I’ll admit that it wouldn’t have ever occurred to me to do so, except I’m a techno-maven and constitutionally incapable of not messing with stuff once I own it. I’m good at it, it’s how I make my living–machines fear and obey me.
So when I got my new Kindle (Kindle Fire HD, 8.9″ screen–the single sexiest piece of hardware I have owned to date) I had to try out all the bells and whistles. It has a 3/16″ headphone jack, and I use a 3/16″ audio to cassette adapter to run my MP3 player through my car stereo. So I figured, let’s see what my Kindle sounds like through the car speakers:
Now, I don’t have any music downloaded onto my Kindle, since one of the first apps I installed was Pandora, but Pandora needs a wireless connection.
So instead I thought I’d try out the Text-to-Speech, and I figured, what the heck, I’ll see how Catskinner’s Book sounds.
It was an interesting experiment. The reader isn’t as clumsy as on earlier generations–you still wouldn’t mistake it for a human reading it, but it doesn’t sound like a broken robot from Star Trek, either.
Now, one thing is that it speaks in a feminine voice, and I haven’t yet figured out how to change that (if, in fact, it can be changed). So that’s kind of disconcerting with a novel written in first person with a male protagonist.
What I found, though, is that it really helps with the flow of the language. Because the program has no comprehension, it doesn’t phrase the text to match the content the way a human reader would. Instead it just recites the words in the order they are written.
I could hear spots where the language felt awkward in ways that I couldn’t ever see by reading over my own work, since I know how it’s supposed to sound.
I don’t think I’m going to rewrite any of Catskinner’s Book in response to what I’ve heard, I’ll just wince and chalk it up to a first effort. But I think I’ll use it to proof Cannibal Hearts when I get to that point–I use Calibre to convert my files to .mobi so I can see the book on the Kindle screen prior to uploading it to Amazon, I think I’ll use that to listen to it as well.
So if you’ve got a book on Kindle, and your Kindle has text to speech, try listening to the machine read your own words, just to see how it sounds. It might surprise you.
Okay, I’ll admit that getting a mini HDMI to HDMI cable so that I can read my book on my big TV is just plain ego. But playing flash games on the big screen is kind of a kick.