech' stance

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 09 Apr 2009 17:58 User comments (7)

Author's Guild receives protests over Kindle 'text-to-speech' stance Amazon's Kindle 2 made headlines throughout the world when it was introduced. Of particular attention was the device's decent text-to-speech feature. At first, the plan was for the feature to work with any text displayed on the Kindle 2. However, the Author's Guild saw this feature as a "performance" when used and pressured Amazon to allow publishers to decide on an eBook-by-eBook basis whether to enable the feature or not.
Whether this feature really threatens audio books and other sources of revenue is unknown, but for certain groups of people, this stance is simply not acceptable. At the end of last month, twenty groups representing visually and cognitively impaired individuals formed the Reading Rights Coalition. The group exists solely to oppose the action of the Author's Guild.

Among the members of the Reading Right Coalition are the American Council of the Blind, the International Dyslexia Association, and the National Center for Learning Disabilities. "Sadly, the Authors Guild does not support equal access for us. The Guild has told us that to read their books with text-to-speech we must either submit to a special registration system (that not all may qualify for and that would expose disability information to all future eBook reader manufacturers) and prove our disabilities -- or pay extra," says the coalition's mission statement.

The coalition held its first protest outside the New York offices of the Author's Guild this week. The Author's Guild issued a statement in response. It reads, "The Authors Guild will gladly be a forceful advocate for amending contracts to provide access to voice-output technology to everyone. We will not, however, surrender our members' economic rights to Amazon or anyone else. The leap to digital has been brutal for print media generally, and the economics of the transition from print to e-books do not look as promising as many assume. Authors can't afford to start this transition to digital by abandoning rights."

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7 user comments

19.4.2009 21:34

Text to speech could hardly replace an audiobook performance by any stretch of the imagination. Sorry to hear about the effects of the digital transition. Maybe you should hire some creative minds to figure out how to shift the business model? Maybe link the audiobook inside the front cover of the book at a moderate discount? You know, advertise that it exists, and offer access to it. Any kind of online access has to be better than shipping two cassette versions to the back corner of borders, locked in a glass case. Maybe you'd actually sell a few more copies of your precious, 'newly endangered' format.

29.4.2009 22:24

spam edited by ddp

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 09 Apr 2009 @ 23:00

310.4.2009 0:15

That's hilarious! I hope they don't find out that people read to their kids, or worst yet...the elderly. Hearing a book being "read" from a machine can't compete with dramatization that you get with an audio book. Come on, greed is an ugly thing.

410.4.2009 2:39

And greed destroy yet a new cool feature... and I totally agree on one thing, I rarely listen to audiobooks and lucky me all of them had GREAT readers (I would say actors, but IDK if that´s the right term)somehow I doubt you would get the same effect from a synth voice, I think you should have a choice without having to declare whatever illness you have...

510.4.2009 13:02

The only fear here is that the authors will lose income from those forced to buy audiobooks - the vision impaired.

611.4.2009 14:36

LOL this is hilarious... i wonder if i can get sued if i buy one of their books and decide to read it out loud in a public area since there is absolutely no difference...

since they are going to label this as "performance" does the kindle 2 dance and sing for us too? I hardly call a monotonous voice which sounds like some drone reading a "performance".

717.4.2009 15:29

Audiobooks are audiobooks. This is clearly not an audiobook. Besides, it's in Amazon's own interest to keep it from cannibalizing itself since they own

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