Lit Gloss

By Liz Spikol
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Dec. 10, 2008

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I really want a Kindle but I'm holding back because I do so much of my reading on public transportation. Nowadays if my reading material gets jostled or dropped or sat on by a large, damp, unhinged person (and that happens), it doesn't break. Books are sturdy. But if someone were to plop down on my Kindle, it's gone. In resisting high-tech reading devices, I've likewise avoided the eBook trend. But I recently discovered ebooksjustpublished.com. It's the brainchild of Australian Mark Gladding, who got tired of being stymied by Digital Rights Management (DRM) protection that locked his eBooks onto his PC. DRM annoys a lot of people for different reasons, but Gladding's primary frustration was being unable to convert text files into audio for his iPod. So he created a blog to alert eBook fans to unprotected releases, one per day. Gladding is also trying to promote Text2Go, his own software, which translates text into downloadable mp3 files. Here's the idea. If I want to listen to a book on my iPod, I go to a site like audible.com and get a recording. But what if I'm in the middle of reading a New York Times article and then have to skip off to the gym (the former being more likely than the latter)? I'm not going to print out the article to finish reading it on the treadmill; I abandon it for dead. With Gladding's software, I can highlight the article, press a button on my browser window, and download it as audio onto my iPod or other mp3 player. The catch? The voices are only a little better than Stephen Hawking. You can choose from various English accents, from the U.S., England, Australia and even India. The software attempts to have the voices pitch higher and lower according to punctuation, which works reasonably well if you're reading a news article. But you certainly wouldn't want deep-voiced Sangeeta reading anything with multiple voices. This is all PC-only right now, so Mac users will have to wait.

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