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Bye-Bye Text to Speech Amazon Announces Restrictions


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Showing 51-62 of 62 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 28, 2009 10:51:31 AM PST
R. Anderson says:
I use text-to-speech to see how words are pronounced the same way I use the dictionary. I do not use it to replace audio books, the quality doesn't compare. I think this is a cop-out on Amazon's part, they've let us down.

Posted on Feb 28, 2009 10:47:55 AM PST
W. Hathaway says:
Wow I am shocked and amazed at how many people bought the K2 ONLY because it came with an "experimental" text to speech feature. If that's your only reason for getting one then you should just be buying regular audiobooks instead of the K2 in the first place. Spending $360 on one electronic device that doesn't even do THAT great of a job reading to you and then insisting on a refund when a feature that was listed as being experimental seems a bit childish. The word "experimental" should have been your heads up that it would most likely change in some ways as time went on, so you can't be all that shocked that it has been modified to give authors and publishers more power over how their books are accessed. Maybe instead of complaining to Amazon (who is not taking one single feature away from you) you should complain to any publishers that turn off the TTS feature?

Posted on Feb 28, 2009 9:14:08 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 28, 2009 9:14:38 AM PST
Janet Heath says:
I purchased the Kindle2 for my husband who is legally blind. The only reason I elected the Kindle2 was for the text-to-speech ability. He is already an audible book reader, but I wanted the ability for him to have a daily newspaper without me having to download it from the computer.

I should have known something was a muck when the TTS function was listed as experimental. I will wait a little longer to see if this issue has any forthcoming resolution, but may end up returning the Kindle2 as well.

Posted on Feb 28, 2009 8:29:22 AM PST
Well, I guess, for me, the safest thing would be to return my Kindle 2 for a full refund, until all this legal BS blows over. If TTS stays, then I can repurchase the K2. I hope I can get a refund for my warranty extension I just purchased??? I am very sad about all of this. Even with its flaws, I really like the TTS K2 feature.

Posted on Feb 28, 2009 8:25:03 AM PST
Purchasers of books, and the K2, should start a petition. If the authors care about selling their books, then maybe they will listen to US, the customers! Problem is, I'm distressed over this now. I have only three weeks to decide to return my K2. Like I said, I already have the K1, and don't need to of the essentially same reading devices. I am not rich, and it was a real splurge for me to purchase another Kindle, in the current economic climate. Dammit! Now I have to decide what to do. :-(

Posted on Feb 28, 2009 8:15:59 AM PST
If they do away with this feature, I will have to return my Kindle 2. I already own a Kindle I, and love it. I specifically went in debt in our failing economy to purchase the K2, for its text to speech feature. I respect the rights of authors, and I understand...to a point. I have never been one to download freely or pirate ANYTHING! I don't clearly see how this K2 text to speech feature steps on authors toes, when MANY people will still pay to hear the author read thier books if they want to. Some books, such as the audio Bible I have, only sound good with a real human voice, but come on authors, let the rest of us (whom you make millions off of) have some rights too!!!!

Posted on Feb 28, 2009 7:31:40 AM PST
Bob says:
I am disappointed that Amazon caved to this absurd challange. This is close to bait and switch, since Amazon touted the TTS capability as a major upgrade from the Kindle 1 in their marketing material. I'm not surprised, however, since they rcently began characterizing this feature as "experimental" - a strange label for something previously promoted as a major feature in their marketing and promotion. I agree that Amazon must now clearly disclose when TTS is disabled on any any book they offer. Otherwise, the only way I will be able to boycott such offerings will be to return them as defective.

