The Kindle 2 started shipping last week despite a possible problem with the Author’s Guild. The guild wasn’t very happy when the Kindle 2 was announced with a text-to-speech feature, and wanted it removed. To some, if not most, of us, the idea that text-to-speech could replace the experience of an audiobook is ridiculous, but not to the Author’s Guild. Now they won’t have to worry as Amazon has listened.
For those of you who like the generated voice in the Kindle 2, the feature isn’t being entirely removed. Actually, Amazon is just giving the option to allow text-to-speech to the publishers and authors. That way, those who want Kindle 2 users to have the feature will be able to activate it, and those who think it’s a copyright issue can choose to block it.
It’s a bit unfortunate for anybody who was thinking they’d use the text-to-speech feature a lot. I’m not sure if there are all that many who were, though. The voice just isn’t all that great. There’s no inflection, and its possible it would have an issue pronouncing words made up to fit in the world of the book. It just really can’t compare to audiobooks with its monotone, somewhat grating voice. Just imagine trying to listen to any significant portion of Neal Stephenson’s newest, “Anathem” with the Kindle 2 as opposed to the Audible four-person dramatic reading.