Posts Tagged ‘whispersync for voice’

Get 1 free audiobook credit at audible.com!

As many of my regular readers will know, I am a big fan of both ebooks and audiobooks.  For those of you unsure about e-reading or looking to take the first step, take a look at my Newbie’s Guide to eReading.  If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.

For my audiobook needs I go to Audible.  Here’s how it works.  You can either buy audiobooks at full price, with no membership or monthly commitment.  An average audiobook, say for example The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith aka JK Rowling, costs around $25 USD for non members.  A larger book, like say Fires of Heaven from the Wheel of Time may be as much as $60 USD, but most are in the $25 USD range.

Alternatively, you can choose to take a membership with Audible.  The basic plan $14.95 USD per month which gives you one credit per month to use on any audiobook.  An ideal introduction to Audible.  The Platinum plan, which I have, is two credits to spend on books a month.  That costs $22.95 USD per month.  They also have an Annual plan for which you pay $149.50 USD for 12 credits or $229.50 USD for 24.  Try Audible Now and Get A FREE Audiobook.  Monthly memberships also entitle you to substantial discounts on a la carte audiobooks over and above your one or two a month.

I understand that many of you may be reluctant to sign up for a monthly plan.  With Audible there is no term commitment.  You are free to cancel your membership at any time with no additional charges.  Audible is part of the Amazon family, which means outstanding customer service.  I can personally confirm that cancelling a membership is no problem.  I did that at one point before I became addicted to audiobooks.  If memory serves, they offered me a deal where I paid something like $10 or $20 a year, got no credits, but retained my membership discount on a la carte audiobooks, but I could just as easily have cancelled.

As I mentioned, Audible is part of the Amazon group of companies which allows it to offer the totally awesome Whispersync for Voice.  This is where the Kindle ebook and Audible are bundled together and your place is synced across all devices both for reading and listening.  You do have to buy the two separately, but the Audible audiobook is offered at a substantial discount, usually for $3.99 – $12.99 USD.  With Whispersync for Voice I might listen to a chapter or two on my iPhone during my commute, read on my Kindle during my lunch hour, switch back to Audible to travel back home and I never need to worry about keeping my place no matter what medium I’m enjoying – Amazon and Audible do all that for you.  Not every audiobook or Kindle book is setup for Whispersync for Voice, but a significant number are, and it’s growing.

You can see what I mean by looking at my Audible library:

Audible ws library

You can see that under the eBook companion column, Knife of Dreams has Whispersync for Voice enabled.

Ws 2

Here you can see that I have the audiobook for The Count of Monte Cristo and as I don’t yet own the matching Kindle ebook it is prompting me to purchase it.

If you’re in the US, Amazon makes it super easy for you to get setup with Whispersync for Voice.  If a Kindle book is compatible it will have the words Whispersync for Voice: Ready right at the top of the book details.  Once you’ve purchased it, you will be asked if you want to purchase the matching Audible audiobook at a reduced cost and passed through to Audible.   Conversely, if you’ve bought the Audible book first, clicking on the Buy Matching Kindle Book link will take you to Amazon where you can buy the book at a reduced price.  For example, for Kushiel’s Dart I would be offered the Kindle book at $5.99 instead of the $10.25 it would normally cost.

If you have a Kindle Fire, it’s even easier.  When buying a Kindle book you will be prompted to Add Professional Narration for between $3.99 USD and $12.99 USD.  You can then access Immersion Reading where you can follow along on the Kindle and the text will be highlighted as the audio narration progresses.

For those of us not in the US, it is a little trickier.  Whispersync for Voice isn’t advertised nearly as well as for our US cousins.  For example in the Canadian store, the one I use, the Whispersync for Voice: Ready is not highlighted in the description.  Searching for Whispersync for Voice doesn’t bring any results unlike in the US Store.  However, it does work;  you just need to be a little more creative.

Here’s how I’ve found it working for me.  I go to Audible first and search for the book in which I’m interested.  Let’s take Knife of Dreams as an example.

