Can You Hear Me Now? Cease and Desist!

Amazon has just announced the Kindle 2. If you’re not familiar with the Kindle here’s the summary – it’s an Ebook Reader that can carry over 1,500 titles, has wireless access, and has a store with over 230,000 titles. It’s latest incarnation has the ability to ‘read’ the book out loud.

Some folks have an issue with that. The Author’s Guild’s executive director, Paul Aiken says, “That’s an audio right, which is derivative under copyright law.” In layman’s terms, Amazon paid for the electronic distribution rights of the books, but not the audio rights. There are several stories about this –Bit-Tech.net, John Scalzi’s Whatever, and the Wall Street Journal, just to name a few. Do a search and you’ll find a lot more.

I may not yet be a published author, but I think the Author’s Guild is barking up the wrong tree here.

Text-to-speech features have been on computers for years. I remember using my first Sound Blaster Pro (8-bit) to greet me with ‘Hello Matt’ when I powered on my computer. Fun-times. The sound quality though left a lot to be desired. Would I want to listen to Harry Potter like that? Nope. I’ll buy the audiobook and load it onto my iPod. I hear the guy who does the reading is fantastic. The Kindle can’t be that much of an improvement

Is there any circumstance that I would agree with the Author’s Guild? Sure. If someone setup a Kindle and charged folks for a reading, yeah, that’s a no-no. I don’t think that is likely to happen though. Rent a movie and see how often you pause it to get a snack or visit the restroom. That’s 2 hours. Books will run 6 – 8 hours or more. Who is going to want to listen to a monotone voice that long?

Let Mom or Dad ‘read’ a chapter each night to their kid. Let them play it while driving their car. Not everyone has perfect vision and sometimes Braille versions of books don’t exist. The Kindle could really help with that and more importantly, spread the author’s audience.

Will I ever buy a Kindle? Not likely. Whoever heard of curling up next to the fire with a nice LCD monitor? Give me a book any day.

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