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Old 07-20-2019, 02:58 PM   #1
fjtorres
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Audible adds captions--publishers scream

No shock.

https://www.theverge.com/2019/7/19/2...lishers-rights

Quote:

Earlier this week, Audible revealed that it was working on a new feature for its audiobook app: Audible Captions, which will use machine learning to transcribe an audio recording for listeners, allowing them to read along with the narrator. While the Amazon-owned company claims it is designed as an educational feature, a number of publishers are demanding that their books be excluded, saying these captions are “unauthorized and brazen infringements of the rights of authors and publishers.”
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Audible tells The Verge that the captions are “small amounts of machine-generated text are displayed progressively a few lines at a time while audio is playing, and listeners cannot read at their own pace or flip through pages as in a print book or eBook.” Audible wouldn’t say which books would get the feature, only that “titles that can be transcribed at a sufficiently high confidence rate” will be included. It’s planning to release the feature in early September “to roll out with the 2019 school year.”
The Authors Guild is also screamingbut that is only to be expected.

Now, that's one way to sell the pricier audiobooks to the hard of hearing who don't buy them now. And since audibleformat is proprietary, they may have the right to present the data any way they want. The lawyers will have their turn.

(Also, since Audible is tying captions to the school year they might only be deploying it on PD titles. Which would render the whining meaningless.)

Of course, there's also the Americans with Disabilities Act.

And this:

https://edition.cnn.com/2012/10/11/t...ent/index.html

A new battlefront!
Things were getting boring anyway...

More at the source including demo video.

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Old 07-20-2019, 03:34 PM   #2
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This seems very similar to "immersive reading" which is currently possible if you have a whispersync pair (book + audiobook). This feature allows you to follow along in the book as the audiobook is read. I do this routinely on my phone... possible with the android app and fire tablet but not with my paperwhite. It would certainly be a huge benefit to me.
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Old 07-20-2019, 06:11 PM   #3
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I have not bought any Audible books. Why? Because they are too expensive. Would I buy one if they were a better value for the money (like, if they included captions perhaps)? I might. Not sure. But maybe. Publishers don't seem to realize this. They apparently would prefer to charge even MORE for an Audible book with captions. Further assuring that I would never buy one.

They have the right to do whatever they want. Slowly nickel and dime-ing customers until they price themselves out of the market is their right. A stupid thing to do IMHO, but it is their right.

Because Audible is already too high priced for me, I get my audiobooks from the library - where I don't have to pay one penny for them (except for the taxes I already pay to support the library). Trying to restrict features for Audible audiobooks or charge more for them will not bring me in as a new customer, that's for sure. But I wish you luck, publishers and Amazon - go for it!
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Old 07-20-2019, 10:38 PM   #4
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The US Constitution's reason for copyright: "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

It says nothing about inhibiting progress but that seems to be the way it often works, and this is a very good example of that.

The same thing happened when Amazon first introduced TTS reading in the early Kindles. The publishers said no way so Amazon had to back off and make it optional. The publishers could opt out and many did.

I'm all for copyright but it's gotten very, very one sided.

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Old 07-20-2019, 11:38 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tch65721 View Post
This seems very similar to "immersive reading" which is currently possible if you have a whispersync pair (book + audiobook). This feature allows you to follow along in the book as the audiobook is read. I do this routinely on my phone... possible with the android app and fire tablet but not with my paperwhite. It would certainly be a huge benefit to me.
I'm wondering: how many people actually use that audiosync feature and how many use it with titles that *don't* offer a discount on the second format.

Also, has any other vendor doing both audiobook and ebooks found it important enough to match? Does Apple let you sync ebook and audiobook playback like Kindles do? Nook? Kobo? Non-Kindle android apps?

Clearly captions are useful to at part of the actual/potential market but is it actually going to cost any significant ebook sales?

Just trying to get a feel for the negatives of captioning.

Until we know if it is optional mandatory, or just for PD titles there's no telling how meaningful audiobook captions are. Clearly Audible thinks the tech is ready for primetime and as ADA protection but beyond that? Lots of unknowns...

