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Oh, Amazon, you don’t want this kind of publicity. Today in New York the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and its partners in the Reading Rights Coalition will protest outside the offices of the Authors Guild. Their goal is to reverse the Guild’s threat to disable text-to-speech from e-books for the Kindle 2.
It seems that when Amazon introduced the Kindle 2, it announced that it would be able to read e-books aloud, a boon for the vision-impaired. But the Authors Guild had a problem with that, and so Amazon announced that it would give authors or publishers the ability to disable text-to-speech.
When the NFB asked the Guild to reconsider, the Guild said that the vision-impaired could submit an application to a registration system or pay extra for text-to-speech versions.
The NFB isn’t cool with that, so its members are protesting today from noon until 2PM outside the Guild’s headquarters at 31 East 32nd St. If you support their cause, drop by and give them some encouragement. More details here and an online petition here.
[Update: The Author’s Guild has posted a response to the controversy here. While it gives lip-service to accessibility, it maintains that authors shouldn’t be forced to surrender their “economic rights.” Is this necessary? Is the Kindle 2’s text-to-speech so great that it’s going to cut into audio book sales?]
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