Does your Kindle tell you a bedtime story?

Here is a blog topic for yah Julia, uh wifey.  (From my husband.)

I now spend at least 50% of my book and periodical time being read to by my Kindle. I imagine the same is possible on an iPad.

In the morning I work out for 40 minutes while my Kindle reads the Sports Page to me. Then,  while I prepare breakfast it reads me the
front page. Later while I drive to work I read whatever book I am currently working on via a jack through my car’s sound system.

I read a variety of books this way but romances and Lawrence Block mysteries work particularly well.  Some non-fiction read this way is too dry to hold my interest but others are very well suited.

One interesting trend that I have noticed is that more best sellers are choosing NOT to disable text to speech when publishing. In the past authors and/or publishers probably would do this to protect their audio book selling rights but I think (or hope) they are realizing that the buyers who are interested in using text to speech (T2S) to read their book are distinct from the audiobook market.

Yes listening to audiobooks is great but beyond offering the opportunity to expand my reading time, T2S allows me to pick up and actually read (the old fashioned way) the book when I have the chance. This flexibility is wonderful and not possible with an audiobook.

In most cases I won’t consider buying a book that has disabled text to speech (Issaccson’s biography of Steve Jobs is a recent exception).

So should authors write with the T2S market in mind? Not now but perhaps in the near future and especially if the T2S programs improve and gain more popularity. Does that require any changes in writing style?Heck if I know but maybe. Frankly I find that really good sparely written
prose translates beautifully to T2S while overwritten, adjective heavy prose does not.

Well, there you have it.


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26 Responses to Does your Kindle tell you a bedtime story?

  1. anny cook says:

    I never looked at that market as I really don’t like listening to someone else read to me… interesting.

  2. Amber Skyze says:

    Hmmm, I’ll have to check this feature out on my Kindle. You can see how much I “explore” the device. I just open and read. I’d like to listen sometimes. Thanks. :)

  3. Casey Wyatt says:

    I’ve never used my kindle like that. I’ll have to give it a try. Maybe I can use it to read my own drafts to weed out overwritten prose.

  4. Tom Stronach says:

    Can’t do it, tried, sends me to sleep, always.

    Don’t know why it has such a soporific effect on me, but if you want me to stop annoying you and go to sleep, put an audio book on, guaranteed to be asleep after a couple of paragraphs


  5. Julianne says:

    I’ve always thought text to speech might be a good idea, if nothing else for the vision impaired who might want to read/hear/experience our stories. Sometimes, I just would rather listen to a book than read it (say, when driving or some such). For some reason, it actually seems to make the “reading” of a book go faster–at least in my head. It always made me wonder why so few books were translated into audiobooks. After all, way back when, storytellers actual stood before crowds to speak their stories. It’s a shame that the advent of printing made the spoken storytelling medium an afterthought.

  6. Jaye says:

    I’ve never particularly cared for fiction audio-books. I do have many audio non-fiction books and I listen to them mostly while driving.

    Sometimes I will find myself reading a story aloud. The dialogue or the lyricism of the writing demand to be heard. I read aloud to see if I can match the inflection of a character’s speech or find the rhythm in the prose. So, yeah, I hadn’t really thought about the text-to-speech feature in my Kindle. I’ve never used it. There are definitely some stories that would translate very well and is something for writers to consider.

    Thanks, Julia, good post.

  7. I listen to audio books constantly, working out, doing housework, driving, etc. I’d forgotten that I could have my kindle read my WIP to me as well. Thanks for the reminder. ;)

  8. Diana Stevan says:

    Julia, interesting post. I just got a Kindle Touch but haven’t read anything on it yet. However, my husband uses his exclusively. Formerly, an avid book reader, he’s switched completely to the Kindle. He has also used the T2S function. He finds the male reader preferable to the female on the Kindle. Although it’s robotic, it helps when he’s driving to have this feature. He said, that he put the function in slow mode, when he heard Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky. Because of the author’s style, he needed time to process what the writer had written.

  9. Huh. I never thought of trying that, but maybe I will now. Thanks, Julia.

  10. Penelope says:

    I have never tried this, but you have me intrigued. Great idea for listening to morning paper, mags….etc.

    Cool idea!

  11. Hi Penny – I’ve listened to my own books. It’s kinda cool!

  12. Marie – the voice is metallic but you do get used to it.

  13. I get that, Diana. My husband says the male voice works well for nonfiction and mysteries, and something like Crime and Punishment, while the female voice is excellent for romances!

  14. Oh, go for it, Stephanie! It’s kinda fun.

  15. Thanks, Jaye. My husband’s favorite Kindle reads (via the voice) are LB’s books.

  16. Julianne, I never thought about that. Yes, great for the visually impaired and we do love to hear a good story… don’t we… maybe it’s in the genes!

  17. Tom you are so funny. Whenever my husband can’t sleep, he sticks his ear buds in and listens to some dry textbook. He’s out in three minutes or less!

  18. Great idea, Casey. I might do the same thing.

  19. Go for it, Amber. Until my husband told me I had no idea Kindle offered text to speech.

  20. Ah, but Anny some readers might like to have your book read to them!

  21. Stephanie says:

    I am interested: did your lovely hubster actually write this?
    I’ve never tried text to speech. I think about it though. S

  22. Yes, he wrote it Steph! :)

  23. anny cook says:

    Well, I suppose if your hands were “busy” my books might provide a little extra incentive…

  24. There you go, Anny! Right idea!

  25. I’ve listened to a few audio books but don’t buy a lot. I love to read and exercise the brain. I do take the time to read my books out loud to see how they flow just in case I would decide to jump into audio. I think it is great to have audio books because people still get to indulge in fiction no matter what.

  26. Hi Savannah. My husband has a long commute to an audio book is great for him. He likes the Kindle text to speech because he doesn’t have to change CDs.