Kod

You see that Whispersync for Voice-ready is highlighted in red, so this book is enabled for the service.  You will see that it is showing the normal member price of $39.15.  Don’t buy the Audible book yet!  Next, I go to the Canadian Kindle store and search for the book

KoD2

Whispersync for Voice is not mentioned anywhere, so you need to take the chance and hope it’s the right version.  Once you’ve bought the Kindle book, head on back to Audible where you’ll see something like this (using The Cuckoo’s Calling  as an example here):

Cuckoo

You will see that you are now being offered the Audible book at a reduced price – $12.99 USD instead of $17.18 USD – because you own the Kindle ebook.  Buy it and you’re all set up for Whispersync for Voice.  Enjoy! I understand Audible hopes to integrate more fully for those of us in Canada at some point, but not quite yet.  I look forward to it.

If you’re interested in trying it out, check out Audible’s Whispersync for Voice information page. It will help you get setup with a classic novel to help you try it out.  I can thoroughly recommend it.

If you have any questions on Audible or about Whispersync for Voice please let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to help out.

Get 1 free audiobook credit at audible.com!

As many of my regular readers will know, I am a big fan of both ebooks and audiobooks.  For those of you unsure about e-reading or looking to take the first step, take a look at my Newbie’s Guide to eReading.  If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.

For my audiobook needs I go to Audible.  Here’s how it works.  You can either buy audiobooks at full price, with no membership or monthly commitment.  An average audiobook, say for example The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith aka JK Rowling, costs around $25 USD for non members.  A larger book, like say Fires of Heaven from the Wheel of Time may be as much as $60 USD, but most are in the $25 USD range.

Alternatively, you can choose to take a membership with Audible.  The basic plan $14.95 USD per month which gives you one credit per month to use on any audiobook.  An ideal introduction to Audible.  The Platinum plan, which I have, is two credits to spend on books a month.  That costs $22.95 USD per month.  They also have an Annual plan for which you pay $149.50 USD for 12 credits or $229.50 USD for 24.  Try Audible Now and Get A FREE Audiobook.  Monthly memberships also entitle you to substantial discounts on a la carte audiobooks over and above your one or two a month.

I understand that many of you may be reluctant to sign up for a monthly plan.  With Audible there is no term commitment.  You are free to cancel your membership at any time with no additional charges.  Audible is part of the Amazon family, which means outstanding customer service.  I can personally confirm that cancelling a membership is no problem.  I did that at one point before I became addicted to audiobooks.  If memory serves, they offered me a deal where I paid something like $10 or $20 a year, got no credits, but retained my membership discount on a la carte audiobooks, but I could just as easily have cancelled.

As I mentioned, Audible is part of the Amazon group of companies which allows it to offer the totally awesome Whispersync for Voice.  This is where the Kindle ebook and Audible are bundled together and your place is synced across all devices both for reading and listening.  You do have to buy the two separately, but the Audible audiobook is offered at a substantial discount, usually for $3.99 – $12.99 USD.  With Whispersync for Voice I might listen to a chapter or two on my iPhone during my commute, read on my Kindle during my lunch hour, switch back to Audible to travel back home and I never need to worry about keeping my place no matter what medium I’m enjoying – Amazon and Audible do all that for you.  Not every audiobook or Kindle book is setup for Whispersync for Voice, but a significant number are, and it’s growing. 

You can see what I mean by looking at my Audible library:

Audible ws library

You can see that under the eBook companion column, Knife of Dreams has Whispersync for Voice enabled.

Ws 2

Here you can see that I have the audiobook for The Count of Monte Cristo and as I don’t yet own the matching Kindle ebook it is prompting me to purchase it.  

If you’re in the US, Amazon makes it super easy for you to get setup with Whispersync for Voice.  If a Kindle book is compatible it will have the words Whispersync for Voice: Ready right at the top of the book details.  Once you’ve purchased it, you will be asked if you want to purchase the matching Audible audiobook at a reduced cost and passed through to Audible.   Conversely, if you’ve bought the Audible book first, clicking on the Buy Matching Kindle Book link will take you to Amazon where you can buy the book at a reduced price.  For example, for Kushiel’s Dart I would be offered the Kindle book at $5.99 instead of the $10.25 it would normally cost.

