Some time ago Cheri Fuller (owner of C-Spot Reviews) and I discussed the possibilities of listening to e-books. I own a Kindle Touch which has a Text-to-Speech option and I was surprised that not all e-book readers have that feature.
So I asked Cheri if she would be able to share her knowledge of reading e-books with one’s ears. And that she did. You may want to listen to her:
Anyone who knows me knows that I read a lot. Really. A lot. Now, I’ve got a full-time job, a few side-jobs, and a family. All of them demand my time, and honestly, I resent every single one for taking me away from my reading. Of course, since getting rid of any of these listed things and people would make me sad, I had to find ways to increase my reading time, without losing the joy I find in it.
The first thing I did was to get an e-reader. While paper books are fantastic and any book lover knows that there’s just something about the feel and smell of a book that enhances the experience. Personally, I’ve found that the benefits of e-books far outweigh the aesthetic joys of paper. For one thing, the size and length of a paper book can make reading on-the-go or one-handed reading a challenge. With e-books, it doesn’t matter if you’re reading War and Peace or a five-page short story; you have portability, comfort, and added functionality that paper just can’t provide. We don’t even need to discuss the joys of instant gratification…
Just with that first step, I probably doubled the amount of time I was able to devote to reading. With a small library in my pocket, I could take advantage of every moment spent waiting somewhere: doctor’s offices, grocery store lines, governmental offices, outside the principal’s office, etc. But what about taking advantage of the rest of the hours in the day when you could be reading, but can’t be physically still enough to focus on the virtual page?
The Audio Solution
Audio books have become a very valuable resource for the book- addicted. Now I know many people who don’t feel that they can concentrate on more than one thing at a time and, truly, I feel for them. Some folks tell me that they don’t like to have others read to them and I get that. Luckily, I’m not one of those people. I have come to love audio books and even have a few favorite narrators.
Unfortunately, not all books are available in this medium, so I’ve figured out ways to open up my options to listen to the e-books I’ve purchased. I’ve spent a lot of time figuring out how to make reading any of my e-books with my ears as pleasant and easy as possible, and I hope that by sharing my knowledge, I can help you discover a new way to enjoy the books you love, using an e-reader app that converts text to speech.
Be careful, though, that you purchase e-books that do not contain Digital Rights Management (DRM)—or that you have a way to remove it. Luckily, most publishers are discovering that readers want non-DRM books and provide them. I believe that all of the popular lesbian fiction publishers sell non-DRM books. Amazon also sells lots of non-DRM books, and you can tell if a book there is DRM-free if it contains this information in the product details section: “Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited”.
If your book contains DRM, third-party apps can’t open it, so you won’t be able to listen to it using this method.
The Tools You’ll Need
Now, I’m an Android OS user, but there are solutions for those of you who prefer iOS. Unfortunately, I’m not aware of any free apps for you. (If any of you readers out there are, please share the info in the comments!) However, there is one relatively inexpensive iOS option I can recommend—Voice Dream. A good friend of mine has used it now for a couple of years and loves it. Here’s a link if you want to check it out: Voice Dream. From what she’s told me, the use and functionality is very similar to the Android app I use.
For you Android users, I highly recommend Moon+ Reader Pro. This is, by far, the best e-reader app I’ve ever used, and I’ve used quite a few. Moon+ Reader Pro will read any e-book it can open to you with a synthesized voice. Moon+ Reader Pro will cost you $5, but they have regular sales when you can pick it up for half-price. Probably the best thing about this app is that the developers are constantly upgrading it. So if you get the pro version, you really get your money’s worth.
Let me also suggest picking up the free IVONA text-to-speech app. If you’re okay with listening to your mobile device read to you, why not go the extra mile and treat yourself to better, more natural-sounding voices? With IVONA, you have lots of easily accessible options – and not just for your e-reader but for all aspects of your device that use a voice. For the most part, I use the American English voice, but when I’m reading something set in the UK, I’ve got a British and Welsh option. Reading a book written in German? They’ve got that covered, too. Simply do a search for IVONA on Google Play and you’ll be amazed by all the language options.
How It Works
So, let’s say you’ve decided to listen to your new e-book purchase during your next road trip. First, load up Moon+ Reader Pro and IVONA. Then do the following:
- Take a minute to access the settings in MRP and select IVONA as your preference for text-to-speech.
- Open up your e-book using MRP and tap on the icon on the bottom that looks like a speaker, and you’re off and running!
That’s it! You have a lot of options that you can play with: voice pitch, longer pauses after a sentence, paragraph, or page, and voice speed, so it’ll take you a little while to get your settings just how you like them, but once you do, you’ll be on your way to enjoying books in a convenient way you may not have thought of. No more downtime when you could be reading.
It really is just as simple as that. Both the iOS and Android options discussed here can be connected to various cloud storage options like Google Drive and Dropbox so you can have your entire digital library available anytime you have a wifi or cellular network available. If you feel like you need more information or have any specific questions, there is a ton of information available on the Internet. Remember, Google is your friend! Of course, I’m always happy to answer questions, too. Feel free to ask them in the comments. I’ve spent years researching, working with, and enjoying e-books and never mind sharing what I’ve learned.