Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Hybrid Book

I'm a big fan of getAbstract's book summary service (see my initial review here). I recently tried their audio option and was very pleased with the results. That got me thinking...

My eyes have a limit when it comes to reading text; even in the best conditions they tend to tire out after a couple of hours. Wouldn't it be cool if the book you just purchased for your Kindle was a hybrid, offering you the option of reading it yourself or having it read to you by someone with a nice, pleasant voice?

Since the Kindle is already much more sophisticated than a simple MP3 player, why not design this feature so that the audio and written words are in sync? You read for a couple of hours and your eyes get a bit tired, so you press a button to switch to audio. The Kindle knows where you left off and it starts reading to you, at the top of the page where you left off. Maybe 10 or 20 minutes of this audio is all you need to give your eyes a good rest. You open them back up and the Kindle displays the page that's currently being read to you. You press the button again, the audio stops and you resume reading.

Now that's a feature that would make a Kindle edition of a book more attractive to me than a print edition! I'm hoping a service like this finds its way into a future version of the Kindle.


Anonymous said...


I agree with you, having a hybrid audio/text experience would be great. On my PocketPC phone, I've read a novel while simultaneously listening to the Audible edition of the book, and I have to say that it deepened the experience wonderfully.

The Kindle does ship with the ability to play Audible files, but I'm told (mine is still on back order) that it's an either/or proposition: one can't listen to an Audible book while reading on the Kindle. I don't understand why they'd limit the functionality, and others have chimed in on a thread I started on Amazon on this topic indicating interest, including a mother with a learning disabled child who felt it would help build her daughter's reading abilities to have this functionality. I'd love to see the ability to have a 'multi-modal reading experience' on the Kindle and hope that at some point they enable it.

Tyler Steben

Bruno Rives said...

We are working on this feature for Flammarion, a French publisher, here in France. We use the Ganaxa publishing platform and document format, combined with their Ger2 reader, which allows it.