If you have a Kindle Fire, it’s even easier.  When buying a Kindle book you will be prompted to Add Professional Narration for between $3.99 USD and $12.99 USD.  You can then access Immersion Reading where you can follow along on the Kindle and the text will be highlighted as the audio narration progresses.

For those of us not in the US, it is a little trickier.  Whispersync for Voice isn’t advertised nearly as well as for our US cousins.  For example in the Canadian store, the one I use, the Whispersync for Voice: Ready is not highlighted in the description.  Searching for Whispersync for Voice doesn’t bring any results unlike in the US Store.  However, it does work;  you just need to be a little more creative.  

Here’s how I’ve found it working for me.  I go to Audible first and search for the book in which I’m interested.  Let’s take Knife of Dreams as an example.  

Kod

You see that Whispersync for Voice-ready is highlighted in red, so this book is enabled for the service.  You will see that it is showing the normal member price of $39.15.  Don’t buy the Audible book yet!  Next, I go to the Canadian Kindle store and search for the book

KoD2

Whispersync for Voice is not mentioned anywhere, so you need to take the chance and hope it’s the right version.  Once you’ve bought the Kindle book, head on back to Audible where you’ll see something like this (using The Cuckoo’s Calling  as an example here):

Cuckoo

You will see that you are now being offered the Audible book at a reduced price – $12.99 USD instead of $17.18 USD – because you own the Kindle ebook.  Buy it and you’re all set up for Whispersync for Voice.  Enjoy! I understand Audible hopes to integrate more fully for those of us in Canada at some point, but not quite yet.  I look forward to it.

If you’re interested in trying it out, check out Audible’s Whispersync for Voice information page. It will help you get setup with a classic novel to help you try it out.  I can thoroughly recommend it.

If you have any questions on Audible or about Whispersync for Voice please let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to help out.

Today a friend alerted me (thanks Stèphane!) that Amazon has sneaked its 7inch Amazon Kindle Fire tablet into the Canadian store for pre-order.  I have put one on pre-order for your reviewing pleasure.  I may return it as I did the Kobo Aura, but I do want to check it out.

(more…)

WARNING – THIS POST CONTAINS LONG RANT. PROCEED AT OWN RISK

For those of you in Canada who purchase Kindle books from amazon.com, you may have noticed that the site has been pushing you to switch your account to the newly opened Canadian Kindle store at amazon.ca. It appears in the last few days, the vast majority of Kindle books are no longer available from amazon.com for customers with a registered Canadian address.

I have been a loyal Kindle customer now for several years and now I have suddenly found myself cut off from services on which I rely, some of which, for me, raise Amazon above the competition.

In Jeff Bezos’ presentation in September 2012 to launch the new Kindles, one of the new innovations promoted was Whispersync for Voice with Audible books. I was very excited about this, and since its launch, I have made extensive use of this service. Naturally, I am very disappointed that it appears I will no longer have access to it for future purchases. It is infuriating that Canadian users had access to this service and now have had it removed. For me this is a significant deterioration in the service I have come to expect from Amazon. It is my sincere hope that Amazon will find some way to reinstate this service for Canadian users.

The Amazon site says it’s “great news” yet tells you the following:

Periodicals and Newsstand
Currently active subscriptions will be canceled upon transferring to another country. A pro-rated refund will be applied if there are any remaining issues you have already paid for. Once subscriptions are canceled, you will not be able to access past issues. Periodical subscription availability varies by market.

Music
Amazon Cloud Player is not supported in your new country. You will no longer be able to access your Cloud Player music library from your device after you have transferred your account to your new country. However, you may continue to access your music locally on your device by downloading it from Cloud Player prior to transferring your account to your new country.

Video
Videos purchased in your current country will no longer be available after transferring your account.

“Great news!” Really? Loss of access to purchased content is “great news?”

