I've just finished reading Michael Connelly's novel The Poet. It was recommended to me by a friend - I hadn't read any of Connelly's work before - and I really liked it.
I bought The Poet on my Kindle and half read it and half listened to it using the text-to-speech function. At the end of the day when my eyes are tired the text-to-speech is a nice compromise. It's not perfect but it's good enough when I'm into a book and I don't want to put down!
I liked The Poet so much that I thought I was sure to end up reading all of Connelly's books. I browsed his bibliography and bought another... only to discover after the book had downloaded that the text-to-speech function has been denied by the publisher! What? I've bought the book - I paid for it - why can't I let the Kindle read it to me?
I'm just so very angry about this. Why am I being prevented from enjoying Connelly's work the way I want to enjoy it? The only possible reason I can think of is that the publisher thinks text-to-speech cannibalizes revenue from audio books.
But does it really? They're not actually delivering the same value are they? I buy a lot of audio books and a lot of regular books but most are on my Kindle and since I've had the Kindle I've been buying more of both. [side note: In fact I've listened to audio books and then bought the printed version as gifts or bought the digital text version as a reference source (easier than searching through the spoken word).]
If the publisher thinks there's cannibalization, could it be the ludicrously expensive pricing on audio books? $26 is a typical price and that's outrageous compared to, say, the pricing of DVDs. Is the publisher trying to tell me that it has a higher cost on audio book production than a feature film?
No, it's value-based pricing. But come on, audio books are priced at around 3-4 times the paperback. I think that's blatant fleecing the customer. It's an arrogant disregard for readers/listeners to be honest.
For the purpose of this post I checked the torrents. Sure enough, 20 Michael Connelly novels available in one handy download - for free.
So here I am, willing to pay for content but being treated with disrespect, contempt and mistrust.
Well I like text-to-speech because it suits my lifestyle and I'm not buying any more from Connelly until this permission is enabled. Publisher, you're a shortsighted dinosaur and I look forward to reading more from authors who want a direct, respectful relationship with their audience.