Well done to the Authors Guild! Amazon revealed last night that the text-to-speech feature in the Kindle 2 will now be optional for publishers. The guild had been tenaciously fighting this feature, arguing that it had the potential to turn the Kindle 2 into a de-facto audiobook player. Right or wrong, Amazon has caved, and now publishers will be able to dictate whether or not the Kindle 2 is able to read aloud their books.
It seems to me that the Authors Guild should be thankful to Amazon for creating another viable place for its members’ books to be read—I’d consider buying a Kindle, but I tend to read a lot of university-published books (mainly esoteric history stuff) that simply aren’t available on Kindle. What really concerns me is that the guild was able to argue that the Kindle 2 had the potential to damage it vis-à-vis becoming an audiobook player; that’s something right out of Minority Report, no? I mean, I have the potential to become an astronaut, but we don’t see that happening, now do we?
As it stands, I say we cut the Authors Guild a little slack before freaking out and teasing them, “LOL THEY DON’T GET TECHNOLOGY”: these guys have been in the business of publishing books, true-to-life books, and I’m sure all this Kindle business is a little frightening to them. Give ‘em a little time to situate themselves.