Over the three years that I have had my Kindle, and happily purchased from amazon.com/kindle, I have used my Wishlist as a way of keeping track of books which interest me. It has now grown to 6 pages and is now rendered useless by the forced swap to amazon.ca for Kindle purchases. Although this may seem a minor complaint from Amazon’s point of view, from the individual user’s point of view, users who are Amazon’s bread and butter, it is a cause of significant frustration. It would have been a nice touch to have offered a way to export this list to amazon.ca.

When I contacted Kindle support to ask about this, I received a very unreassuring reply:

I’m sorry, at this time, ability to buy books with Whispersync for Voice to sync with Audible is not available on Canadian Kindle store. We’re regularly working on improvements to your Kindle experience. I’ve let the Kindle team know you’re interested in this feature.

Also an options to import wish list from one site to another is not available. I apologize for the inconvenience you experienced.

The business of our international customers is very important to us, and I have also passed your message along to the appropriate people in our company for their consideration.

We’ll consider your feedback as we plan further improvements. Customer feedback like yours is always important to us. I’ll be sure to pass your message along to the appropriate department as we continue to improve the Kindle experience for our customers.

I really hope that Amazon will be able to restore this service. I understand that this is a very personal gripe, and will not have any major impact on your average Canadian Kindle user. However, taken in line with Amazon’s policy of restricting many services to its US customers, this has left a foul taste in my mouth. I love my Whispersync for Voice and am very unhappy to have lost yet another service.

In a similar vein, Amazon recently announced that it has extended its Prime service to Canadian users. Although for many, the free shipping may justify the $79 per year price tag, even though they are paying the same as our American cousins, Canadians do not have access to the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (one free Kindle book a month) and free instant streaming of movies and TV shows.

Right now I feel really let down by Amazon and I’m beginning to see fewer and fewer reasons to stick with it and not move to Kobo.

Sigh. I really should not have spent yesterday evening looking at reviews for the Kindle Paperwhite eReader. They unanimously give the device a “glowing” review. Now I really, REALLY want one. This is a device I use on a daily basis, so it’s something I don’t mind paying for. In addition, it appears Amazon has discontinued the Kindle Touch, so there will be no more software updates. That is my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

As I live in Canada, I am unable to purchase directly from Amazon, so I’ve had to go through shopereaders.com. They called me yesterday to confirm my order, and I will likely receive it the first week in November. Their first batch is 20, and I’m the 30th preorder. Other than the front lighting, new screen and capacitive touch, I’m very excited about the updated UI. From what I’ve seen on the review videos, it looks so much nicer with the book covers.

On the other hand, I won’t have to wait as long for my Kobo Glo. Tracking indicates it’s halfway between Mississauga and Montreal, so I imagine it will arrive tomorrow. I’m very much looking forward to seeing it in person. I have been searching the web for reviews/unboxings of the Kobo Glo, but there seem to be very few. In a way, it’s sad that it’s been overshadowed by the Kindle Paperwhite launch. Naturally, I will post a review once I have it.

I could have really done with my Kobo Glo this morning – I was awake at 4am and wanted to read. I didn’t want to wake my husband, so ended up reading on my Nexus 7 tablet.

On a different matter, I mentioned in a recent post that I’d been blown away with Amazon’s new Whispersync for Voice and I’ve been experimenting with it. In fact, I’m enjoying it so much I’ve even reactivated my Audible account. The book with which I most appreciated using it was Brent Weeks’ The Blinding Knife. I really got into this book, but as we were expecting weekend guests, I didn’t have time to sit and read a lot. With the audiobook, I found I was able to listen to it while i was working around our house, switching to my Kindle when I took a break. Tor has decided to delay the publication of the final Wheel of Time as an ebook until three months after the hardback – boo, hiss, Tor – and as I really don’t want another hardback, I will be getting the Audible version on release day.

I will not be doing my Most Difficult Books this next week or two as I’m busy with other things, but will catch up at some point. My next post will likely be the review of the Kobo Glo – see you then!

So in the last 48 hours both Kobo and Amazon have released details of the next iterations of their ereader products. Full details can be found at the Kindle and Kobo websites. It should be noted that I watched the Amazon press conference, but all I know of the new Kobo offerings is what Kobo has put on their website.

