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Old 08-27-2013, 05:41 PM   #1
Alexander Turcic
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How important is text-to-speech capability to you?

Something an e-book can do that a paper book cannot is turn the text into the spoken word. Of course I'm talking about the text-to-speech or read-out-loud feature. When Amazon introduced this kind of functionality with the Kindle 2 in 2009, much of the attention focused on a heated copyright controversy. As a consequence, Amazon modified their systems so that rightsholders could decide for themselves on a title by title basis whether they want text-to-speech enabled or not.

Publishers who elect to disable text-to-speech could prevent the visually impaired from reading the books, in particular if the title is not available in the alternative audiobook form. Bufo Calvin of the I Love My Kindle blog penned an impassioned open letter in this regard:

Quote:
Text-to-speech is software which can read your books out loud.

It’s not a performance: it’s another way to access the material, like making the text size bigger.

That is a huge convenience for those who have print disabilities or challenges.

Certainly, there may be specialized versions of your books available for those who can certify a print disability. Those books may even be free to them.

It’s not the same, though, as buying them in the Kindle store, the same way most people do.

Buying them in the Kindle store means that those who need that functionality can get it the same day everyone else. They can enjoy the books on an easily portable piece of equipment. Importantly, they can share the book with family members who don’t have the same challenges and are on the same account.
As a matter of principle Bufo wouldn't recommend any e-book that has text-to-speech access disabled. What do you think? How important is text-to-speech to you? Since the technology is readily available, shouldn't everyone embrace it for the benefit of those who cannot consume content otherwise?

Related: Amazon, Kobo and Sony request e-readers be exempt from accessibility laws

Last edited by Alexander Turcic; 08-27-2013 at 06:15 PM.
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Old 08-27-2013, 05:46 PM   #2
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Completely unimportant, as long as my eyesight doesn't deteriorate to a point where I become incapable of reading.
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Old 08-27-2013, 05:56 PM   #3
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Until the quality of text to speech increases, pretty much worthless.
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Old 08-27-2013, 06:12 PM   #4
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Until the quality of text to speech increases, pretty much worthless.
It won't be good enough for at least 250 years. Ever heard the computer of the Enterprise in the original series? Now that I think if it... if that's where we're heading, TTS may actually get worse than it is now.
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Old 08-27-2013, 07:26 PM   #5
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Until the quality of text to speech increases, pretty much worthless.
This.
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Old 08-27-2013, 07:46 PM   #6
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With due respect to the previous posters, Text to Speech is very valuable to me.

I bought my first ereader, the Astak Pocket Pro because it had TTS. Unfortunately the quality was terrible.

Though I bought a Sony to have more updated specs, I am pleased that the Onyx that I won in the last contest does have TTS. And I have used it. It is comparable to the TTS that I have as a standalone software I bought back in the Win XP days (didn't work on Vista, but does work again on Win 7).

Also Onyx is planning to upgrade their TTS with a new voice which should be an improvement over their current one (which is acceptable)

My original thought was that I could listen to the ebook with TTS and not have to convert it to an audio MP3. That takes time and space and if I didn't want to listen to the book again I wouldn't have the excess baggage.

My eyesight is deteriorating such that I have difficulty reading even on an eink, so I prefer audio.

Also, I use my audio books to lull myself to sleep (in lieu of the music that some people use)

Keeping a book playing in my ear has kept me sane sometimes

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Old 08-27-2013, 08:00 PM   #7
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Keeping a book playing in my ear has kept me sane sometimes
It's good that you've found TTS to be useful.

For me, it's just aggravating. Mispronounced words. Poor punctuation flow. Just painful. If my eyesight got so poor that I could no longer read, I'd be looking into Books for the Blind (a lifesaver for my Mom when she lost her sight), LibraVox and Audible.
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Old 08-27-2013, 08:11 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jgaiser View Post
It's good that you've found TTS to be useful.

For me, it's just aggravating. Mispronounced words. Poor punctuation flow. Just painful. If my eyesight got so poor that I could no longer read, I'd be looking into Books for the Blind (a lifesaver for my Mom when she lost her sight), LibraVox and Audible.
This...
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Old 08-27-2013, 08:14 PM   #9
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Until the quality of text to speech increases, pretty much worthless.
Agreed. I have tried a couple of times on my Kindle Keyboard and it was awful.
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Old 08-27-2013, 08:19 PM   #10
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It's not a deal breaker.
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Old 08-27-2013, 10:29 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jgaiser View Post
It's good that you've found TTS to be useful.

For me, it's just aggravating. Mispronounced words. Poor punctuation flow. Just painful. If my eyesight got so poor that I could no longer read, I'd be looking into Books for the Blind (a lifesaver for my Mom when she lost her sight), LibraVox and Audible.

I prefer AudioBookStand.com where I can buy my books in MP3 format. And I do buy for all the ones I know I will listen to many times. I use the electronic voices for those that aren't available in audio or that I'll just listen to once to see if I like it.

I tried LibraVox, but there again, they aren't the book I want to read/listen to.

(My eyesight is not bad per se, just lots of floaters that keep me from focusing )
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Old 08-28-2013, 02:02 AM   #12
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TTS is convenient for me when my hands are busy with dishes or laundry or something else, and I want to keep reading because I just hit the good part of a book. Granted, I would probably head for properly read stuff on LibriVox or Audible et al. if it was meant to be for serious listening.
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Old 08-28-2013, 02:09 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Alexander Turcic View Post
When Amazon introduced this kind of functionality with the Kindle 2 in 2009, much of the attention focused on a heated copyright controversy. As a consequence, Amazon modified their systems so that rightsholders could decide for themselves on a title by title basis whether they want text-to-speech enabled or not.
You neglect to mention that Amazon have subsequently dropped TTS from their entire eInk range. Clearly it's not a feature that the majority of customers place a high value on.
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Old 08-28-2013, 02:22 AM   #14
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How important is text-to-speech to you
Totally unimportant. Should I ever become functionally blind I'll turn to audio books, not TTS. I would far rather have Stephen Fry read me a book than a computer.
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Old 08-28-2013, 02:25 AM   #15
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Personally, I wouldn't see much use for Text to Speech, but if it's only a matter of a flag being set or not, I think it's ridiculous not to set it.
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