I like listening to audio books. They allow me to do other chore-like things which don’t in themselves require intense concentration. They are great for long road-trips in a car or on an airplane.
I have also enjoyed – for more than I thought I would – my Kindle. They are especially good for books which you might not need long-term on your shelf.
But did you know that you can listen to books by using your Kindle?
Yes, we have talked here before about Kindles, but I found something new that they can do.
A priest friend in the Archdiocese of Detroit clued me in to the “text to speech” function I hadn’t known about. Once I found it and tried it I have used it to great effect. You find the option in the text size menu.
I plug it into my book shelf stereo system through which I also made a poor man’s sound-system for my TV and to which I also hooked up an old laptop for when I want to stream the audio of radio programs. I have also plugged it into my car’s speakers through one of those old cassette thingies (I have a rather old car).
Mind you, the “text to speech” reading is mechanical. It is not as smooth as a real person, but you can switch between a male or female reader. The pace is mechanical: it keeps moving at exactly the same clip depending on the speed you chose. The pronunciation of some words can be distorted and some faux-words wind up being spelled out, which can be amusing. All in all, however, it isn’t bad at all once you get used to it and vastly-better-read real audio books can be expensive if you don’t get them from the library.
Not all books via Kindle have the “text to speech” function, but many that I have seen do. I just finished this morning listening to my second book this way. Alas, there is no text to speech for the new Laura Ingraham and EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo book, which I will constrain myself to read. No review copy for me… which was a serious oversight on their part. But I digress.
Current topics books are evanescent. They are great candidates for Kindle, because they aren’t lying around afterward. One of these days I will have an enormous Nuremberg-rally-style bonfire for volumes not even the most desperate used-bookstore would take. Perhaps I will include the lame-duck Sacramentary. I may invite all the priests I know to pitch in and then have a BBQ. But I digress again.
Back to listening to books on your Kindle.
The Kindle is not as small, of course, as an mp3 player, but your mp3 player won’t do what Kindles do.
- the battery life is amazing
- you can synch it between several devices, including your phone and laptop/desktop
- you can use wi-fi or 3G
- they can store a large number of books
- Kindle editions are cheaper, and they don’t gather dust
many classics are free
- You can make notes and highlight, though that is easier on an iPad app or computer version
- You can subscribe to newspapers and blogs, though they can be a little clunky
- they are very light, which means you can simultaneously hold your WDTPRS coffee mug filled with you-know-what
A few points against the Kindle.
- It isn’t really a book, is it!
- No electricity, no workie
- You can’t read it in the dark, as you can the laptop or iPad version
- There is no easy print function
- Not all books have text to speech.
In any event, I am having a great time with my Kindle.
Right now they have one for US $139 which has wi-fi, 3G which works anywhere in the world, though it has sponsored screensavers, which you never look at anyway.