Posted on Feb 28, 2009 7:11:26 AM PST
I just purchased the Kindle 2 and there is a major major major flaw in the text to speech. Whenever it is reading to you, everything that should have an apostrophe has a back quote in its place and the voice says, "back quote" whenever it encounters this. I purchased this device solely because it has a text to speech. I also purchased numerous books. When I listened to the Kindle last night, I was so stressed out by always hearing it read "back quote" whenever it encountered this punctuation. I am returning the Kindle and am getting a credit for all the books I have purchased. Your company should wake up immediately and be ready for an onslaught of returns and very very very unhappy people. They will then flock to Sony because they will be the only alternative. I would have kept my unit if I were told, and I asked, if it could be corrected by wireless means for the software. They could not answer this question. No one got back to me, so they lost a customer and all those who I will tell about this serious flaw. Text to speech is not new. I have used it in my business for over a decade now with Dragon Speech. The person who wrote your program should have distinguished between an apostrophe and a back quote and they should have tested it by listening to the text to speech before you released this product. Someone was not doing their job at many many many different levels. Your lost. You lost me and I thought you had something fantastic available. Pershaps in time you will get this right, but I have lost a lot of valuable time with this product. The only way you will ever ever ever get me back is if you get this flaw corrected and reward me and others with color and back lighting so you can read it in bed at night without having all the lights on which interfers with your partner's sleep. Please get it right with your Kindle 3. However, a word of warning. If Sony gets these features on their device befor your company does, you may lose me and thousands of other potential customers. Thank you.

Posted on Feb 28, 2009 5:39:19 AM PST
Legalsea says:
I would not get too worried about the fate of text-to-speech (TTS) and here is why.

For one, this announcement smells of `face saving compromise'; face saving to the Author's Guild, that is. I believe the Guild had to make the argument against TTS simply to show its members that it is doing something. I believe the Guild knew that it would not prevail in Court should it come to that.

Amazon also did not wish to go to Court since, well, anything can happen, no matter how solid your position is. Anyway, the announcement that individual authors will decide whether they want TTS to be available for their product smacks of compromise. Like others, I seriously doubt any reputable author will want to appear to be `against' the visually-challenged by saying he or she will not allow TTS.

Secondly, once a `technological genie' is out of the bottle it is very hard to shut it back up. This innovated TTS feature allows the visually impaired access to material that they were previously prevented from accessing. Newspapers, for instance, are not available in Braille or provided in an audio form on a daily basis. Now, a visually challenged person can, through Kindle, subscribe to the Wall Street Journal or some other daily newspaper and literally have the daily paper read to him or her.

I reason I bring up this second point is this: the American with Disabilities Act was written, and is interpreted by the courts, broadly. A specific part of the general purpose of the Act is to provide a means by which those covered by the Act (such as the visually impaired) may compel businesses to make reasonable modifications to existing facilities and practices. Businesses cannot be compelled to develop new technology.

However, now that TTS is available, it could well be argued that a deliberate policy by the Author's Guild (to prevent TTS for its authors' products) violates the purpose of the ADA. It is a form of discrimination, and I can easily see a Court ruling in such a way. Indeed, even given the compromise, I would not be too surprised to see some type of class action lawsuit filed against the Guild in the near future.

Posted on Feb 28, 2009 5:06:37 AM PST
Keith Sloan says:
As Amazon are going to take this step of giving the supplier the option of disabling the Text to Speech facility. They SHOULD at least make it VERY obvious and CLEAR as whether a book is disabled or not, BEFORE one buys and downloads the book.

Posted on Feb 27, 2009 6:19:05 PM PST
Woody says:
FWIW, even though I doubt I will ever use the feature, I agree that the Author's Guild is being silly in punishing the very people they should be encouraging, namely those of us who still read and who buy books instead of getting them from the library.

I posted my letter in the Author's Guild information topic. Feel free to "steal" from it at will, but please DO take the time to write them and let them know how you feel.

Initial post: Feb 27, 2009 4:10:13 PM PST
This was just released...as a person who purchased the new Kindle 2 specifically for this feature I am disgusted at this change especially since Amazon is in the right.

Statement from Amazon.com Regarding Kindle 2's Experimental Text-to-Speech Feature
SEATTLE, Feb 27, 2009 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- 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 rightsholders 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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Discussion in:  eBook forum
Participants:  45
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Initial post:  Feb 27, 2009
Latest post:  Sep 16, 2011

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