Friday, February 27, 2009

Kindle and Text-to-Speech

We recently purchased a Amazon Kindle 2. I must say I was interested when the first Kindle came out, but I like to read reviews and find out how people use things before I plunk down that kind of money. The reviews looked good, but the consensus seemed to be that version 2 would be better. So I waited and was rewarded for my patience. The Kindle is great. I love the screen, it is as easy to read as a book. Its not too heavy, and I love that now I can make any book a large font. For someone with bad eyes, this is great.
But one feature that really sold me on the Kindle 2 was the Text-to-Speech feature. I learn best if I read and hear. Since I learned this about myself, I used to read aloud to myself, until I could get audio books. Then later I would look for books on PDF and convert those to audio using free programs on my computer. I once converted a 600 page book to 12 CDs when studying for an exam. It was all worth it, not only did I pass the test, but I have retained more of the information than I ever would of had just reading.
But once again, greed stands in the way of usability. Like the movie, TV and music industries before it, the Writers Guild is more worried about getting royalties from audio books than people reading, learning and enjoying literature people have written. When will people understand that technology WILL change the way most people consume: whether it be video, music, or literature, people want it accessible and fairly priced. VHS, DVDs, the internet and now Netflix and iTunes show this. The movie industry first fought VHS because they saw it taking away from box office sales. They were afraid of DVDs because people would learn to copy them and make perfect copies. The music industry is still scared of digital music. They see CD prices falling steadily, because they can't come up with a way to sell to consumers and get the money they used to, so Apple stepped in with iTunes. Now the Writers Guild wants to fight people listening to a computer read a book.
Didn't anyone learn how to share when they were kids? I agree that everyone from writer, actor, to musician should be able to make a living off their work, but do we need to always fight change? This was discussed before briefly. I have to end this post now before I get too mad. Bah.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

About a year ago i purchased an ebookwise reader for about $125.
A year later i'm still in love. Every since the days of reading Encyclopedia Brown by flashlight underneath my covers way past Mother's "Lights Out!", i wanted something like this.
As posted before i'm tired of lawyers complaining that the non-artistic dont get paid.
Guitar Hero is HUGE. Aerosmith made more money on their supplement to Guitar Hero than they Ever made from a studio album.
Weezer and 30 Seconds to Mars had explosions in their album/single sales b/ of GU.
However, the music industry has raised concerns that the music labels are not receiving fair compensation considering the success of the games. Edgar Bronfman Jr., chairman and chief executive for Warner Music Group, stated that "The amount being paid to the industry, even though their games are entirely dependent on the content that we own and control, is far too small."
Oops, off topic.
I love science fiction. TOR books has been a major player in SF paperbacks since the 60's. They send me an email once a month with a free novel that i can easily download to my ebook. When i spend my monthly book allowance, who do you think i peruse first?
The genre that has exploded the most from ebook readers?
Romance. Maybe add a vampire, detective, or sexy male werewolf with a manual labor job and you can write what the librarians call "bodice-rippers"? Sold.
One last point and i'll stop. With the birth of podcasting, several authors have serialized their product first and then published. Scott Sigler with his novel Infected is a perfect example. He couldn't sell his novel to anyone so he read it chapter by chapter as a free podcast. The response was so good he got published and hit 11th on the NYTimes bestseller. Pissed off, he went back to the podcasting community and hit Top 10 for his sequel.
The Man knows nothing.