Is the battle for text-to-speech over?
As regular readers know, I’m very interested in the blocking of text-to-speech access in Kindle store books.
I’ve written about it before, and I’ll just say it: I don’t like it.
I think it disproportionately disadvantages the disabled. I think publishers have the right to do it (under the current interpretations of the Copyright Office), as long as they have some version of each e-book that has some kind of “read aloud” available…even if that version is limited to those who certify a print disability.
I think it’s a bad idea for them to block the access, though.
I’ve been periodically checking on it…seeing how many books have it blocked.
My impression recently was that the big publisher who had been blocking it have started to back off on that policy.
Well, I just checked the top twenty sellers in the Kindle store:
As you can see, only one of the books blocked text-to-speech access…that makes it 95%.
Now of course, I considered the possibility that the nature of the top twenty has changed. You can see, though, that there are books from Random House in there that aren’t blocking it…and they led the move to block the access in the first place. They used to have a policy that they blocked it in all of their e-books.
There are also books from Penguin and Hachette not blocking it.
I figured that I’d better also check the New York Times bestsellers, though. That’s a very different mix of books, by the way. It may be that the NYT list is becoming less relevant. They haven’t figured out how to measure e-book sales very well, I think. For one thing, they don’t even count indies. For another, they don’t count e-books available at only one vendor (like Amazon).
Still, I ran the New York Times bestseller hardback fiction equivalents:
While the percentage was higher (about 16%…three out of the available 19…surprisingly, one book wasn’t available in a Kindle edition), it was still quite low, compared to the past.
It’s always possible that publishers will start blocking the access again, but I do feel like we’ve surmounted a hill.
There have been people who have actually protested this, in particular
I’m happy to see that those with print disabilities, print challenges, and who simply like to listen to text-to-speech are finding it increasingly as convenient as other people do to get the titles they want.
I do think this trend increases the chances that we’ll get a text-to-speech app on the Kindle Fire that can work with Kindle store books.
Regardless, I consider this good news. I know it’s a small sample, but I do think it’s a telling one.
Feel free to tell me what you think…
For more information on the text-to-speech issue, see
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.