Who do you want reading to you?

Posted by Rob Lewis

Amazon's new Kindle 2 has a synthetic voice that can read e-books aloud.  While described as an "experimental" feature, it has surprisingly good command of nuance and inflection and some people are voicing concerns. The Author's Guild has had the most to say about Amazon's new text-to-speech technology. You see, writers and publishers sell audio rights (think audio books) and those rights are not included with e-book rights.

Amazon has maintained that Kindle 2's text-to-speech feature is legal: no copy is made, no derivative work is created, and no performance is being given. However they have responded to concerns and modified their 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.

Given that Amazon owns Audible, a web service dedicated to selling professionally narrated audiobooks, it would appear they are hedging their bets by promoting and selling the Kindle, playing it safe by having one foot in the attractive and proven audiobook market worth $2 Billion, and one foot in the synthetic voice market for text-to-speech.

It's just a matter of time until AFTRA labout union catch wind of the fact they may be cut out of some of the most desired work by professional narrators. While many believe that synthesized voice poses little threat to long form narration such as audiobooks, as text-to-speech technology improves that may change.

With the demand for audiobooks skyrocketing, going from about 4,000 produced per year over the past several years, to 24,000 by 2012, Amazon stands to cash in handsomely by covering both ends of the spectrum.

That being said, companies like Toronto's Voices.com may have an opportunity to partner-up with Amazon and book publishers. There is clear evidence of ripe market opportunity - just check out their very niche site called Audio Book Voice Talent.

Company:
Amazon
Website:
http://www.amazon.com
Location:
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), a Fortune 500 company based in Seattle, opened on the World Wide Web in July 1995 and today offers Earth's Biggest Selection. Amazon.com, Inc., seeks to be Earth's most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices. Amazon.com and other sellers offer millions of... more


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Rob Lewis

Rob Lewis

Rob is the President of Techvibes Media and Editor-in-Chief of Techvibes.com.  His diverse background includes stints in International Trade Finance, Web Development, and Enterprise Software and he is a graduate of the University of British Columbia, British Columbia Institute of Technology, and Simon Fraser University. When not running Canada's leading technology media property, Rob can be... more




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