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Topic: Audio e-Books

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Subject: Audio e-Books
Date Posted: 12/25/2010 10:44 AM ET
Member Since: 10/14/2010
Posts: 577
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Given what I know about the technology involved this is easily possible, I just don't know if it is supported (and if it is which brands support it).

I'm planning Christmas for next year and was thinking about getting another reader some form of e-book.  She is diabetic and currently requires large print books (and will probably eventually need audio books instead-aka the e-reader would read it to her).

How is the support for these two technologies coming along.

Date Posted: 12/25/2010 11:41 AM ET
Member Since: 10/22/2009
Posts: 1,452
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Audio e-books have been around for quite a while.  Quite a few libraries have large collections of both audio and e-books that you can download from their website.  The trick with audio books is to get a player that supports the most formats.  Some audio books that the libraries have available are in mp3 format which means that they can be listened to on just about any audio player.  But, I find that most of the books available are in protected wma format--which does limit the players that will play them somewhat.  The iPods will play quite a few of the wma files now, but not all.  I think it's based on the restrictions the publishers build into the books.

Quite a few of the new ereaders will actually play mp3 files, but I'd recommend getting an mp3/wma player instead of trying to use the existing ereaders for listening.  The dedicated mp3/wma players are smaller which makes them more convenient if you want to listen while moving around.  Also, they generally do a much better job of allowing you to navigate through an audio book.

And of course will all of the eReaders, you can increase the font size to one that's comfortable for you to read.  A really big advantage of eBooks over physical books!

Ronda (RONDA) - ,
Date Posted: 12/27/2010 5:14 PM ET
Member Since: 3/3/2009
Posts: 415
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audio and ebooks are different things to me.  but if you get your audiobooks in a download format (like from audible.com) you can load them to the kindle (& probably many other book readers).  Not sure if you can copy it from cds etc, but it might be possible.  But a kindle is less portable than a mp3 player, so I don't think it is the best way to listen to audiobooks. 

The kindle does have a feature called text to speech that will read the book to you in a robot voice.  I have not used it because Kindle 1 does not support it, but kindle 2 and kindle 3 do.  But many publishers hated this feature because they want you to buy the audiobook, so only books that the publisher agrees to allow this feature has it enabled.  it is noted on the kindle book info on amazon whether it is enabled or not.  I have not seen any other ebook device saying that they do this, but that does not necesarily mean that kindle is the only one, just that it is the only one I know about.  Some people love the text to speech feature but others find the robot voice to be a problem and it does make mistakes on the words some times.  From listening to professionaly read audiobooks I can say that the reader can make a book more or less enjoyable. 

there are some services that provide free reading materials to people who are vision impaired.  A co-worker's husband is and she mentioned he gets books on tape for free (I am not sure from where) and I am not sure how bad your vision needs to be to recieve services.  you can also check with amazon about the status of text to speech, because there were complaint from the vision impaired about access on the kindle and they may have made some accomodations for that.  I know I have seen it mentioned that they added features related to how the menus and system functions work for vision impaired. 

 

Date Posted: 12/29/2010 7:33 PM ET
Member Since: 10/14/2010
Posts: 577
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Sorry,

Apparently my question was misunderstood.

I know it is possible to have a computer read back text that you have already input (the PC that I am using even has an old not so good version of this).  It is harder in the english language (which is why audio translators between languages are still kind of iffy, not to mention what you see when you use babel fish).  Using this method a computer (not an audio copy of a book) could read back a book to you.  Where is this technology at as far as the consumer is concerned.



Last Edited on: 12/29/10 7:34 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/29/2010 8:13 PM ET
Member Since: 2/12/2008
Posts: 4,470
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Rhonda already answered you:

The Kindle does have a feature called text to speech that will read the book to you in a robot voice. 

But, not all publishers will allow their eBooks to be read aloud this way.

Date Posted: 12/30/2010 12:43 PM ET
Member Since: 10/14/2010
Posts: 577
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Oops,

I apologize Rhonda, (that's what I get for checking forums while tired).

