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What About TTS & Collections on the New Kindles?

By April Hamilton

We know many Kindle Fire owners have been anxiously awaiting the announcements this week to learn if two of their most-wanted Kindle Fire features, Text-to-Speech (TTS) and Collections, would be included in some kind of firmware upgrade for existing KiLarndles. KF-KND Editor in Chief April L. Hamilton attended the press conference this week, and afterward posed these questions directly to Amazon Kindle Vice President Peter Larsen.

TTS Solutions For the Kindle Fire

Larsen stated that Whispersync for Voice and Immersion Reading are Amazon’s TTS solutions for the Kindle Fire family of products. The original TTS functionality is still there in Amazon’s Kindle Keyboard 3G (currently priced at $139) and Kindle DX (currently priced at $379) models, but there is no audio or text-to-speech on the Kindle Paperwhite or the $69 Kindle.

Amazon is offering discounted pricing for Kindle book + Audible audiobook bundles in order to minimize the expense of the Fire TTS solutions. For example, Rob Lowe’s bestselling memoir, Stories I Only Tell My Friends, is available at the usual retail price (set by the publisher) of $9.99. Adding the Audible audiobook after you’ve purchased the Kindle book is currently priced at just $3.95 more, as opposed to usual price of $14.69. So you end up getting both the Kindle book and the Audible audiobook for under $14: less than you’d usually pay for the audiobook alone.

Paying an extra four bucks to hear the book professionally read (in this case, by the author himself) doesn’t seem like such a bad deal, especially since doing so gives you access to the Whispersync for Voice and Immersion Reading services. Whispersync for Voice allows you to switch back between the Audible and Kindle versions of the book, and both formats will “remember” where you left off so you can pick up right there, whether switching from audio to Kindle or vice-versa.

For a limited time, you can test-drive the Kindle Fire TTS solutions for free with these Kindle/Audible book bundles. IMPORTANT NOTE FOR AUDIBLE MEMBERS: when you go to the Audible product page to ‘buy’ the free audiobook, by default, the box to “apply listener credit” will be checked off. Click the box to un-check it; you’ll still get the audiobook for free, and your Audible Listener Credit will remain unused.


When asked if Amazon intends to add the Collections feature to the Kindle Fire at some point in the future, he replied that while Amazon can’t share its business roadmap or discuss projects in development, the new FreeTime parental controls service is a type of Collection. He went on to say his department knows this is a feature Fire owners have been wanting, and there are some good things in the works.

Amazon Announces Long-Awaited Kindle Features Coming in May: Content Organization, PDF Pan and Zoom, Password Protection, More Fonts, Facebook & Twitter, Highlights!

What’s halfway between the Kindle 2 and the Kindle 3?

It’s the Kindle 2.5, a software update that will be coming in May to the Kindle and Kindle DX, with some of the most important features that we’ve been calling for since the first edition of The Complete User’s Guide back in early 2008, including an approach to the folders issue and the capacity for Kindle owners to network directly from the Kindle around what they are reading. Thanks to Paul Biba at Teleread for the heads up.

We’ll have more on these major developments in the next few days, but here’s Amazon’s announcement text directly from the Kindle Support pages:

Kindle Version 2.5 Overview

The 2.5 software update for Kindle and Kindle DX is coming soon. We are rolling out the new software update to a limited group of Kindle users and plan a broad release in late May 2010. Check back here for updates on the release schedule.

Here’s a list of the coming enhancements:

  • Collections: Organize your books and documents into one or more collections.

  • PDF Pan and Zoom: Zoom into PDFs and pan around to easily view small print and detailed tables or graphics.

  • Password Protection: Password protect your Kindle when you’re not using it.

  • More Fonts & Improved Clarity: Enjoy two new larger font sizes and sharper fonts for an even more comfortable reading experience.

  • Facebook & Twitter Posts: Share book passages with friends on Facebook and Twitter directly from your Kindle.

  • Popular Highlights: See what the Kindle community thinks are the most interesting passages in the books you’re reading.