Sunday, March 14, 2010

iPad: Text 2 Speech Again?

Remember when the Kindle DX appeared and the Authors Guild jumped on their text to speech facility? The claim was that they believed the reading was a “derivative work” for which Authors and Publishers should be paid royalties. Amazon conveniently stepped side-wards and left it to authors and publishers to decide what could and couldn’t be heard.

Now in the iPad world Apple has stated that the iPad will read all ePub format eBooks outloud to you. Apple state that “iBooks works with VoiceOver, the screen reader in iPad, so it can read you the contents of any page.” The synthesised reading experience will not be as good as hearing an actor deliver the words, but it will offer it and states it with no caveats on the author or publisher agreement.

Will the Guild will once again stand resolute, or will it bow to the Apple dazzle? If Apple is given a free run, will Amazon return and claim that what is good for Apple is good enough for Amazon? We would expect all the tablet devices to offer text to speech and for that matter most digital devices to have it as a standard in the near future. But does money have to be paid even if the facility is never used just because its there? If someone trys it and on hearing it rejects it, is money still due? If the rendering is dynamic is that creating a new rendition or form or merely using the same one and therefore not subject to royalty. Will the new feature simply create great opportunities for the visually impaired that should not be overlooked?

As we wrote before it will be some time before text to speech can be anywhere near the quality of today’s actor delivered audio book, but does opposing it today make sense on what is substandard audio, or should the debate be had when quality is such that it makes it relevant?


voip providers said...

Apple has stated that the iPad will read all ePub format eBooks outloud to you.

Chris Nicholl said...

Are you aware of this interesting demo of ebook potential on the iPad.