For context, the Kindle DX lawsuit:

https://blogs.findlaw.com/injured/20...der-ada-1.html

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Old 07-21-2019, 03:34 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by fjtorres View Post
I'm wondering: how many people actually use that audiosync feature and how many use it with titles that *don't* offer a discount on the second format.

Also, has any other vendor doing both audiobook and ebooks found it important enough to match? Does Apple let you sync ebook and audiobook playback like Kindles do? Nook? Kobo? Non-Kindle android apps?

Clearly captions are useful to at part of the actual/potential market but is it actually going to cost any significant ebook sales?

Just trying to get a feel for the negatives of captioning.

Until we know if it is optional mandatory, or just for PD titles there's no telling how meaningful audiobook captions are. Clearly Audible thinks the tech is ready for primetime and as ADA protection but beyond that? Lots of unknowns...

For context, the Kindle DX lawsuit:

https://blogs.findlaw.com/injured/20...der-ada-1.html
I have bought both formats at ‘full’ price on occasion (I spend credits which are worth about $12, so that is generally a steep discount over what non-Audible members pay). What also happens is I get the audiobook and then the book gets discounted to a point where I’ll buy it (say <$4). And Kindle Unlimited titles often have inexpensive audiobook companions.

Nobody else seems to do the immersion reading thing, and since Kobo, Apple, Google, B&N have one app for both, you cannot even play audiobook in background and follow along in text.

I’m not sure I am interested in captioning, so much as being able to have better navigation (basically XRay for audiobooks which would overlay an index where places and characters are mentioned so you could jump to those locations more easily). Anyone could do this, but Amazon is 90% there as they already sort of do that for immersion reading where there’s also XRay.

I think as long as there is no way to export the text it should be okay. Real-time Speech-to-text is already pretty good, and if it is just something that is tuned to the book in question so it makes fewer errors (say in spelling names and locations) then I don’t see how it infringes.
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Old 07-21-2019, 05:10 AM   #7
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I really don't see the point of providing captioning for audiobooks. Audiobooks are for the most part, people reading books aloud. Captioning is normally used for people who can't hear, though it's also used in situations where people want to turn the volume down. Neither really apply to audiobooks. Of course, with audiobooks, you don't have to worry about the captioning being wrong since you already have the text. So all in all this strikes me as a tempest in a teapot and more of a "any stick to beat the publishers with" than anything else.
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Old 07-21-2019, 08:26 AM   #8
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I have not bought any Audible books. Why? Because they are too expensive. Would I buy one if they were a better value for the money (like, if they included captions perhaps)? I might. Not sure. But maybe. Publishers don't seem to realize this. They apparently would prefer to charge even MORE for an Audible book with captions. Further assuring that I would never buy one.

They have the right to do whatever they want. Slowly nickel and dime-ing customers until they price themselves out of the market is their right. A stupid thing to do IMHO, but it is their right.

Because Audible is already too high priced for me, I get my audiobooks from the library - where I don't have to pay one penny for them (except for the taxes I already pay to support the library). Trying to restrict features for Audible audiobooks or charge more for them will not bring me in as a new customer, that's for sure. But I wish you luck, publishers and Amazon - go for it!
Emphasis mine.

This is a combination of wishful thinking and projection, in total ignorance of reality. Despite your last sentence, I suspect what you really want to do is laugh and point as sales tank, as you seem confidently to expect they will.

The fact is that audiobooks are the fastest growing segment of the publishing market and that Audible has the lion's share of that market. So far, their strategy is working.

Yeah, I wish audiobooks were cheaper, too. I bemoaned each step as Audible grabbed back cheaper options, especially WhisperSync prices on library books and WhisperSync audiobooks for a couple of books. But I don't kid myself that these steps haven't increased revenues and profits.
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Old 07-21-2019, 09:30 AM   #9
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Emphasis mine.

