who backed down in the school yard?

March 4, 2009

late last week, there was some online discussion about Roy Blount Jr.’s op-ed in the New York Times, “The Kindle Swindle?”  Blount, president of the Authors Guild, penned the viewpoint that the text-to-speech function of the Kindle 2 robs authors of their rights (and royalties) to the audio versions of their books.

two days later, Amazon reversed its previous position, leaving it up to publishers and authors to decide if the audio function of the Kindle 2 will be activated on a title specific basis.  in a helpful side note, Amazon maintains that the text-to-speech function is legal.

Neil Gaiman jumped into the discussion, providing an outline of why the Kindle 2 audio is just not the same as narration by a professional.  be sure and click on the example Gaiman provides of Wil Wheaton reading his latest (Wheaton is an author, an actor, and professional narrator) versus “Alex,” an automated voice provided by a Mac.  i can’t help but agree that any money and/or energy spent on this would be better direct towards promoting and marketing audiobooks.

Dear Author offered a clear explanation of some of the legalese behind all of this, specifically what doesn’t hold up, and reasons why Amazon shouldn’t have backed down.

posting by marin

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One Response to “who backed down in the school yard?”


  1. [...] from an audio book read by a professional reader, but it was an option.   Not long after that the Author’s Guild objected claiming that Amazon was ripping off authors by creating an audio book without paying royalties for [...]


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