A week ago, Amazon.com released the second version of its Kindle e-book reader. Owners of the first version had a day to order a new one and jump to the head of the queue, but I managed to resist the temptation.
The Kindle 2 is slimmer than the original, with more storage, longer battery life, faster page changes and an improved display. Another, more controversial, feature of the new device is the “Read-to-Me” feature which allows the Kindle to read aloud “every book, blog, magazine, and newspaper”. The Authors Guild quickly pointed out that this feature probably violates existing copyright laws.
Several of my books are available for the Kindle as e-books, but I own the audio rights and have not licensed them to anyone. On the other hand, if someone buys a copy of one of my books and wants to have it read to them by a goofy, machine-generated voice, do I care? At this point in time, I’m grateful for every sale. If the same books were available as professionally produced audio books, I’m sure I’d be looking at this differently.
I don’t know how all this will play out, but it seems like our rapidly-evolving technology has lawyers scrambling to keep up. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.