Audible and Amazon Introduce Immersion Reading and Whispersync for Voice

Adam Boretz -- September 7th, 2012
Audible and Amazon yesterday launched two new features exclusive to Kindle: “Immersion Reading” and “Whispersync for Voice.”

Whispersync for Voice builds on Amazon’s current Whispersync technology that enables customers to switch — without losing their place — between different devices while reading a Kindle book or to start watching a video on a Kindle Fire and pick up where they left off on a TV.

With Whispersync for Voice, Kindle and Kindle Fire users can now switch seamlessly between reading a book and listening to the Audible audio edition on any iOS or Android phone — all without losing their place.

“The ability to seamlessly switch back and forth between reading text on any Kindle and listening to the same title in audio on your smartphone — and always pick up where you left off — means that the story can continue during those times of the day when you cannot look at a screen,” said Audible Founder and CEO Donald Katz in a statement. ”We think that Whispersync for Voice can help us all enjoy more books, which is good news indeed.”

With Immersion Reading, Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD owners can synchronize Kindle text with the corresponding Audible audio edition. As customers read their books on Kindle Fire, text is highlighted while it is narrated via the Audible audiobook.

“We’re excited today to unveil our latest innovations that will help people read more and retain more of what they read,” said Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos in a statement. “Anyone who wants more time to read, or never wants to put a great book down because it’s time to drive to work or exercise, will love Whispersync for Voice — it offers our customers the profound gift of more time to read.”

Nearly 15,000 Kindle books and Audible audiobooks are available for Immersion Reading and Whispersync for Voice. Plus, Amazon and Audible are inviting customers to try both products for free for a limited time with 20 Kindle and Audible tiles, including Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (narrated by Elijah Wood) and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (narrated by Anne Hathaway).

To see a video demonstration of Whispersync for Voice, click HERE. For a demonstration of Immersion Reading, click HERE.

16 thoughts on “Audible and Amazon Introduce Immersion Reading and Whispersync for Voice

  1. Pingback: Amazon Takes Two Tablets - Kindle Fire HD and Paperwhite - to Consumers

    1. Dad of Autistic Son

      I read most of the comments below. I don’t care if the audio was $30 and the book $20 (which by the way they aren’t). I would still buy them. I am not rich or a 1%er or 10%er, or 20% or a 30%-50%er. I am a dad who has found that the combination of Audio Book and Digital book are actually allowing my autistic son to gravitate to reading.

      THose who are not impacted by a family member with autism or by a family member with learning disabilities or reading comprehension issues. Language either written or verbal is a huge obstacle because processing the language is different for these folks.

      THis new feature i have been waiting for for a long time, it will give my son the ability to zone out anything that is not being read. Easy for most, but damn difficult for a child with language processing skills who is distracted by “noise” (to many other words on the page, that he is not reading or focusing on).

      If they brought the feature to meet the bottom line, I don’t care. The price of having my son read, AND LIKING IT. Is priceless and something that will never be taken away from him. Its a small investment on my part as my other kids can benefit from

  2. Michael Giltz

    Agreed. This would be great IF the audio version came bundled with the ebook version, as it should. Just as when you buy a movie and the studio gives you a DVD, a BluRay and a digital download of the film so you can watch it whenever and wherever you want, publishers should encourage people to buy a hardcover and get the ebook and audiobook versions bundled in. If you just want ebook, of course it’s a little less but this would greatly add to the value of book buying and not force people to decide in advance how they want to read it. When you buy an album of music, are you forced in advance to decide if you want to listen to it in your car, on your iPhone or on your home stereo? Of course not.

  3. Margaret Hammar

    Amazon is offering a very steep discount on the Audible book when you buy the Kindle book. Some much as 75% off. I just bought a book and the audio book for $15. The audio book was listed at $27.

  4. Arthur Avenue

    This just a cash grab by amazon.
    Nothing new here.

    Text to speech was/is a great feature as there are many titles of which audiobooks aren’t available. Now instead of buying a ebook for $6.99 – $9.99 and having text to speech capability, you have to drop at least $15.00 for the same feature by buying both the ebook and the audiobook when available. What happens when this “heavily discounted price” of up to 75% off goes away on the audiobook combo. Yeah, you’ll pay out the rear end.

    Amazon should reinstate text to speech on the new HD kindle reader, and include support for epub books which have a much larger catalog that the proprietary overdrive catalog available at most public libraries. They should also open up the kindle proprietary system so that you can share kindle books with other kindle reader owners. Epub an open sharing systems are what separate the nook and kobo from the money hungry greedy company called amazon.

    But like P.T. Barnum said, there’s a sucker born every minute. And amazon loves em.

    1. Peggy Post

      The new Kindle HD models DO have text to speech. The product pages have been updated to reflect this (see the “read to me” section).

  5. Jill

    This is awesome, but….

    You should get the Kindle book free with Audible purchase, or at least offer the option to get the Kindle book for a discounted price.

    This is a great way to get new Audible customers.

    Any other existing Audible customers feel excited and slighted at the same time?

  6. John H.

    This “collaboration” with Audible is the very reason I won’t buy another Kindle. I want TEXT-TO-SPEECH capabilities, and Amazon has eliminated that function on the newer Kindles. I plan to convert all of my Kindle books to PDF files, and have them read to me on my Android and Apple systems.

    I been able to quadruple the number of books I can read because of TTS. And the voices are getting better and better each year.

    1. Melissa S

      The newest Fire and Fire HD have text to speech. In fact it is more fully featured than the old text to speech on the eink kindles as you can control reading speed better.

  7. Pingback: New Amazon offerings may shake up eBook industry | Aptara News

  8. Pingback: New Amazon offerings may shake up eBook industry | Aptara News

  9. Daniel

    Sorry Arthur Avenue, but if you think text to speech and an audible book are the same thing, you don’t even know what an audiobook is. I agree that it is a problem paying twice for the same book, but if they give good discounts it could be a great deal for people that like to actually read a book but have a long driving to go to work, for example.

  10. Grover Gardner

    I think some people are missing the point. Amazon just increased the potential audience for audiobooks by an exponential factor, exposing ebook customers to a simple, one-click option they previously might have avoided. Every Kindle customer now is a potential Audible customer in a way that wasn’t the case before. Even if a fraction of Kindle customers take advantage of the option, the difference could be huge.

    There are no “decisions” to make–you can add the audio option at any point. And while text-to-speech is free, it’s no substitute for a professional performance. It’s also a contentious issue with audio rights-holders. *Of course* they’d rather make money!

    The idea of a “hybrid” ebook has been floating around for a few years now. As a stand-alone product, a lot of people doubted how popular it would be. Amazon just solved this by making it a simple, one-click option. It’s really pretty brilliant.


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