This is a combination of wishful thinking and projection, in total ignorance of reality.
.
I have no way of knowing the intent, but try reading it this way:

Quote:

Publishers don't seem to realize this. They apparently would prefer to charge even MORE for an Audible book with captions. Further assuring that I would never buy one.

They have the right to do whatever they want. Slowly nickel and dime-ing customers until they price themselves out of the market is their right. A stupid thing to do IMHO, but it is their right.
"They" might have a different refrerent.

Anyway, you're right: there is big money in digital audiobooks. And they have been experiencing double digit growth for years... from a very low base. Total sales still add up to a fraction of ebooks. Looking at the perces they still have about two, three years of significant growth before settling into a more typical publishing pattern.

One thing to bear in mind about audiobooks and captions is two thirds are consumed while multitasking rather than immersive singletasking. Captions look to be an attempt to expand the latter pool. There is only so far they can grow if carpoolers remain the biggest segment.

Given the source, take this with a pound of salt:

https://goodereader.com/blog/audiobo...stics-for-2018

Still it seems like a fair enough look at the business and it's prospects.
In many ways it is at about the state ebooks were in in 2012, say roughly when the Kindle TTS catfight errupted.
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Old 07-21-2019, 01:09 PM   #10
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If it works, then it is just a matter of time until a standalone app listens in to everything and transcribes it into text. Put it in a delayed playback, so you have a small look ahead and call it a day.

Who could possibly complain about that?
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Old 07-21-2019, 02:11 PM   #11
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This is something I'll never use. When I'm listening to an audiobook, the last thing I want to do is read the text. Doing so prevents me from multi-tasking.

I suspect this will be a niche market and I fail to see what publishers and authors are getting so worked up about, since the consumer has to pay for a more expensive audiobook just to get this feature. And then, they don't have the flexibility a dedicated ebook offers.

Tis much ado about nothing...
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Old 07-21-2019, 08:01 PM   #12
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If it works, then it is just a matter of time until a standalone app listens in to everything and transcribes it into text.
Closer than many think.

https://www.temi.com

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/top-tra...-of-languages/

It's easy to forget software like Dragon dictate was doing it 20 years ago.
And today's CPU/GPU modules in phones are faster than that era's processors and the software is much better, without training.
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Old 07-21-2019, 08:25 PM   #13
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When I'm listening to an audiobook, the last thing I want to do is read the text. Doing so prevents me from multi-tasking.
On the other hand, captions can be very helpful if the listener has a problem understanding a speaker's accent. The problem can be compounded by the listener having mild hearing deficiencies that interfere with some sound combinations. I have used uTube captions to figure out what a video narrator was saying when two or three replays didn't resolve the meaning. There are some informative podcasts I pass on because I have difficulty understanding the accents.

I agree, this is likely a niche use and is probably more relevant to educational material than general fiction. But, it could be very helpful in some situations.

Wally
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Old 07-21-2019, 10:23 PM   #14
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If I was hearing impaired I think I'd ignore audiobooks altogether. I'd stick with the written word in ebooks/pbooks which would also be a lot cheaper.

Mind you I'm also someone who can't see the point of buying the same book in both ebook and audiobook format for 'immersive reading' (or whatever it's called) when every text-to-speech app I've ever used perfectly synchronises voice and words on the page using highlighting and auto page-turning.

Perhaps I'm just not the target market for this stuff.
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Old 07-21-2019, 11:24 PM   #15
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On the other hand, captions can be very helpful if the listener has a problem understanding a speaker's accent. The problem can be compounded by the listener having mild hearing deficiencies that interfere with some sound combinations. I have used uTube captions to figure out what a video narrator was saying when two or three replays didn't resolve the meaning. There are some informative podcasts I pass on because I have difficulty understanding the accents.

I agree, this is likely a niche use and is probably more relevant to educational material than general fiction. But, it could be very helpful in some situations.

Wally
Valid points. As for me, if I have difficulty understanding a narrator, I quit listening to that book and move on to a different book.
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