When Amazon made its announcements for its new fall lineup of products earlier this year, the innovation that excited me the most was Whispersync for Voice. I’m a big audiobook listener and an Audible member. Audible is an audio book service that Amazon acquired awhile back. I pay a monthly fee and that gives me one credit a month that I use to download an audio book for my listening pleasure. I’m also a voracious reader and have used Amazon’s Kindle Apps and a Kindle to do 99% of my reading since that service became available. Whispersync for Voice now lets me sync between reading and listening and quite honestly, I find this to be just fantastic.
There are times when I want to read and there are times when I want to listen to a book. Being able to go back and forth is something that I can now really enjoy. Note that I haven’t tried out the feature that allows you to have your device read a book to you as you’re following along with the text. To be honest, I’m not interested in that feature. But syncing back and forth is another matter.
Whispersync for Voice builds on Amazon’s successful use of Whispersync that helps keep your reading in sync across multiple devices. I’m a multiple gadget kind of guy and have enjoyed Whisperync for some time now. The Whsipersync concept points to why I think Amazon is real player in the mobile and digital world. Because you can access Amazon content on just about any device or platform, Amazon doesn’t force you into a situation where you have to stick with one platform. In fact, at the moment I don’t even own a Kindle device. I did order one of the 8-inchers which wont’ be available until later this fall. But this new Whispersync for Voice, works just fine across the iOS and Android, devices I am using. I have not tried it our on a Windows 8 device yet, but there are both Apps for the Kindle and Audible available for the Windows Phone 7. I’m sure there will be for Windows Phone 8 as well. For users like me this is a killer feature, and Amazon could have easily kept this as a Kindle device only feature. But Mr. Bezos doesn’t think in silos.
Keep in mind that not all books are available with Whisperync for Voice. Hopefully that inventory will increase going forward. If you are an Amazon Prime member there are some contemporary titles available for free. Amazon does have a range of classic titles that you can pick up for free.
Here’s how it works. First you need to make sure you have the Kindle App and the Audible Apps on your devices. These are free Apps and can be found in the App Store that fits your platform. Then you purchase the eBook you are interested in. After making that acquisition you are presented with an option to purchase the audio version of the book. Yes, there’s an additional cost for that. That has more to do with the publishing industry’s business model than Amazon’s because Audio Books, eBooks, and the traditional paper bound books are all thought of as separate products. I don’t think we’ll ever see them thought of as one thing.
If you are an Audible member who receives monthly credits, be warned here. Selecting the audio selection will use up a credit. This extra purchase is much less than the cost of a stand alone audio book. In the case of the book I just purchased the audio portion was $4.99. So, unless you want to burn your credit on a smaller dollar amount, make sure you select to pay for it another way.
Once you’ve downloaded both the eBook and the Audio Book to the respective Apps you’re ready to go. Read or listen to a portion of the book. When you’re ready to switch gears, Whispersync should bring you right to where you left off. Whispersync for Audio works as well here as Whispersync does. In a few cases the syncing didn’t occur as rapidly as it does most of the time. I find that if I’m in a hurry and quickly close the Kindle App that things occasionally don’t sync over and that requires me to do a manual sync to keep things current. If you’re moving from audio to digital ink, you can hit the Sync button in your reading app to get you where you left off. Amazon/Audible would be wise to include such a feature in the Audible App going forward.
I will acknowledge that this might not be a feature that many use. Because of that I loudly applaud Amazon for making it available so that those, like me, who enjoy mixing up their reading with a little listening can take advantage of doing just that.