Authors Guild, and thereby the authors represented, has successfully pressured Amazon to silence the text-to-speech (TTS) function on the Kindle 2 (K2).
Amazon announced in a press release that it will make the TTS function optional at the publisher's discretion.
If you can't tell this has made me extremely angry. I was angry enough that I wrote an email to Author's Guild complaining.
Now I hate audio books for myself. I understand there's a place for them but it isn't with me.
But I have found the TTS that the K2 provides to be very useful. I let it read to me as I drive home and to work and so on. Another surprising use I found was to let it read to me while I am exercising.
The picture is my K2 on my elliptical machine. This use had not even occurred to me before I bought the thing. It works great.
Now the TTS is not audio-book quality. I can't imagine people who like audio-books actually using the TTS on the K2 as a substitute. More likely it would be people like me who allow it to read to them when they can't read by sight.
A friend whose father has macular degeneration thought he might get his dad a K2 just for the TTS.
I can understand book publishers being upset about the Kindle. I guess I can understand a little bit how publishers might be upset about TTS. But honestly I do not understand why authors would be upset about it. Well, maybe the big authors that make mega-bucks selling books through the big publsihers. In those cases there is not a huge difference between the publisher and the author.
But nearly all authors should benefit from both the Kindle 2 and the TTS.
This is so much like the music industry. When artists start having battles to the death with the very people that make it possible for the artist to perform then it is obvious that there is a revolution going on.