Is the Kindle (except for 1) the only e-book with this function?

Is there a larger list of the libraries that offer the online audio books?

Date Posted: 12/30/2010 2:17 PM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2009
Posts: 122
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There are other programs, like NetLibrary, but Overdrive is one of the bigger sources of e-audiobooks for libraries.  If you go to http://search.overdrive.com/  and click on "Search for a library" you can enter your zip code for a list of libraries in your area that offer e-audiobooks from Overdrive.

Date Posted: 12/30/2010 3:12 PM ET
Member Since: 3/13/2009
Posts: 8,022
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E-audio can be played on most E-readers (excluding Kindle, if it's borrowed from a library).  Most E-audio can also be transferred onto an MP3 player (iPod, Zune, etc).



Last Edited on: 12/30/10 3:12 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Ronda (RONDA) - ,
Date Posted: 12/30/2010 4:12 PM ET
Member Since: 3/3/2009
Posts: 415
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I don't know if others have text to speech.  try posting your question on mobileread.com   they have alot of info on different e-book readers and lots of users of different readers.  I have a kindle 1 and that is really the only one I follow in much detail. 



Last Edited on: 12/30/10 4:16 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/30/2010 4:29 PM ET
Member Since: 11/24/2005
Posts: 5,638
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Kindle will play mp3s, whether it's music or audiobooks.  

As far as I know, Kindle is the only ereader right now with Text to Speech. Nook and Sony do not have it, and it's quite limited on the Kindle -- limited by publishers, who see it as competition for audiobooks, which is rubbish. No one would ever mistake TTS for an audiobook. 

Date Posted: 12/30/2010 7:37 PM ET
Member Since: 2/12/2008
Posts: 4,470
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Yes, Kindle had to purposely make their text reader sound very artificial and robotic. The publishers were furious when it first came out. They all wanted to disable the function for their eBooks, as they did not want it to interfere with their audiobook sales. So Kindle's concession was to keep the sound robotic. Don't expect that to change in the future.

Audiobooks, on the other hand, are performed by professional actors and narrators, to bring the lush, emotional quality and melodic voices to audiobooks. If someone is going to be depending on listening to books, that would be the way to go.

MP3 players, which play audiobooks, are so cheap nowadays. I got a Sandisk from Walmart that was $20 and it is the size of a large postage stamp, only thicker. I misplaced it a couple weeks ago, and the only way I found it was by looking for the earplugs, which I knew were still hooked up to it. I would say, for that price, don't base your choice in an eReader on the text to speech quality. Let the eReader and the MP3 player do the better functions for which they are intended.

If borrowing eBooks is important to you, know that the Kindle (with the text to speech function) does NOT work with library eBooks. Only the Nook, Sony, and Borders eReaders are able to download library eBooks.

If you decide to get the Kindle for the text to speech capabilities, you will have to buy your eBooks or be limited to the free ones they offer.

Date Posted: 12/31/2010 2:28 PM ET
Member Since: 10/14/2010
Posts: 577
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Thanks everyone, I now have a very good idea of where to go from here.

LOL, anyone who has helped to teach youth public speaking will know that there is no way to make a computer do inflection etc correctly.  I can't even imagine them thinking it would hurt their sales.  The person I'm looking for also reads a lot of non-fiction that isn't likely to be transfered to audio, some of it may not yet be transfered to e-book formats but I tend to think this will only increase almost exponentially over time (like transfer of DVD's if anyone remembers when you had to look hard for older movies on DVD).

I wasn't aware of the great availability online of audio books, that is wonderful.  It's amazing to see where this has come in 20+ years since my grandmother had to do this (at which time if you were in small town America you would either have a limited availability or pay dearly for the greater selection).

EDIT: For those who have gone through college, can you imagine the difference in lugging around one item vs the large textbooks I had to.  In a graduate course, I had one professor who required 15 different textbooks and you pretty much had to figure on needing access to all of them for anything except the lectures.



Last Edited on: 12/31/10 2:33 PM ET - Total times edited: 1