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Authors Guild president: Kindle's a swindle

Nilay Patel
02.25.09
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We're not sure his tone or rhetoric are the most convincing, but Authors Guild president Roy Blount Jr. has a little op-ed in the New York Times today attempting to explain his organization's objection to the Kindle 2's text-to-speech features. If you read our little Know Your Rights piece, you already know what he's on about: the main problem is that Amazon isn't paying for both ebook and audiobook rights for Kindle content, and Roy's worried that eventually computerized text-to-speech will be good enough for consumers to eschew buying audiobooks entirely. Take a deep breath, count to ten, consider that audiobooks are a billion-dollar business, and you can sort of see where the Authors Guild is coming from -- Roy doesn't sound too crazy when he says he thinks "authors have a right to a fair share of the value that audio adds to Kindle 2's version of books."

What does this mean for you? Well, probably just higher prices in the short term, as we're guessing publishers will start increasing ebook license fees to cover what they think they're going to lose on audiobook sales, and Amazon and other ebook retailers will just pass those costs along. Lame, sure, but it's not the crackdown some were hysterically predicting -- Roy's pretty clear that the Authors Guild doesn't care about parents reading to kids or text-to-speech for the blind, just the Kindle's impact on the audiobook market. We'll see how Amazon and the Guild resolve this one over the next few months -- in the meantime, point your Kindle to the read link and blow Roy's mind by having Tom read the op-ed to you.

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