At the lower price point end of the scale, Amazon has refreshed the screen and reduced the price of their base model Kindle – it now costs just $69. It doesn’t have a touch interface. The Kobo base end model is now touch based, but reduced in size to a 5 inch screen. It costs just $79 dollars. As an advocate of e-reading it’s great to see that the entry level models are so reasonably priced.

Naturally, I was most interested in the touch readers. The big selling feature of both the new Kobo and Kindle touch devices is the front lighting to allow you to read when in a darkened environment. I often like to read in bed in the morning when I wake up, and don’t like to disturb my husband sleeping next to me, so this is something to which I was looking forward. I have had the lighted Kindle cover, but that adds a lot of bulk and weight to the device.

For once Amazon and Kobo were playing catchup to Barnes and Noble who launched their Nook with Glowlight six months ago. It remains to be seen if Amazon and Kobo do it better.

Both new touch devices are offering enhanced displays. Kobo is offering the 6″ Pearl E Ink touch screen, Plus XGA High Resolution with 16 levels of grey scale. The new Amazon Paperwhite offers 25% more contrast compared to the current edition with a 6″ Paperwhite display, 212 ppi, optimized font technology and 16-level gray scale.

In terms of battery life, Amazon appears to have taken the lead here. Amazon states that a single charge lasts up to eight weeks, based on a half hour of reading per day with wireless off and the light setting at 10. Battery life will vary based on light and wireless usage. Kobo states one month per charge… with the footnote that that is with the light turned off. With the light on, you can only expect 55 hours of reading. That’s probably not much more than I would expect from my Nexus 7 tablet.

Two other things jumped out at me regarding the new Kindle Paperwhite. The touch screen is capacitive (like the iPad or Nexus) rather than the infrared of the current Kindle Touch. Capacitive allows for faster response than infrared and does away with the need for a large bevel, making the device thinner. I found an interesting info graphic regarding the differences. When typing on my eInk infrared touch devices I’ve grown used to typing a letter – breathe – type the next letter – breathe – next letter. It will be interesting to see how much better that is on a new Kindle capacitive touch device.

The second thing to jump out at me was that Amazon has FINALLY updated the UI for the Touch. All I can say is Halle-frickin’-lujah. It was about time. Lines of text as a navigation system are so last millennium. They’re finally switching to using book covers. I hope that with the faster touch response time this will make a wonderful experience.

Oh yes, one other new feature that Amazon has added is a guide as to how much time it will take you to finish the current chapter. That may be a gimmick, but it could be useful. I imagine I’ll just have to try for myself.

Both these devices look great, and I hope to add them to my collection. I had planned to purchase the Kindle Paperwhite first, but Amazon’s US centric focus foiled me: “this product is not available in your country”. So I went ahead and placed my order for the Kobo Glo. It should be with me on or around the first of October. I will certainly do a full review.

With regard to the tablets, I’m going to direct you to the Kindle Fire and Kobo Arc product pages. With my disappointment in the Kobo Vox, and the Kindle Fire’s lack of availability and content in Canada, I’m hard pressed to recommend either of these devices over a more open tablet such as the Google Nexus. Of course, your mileage may vary, as they say.

One other thing from the Amazon press conference which did absolutely blow me away was Whispersync for Voice. Amazon owns Audible, one of the main suppliers of audiobooks and now through Whispersync the two media are tightly integrated. You can listen to the audiobook in the car, then pick up the book on your Kindle when you get home and, get this, it will track your progress, so you will never lose your place. That just blows me away. Also, Amazon is now offering audiobooks of some of the books you own at a fraction of the normal price: when browsing Amazon’s site today I came across this:

Whispersync for Voice

Now you can switch back and forth between reading the Kindle book and listening to the Audible audiobook.

Because you own this Kindle book, you can add the professional narration of Towers of Midnight (The Wheel of Time) for the reduced price of $8.99. Normal price would be around $50 if I remember correctly.

I’m not big audiobook fan, but that could convert me.

And on that note, I’ll sign off.