Whispersync for Voice
I talked about the superiority of the Kindle platform in my last post and forgot to add the number one feature on my wish list.
I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it.
So what happened? Well, last Thursday Amazon held their press event and announced a bunch of new Kindles-a pretty decent line-up. We’ll know more once the reviews come out. But that’s not what got me excited.
Buried deep in their presentation was this little gem:
Perhaps their promo video explains this better:
Doesn’t she look like Natalie Portman?
This development totally wrecked the last day of DNC for me as I tried to figure out what book to test this new feature on. I also wasn’t sure whether this was a kindle device exclusive or available to the Kindle app ecosystem (iOS , Android etc). I put in a quick call to Audible and a very helpful customer service rep confirmed that I could indeed take advantage of this on my iPhone. The rep also set my expectations that only 15,000 books supported this feature at launch-a respectable number.
Luckily, the book I was currently reading “The Enchantress: Book 6 of the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel” series was compatible.
I then proceeded to Audible.com and used a precious credit to download the Audio version of the same book. Notice how it says “Whispersync for Voice: Enabled” towards the bottom of the screenshot:
So now I have the e-book:
And the audio version of the same book:
When I read from the Kindle book and switch to the Audible app, I get this notification:
And when I switch to the Kindle book from the Audible app, I get a similar notification informing that I am further ahead on the audiobook:
The only small hiccup at this point is that the Audible app does not always force the pop-up to appear automatically, which can be manually adjusted by switching to “My Library” and hitting refresh:
I am assuming Audible will fix this with an update to make the cloud syncing more consistent with the Kindle app.
This has been a long time coming and a brilliant strategy from Amazon. It will especially be useful when listening to long books. God, I wish this was available when I was listening to the fifth installment of the “Game of Throne” series or Stephen Kings excellent “11-22-63“. It also completely blurs the line between and reading or listening. Now you truly are “consuming” the book. Its a much richer experience.
It seemed to me from the promo video, that if you had a Kindle Fire, you could order the audioversion for paying a couple of bucks over the cost of the book. In my case, I had a choice between buying the audible version of enchantress for $24.50 (reduced from $35) or use my monthly credit (I chose the latter). I suspect most people won’t be willing to pay twice (once for the kindle book and once for the audiobook-irrespective of its slightly discounted price), so a price point that is slightly more then the Kindle version and ‘considerably’ less than the Audible version will likely be the way to go. Amazon needs to offer this bundle pricing on its website and once somebody selects and buys the bundle, enable the respective Audible library to be automatically updated. Its a bit cumbersome to first buy the e-book via Amazon and then switch over to Audible’s website and go through the buying cycle again. I’m sure that will also get tweaked over time.
Regardless, Amazon continues to impress. Stay tuned for a future post on the company itself.
Update (Sep 10, 2012): A birdie told me earlier today that the audible app will be updated in the near future to fix having to “manually refresh” to sync your place in the book.