It can be great to have someone else read to you…while you simply chill-out and relax. But with conventional audio reading, you have may even have to have a CD player handy. Let’s face it, that’s so “last century” in this digitally-advanced day and age. But now there is a cool hack that can literally transform your library of e-books for Kindle into an e-library of audio versions. You can sit and just listen, even with your eyes closed, to all those same great titles you enjoy. All it takes is utilizing Amazon Kindle in conjunction with Amazon’s popular feature called Alexa. By combining these two cool technologies, you can enjoy a regular e-book in the dual capacity of an audio book.
What Alexa Usually Does
Alexa is the brand-name for the female-voiced feature that powers Amazon’s Echo gadgets, to become a kind of voice-activated virtual assistant. These nifty gadgets allow the user to control multiple Wi-Fi household appliances, music playing devices, and other technology. All you have to do is turn the device on, talk to it, and let Alexa follow your instructions. Alexa can order items online for you, update you on the latest news, help you manage your microwave cooking, give you weather and traffic reports, and even turn on and off lights, lawn sprinklers, and TV sets. Ask Alexa to order Chinese take-out from the nearest restaurant, or help you search for cheap plane tickets. Then she’ll even text your itinerary to your friends and reserve a taxi to take you to the airport.
Make Alexa Your Audio Book Converter
Alexa is all about translating your voice commands into practical action, the way Siri can do on an iPhone. But you can also talk Alexa into reading to you from your favorite e-book on your Kindle. It could be any genre, and might include trade journals, how-to manuals, popular magazines, an ancient classic, the latest New York Times best-seller, or a school textbook. All you have to do is ask, and she’s ready to oblige. That means that with Alexa, and Kindle e-book can instantly become an audio book.
Alexa Can Multi-Task
If you want to hear one of your Kindle e-books read to you, just use an Alexa-enabled device and use commands like “Alexa, read Harry Potter,” or “Alexa, read War and Peace. Or you can get really specific, and ask Alexa to skip a particular page or chapter or read for a certain length of time. You could be cooking, for instance, and ask Alexa to look up a recipe in a Kindle cookbook. That allows you to keep your eyes on the stove, with both hands free. Or if you need to roast something in the over for 20 minutes, you can get clever and use reading instead of using a conventional kitchen timer. Just ask Alexa to read to you from a favorite book, but tell Alexa to stop reading after 20 minutes. As soon as you notice that she’s stopped reading, you know it’s time to take the food out of the oven.
You Can Also Use Amazon Kindle VoiceView
Kindles also come with a text-to-speech feature known as VoiceView. But for now, VoiceView is rather limited in its refinement and capability, and navigation for audio reading purposes is clunky, at best. Plus, VoiceView can pull a heavy load of electricity from your Kindle battery, and that means you’ll have to recharge your device more often when using VoiceView. But you don’t have to wait for VoiceView technology to get a major upgrade. If you subscribe to Amazon Alexa, you can enjoy advanced and sophisticated audio e-book listening right now.
Having Alexa do the reading can be a much more wonderfully satisfying experience, because the newest generation of Echo gadgets offers high-quality audio with premium bass responsiveness and noise-cancellation technology. With the built-in omnidirectional speaker system, Alexa’s voice output can fill a large space with warm, 360-degree surround sound. Alexa isn’t just available on Echo devices, either, because you can also connect to this feature through Fire tablets and some other Amazon devices.
The Kobo company, based in Canada, is quickly gaining ground, and if you haven’t paid attention to Kobo before, you may want to check it out now. Kobo is lesser-known than giant Amazon.com – which invented the first e-reader device – and Kobo is also a relatively new player in the global e-reader device marketplace. But it now is in partnership with Amazon’s biggest retail rival, Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart to Offer E-books
Wal-Mart and Kobo have teamed-up to start selling e-books, as well as Kobo e-reader devices and audiobooks. Wal-Mart plans to begin adding those items to its extensive inventory later this year. Customers will be able to purchase them both online and in Wal-Mart brick-and-mortar retail stores. You can expect Wal-Mart to continue its policy of offering very competitive pricing, because affordability is one of its core values as a leading low-cost retail company. With Kobo gaining popularity and introducing some really high-quality, feature-rich, super-capable e-reader devices, this pairing-up with Wal-Mart is very beneficial to fans of e-books.
Mass Marketing of Kobo in the USA
Up until now, Kobo has not tried very hard to capture the market for e-books and e-readers in the United States. Rather than trying to go head-to-head with US-based Amazon, Kobo instead expanded its footprint into other international markets. But this relationship with Wal-Mart changes all of that. With the support of Wal-Mart, Kobo can give Amazon a really strong level of competition, and competition in the retail arena is always good news for the end-user consumer.
Under the terms of this new arrangement, Wal-Mart will become the exclusive mass marketer for the Kobo brand in the United States. That is a potential game-changer for the e-book market, because it will put Kobo e-book titles and gadgets in Wal-Mart stores nationwide. Wal-Mart has about 4,000 stores in the USA, and close to 6,500 stores worldwide. Plus it is a big boon for Wal-Mart. Once the transition has been fully implemented, you’ll be able to go to your local Wal-Mart or shop online at Wal-Mart, and have access to Kobo’s gigantic inventory of about 6,000,000 unique titles. Kobo publishes all different genres, and books from thousands of authors. The content offered through this dynamic partnership will be available on both iOS and Android platforms.
Kobo Launches Original Content Program
Meanwhile, Kobo is gearing-up for the imminent partnership to happen, by adding some new features and programs to its lineup. One of the newest announcement is that Kobo is starting to offer exclusive, original e-book and audiobook content. Creation of original content has propelled the profits and increased the market share of leading content providers such as Netflix and Amazon. Now it appears that Kobo wants to get in on the game.
As an executive vice-president at Kobo recently explained, “Everything we do is for the reader, and our best customers have told us exclusive content is something they want to see from us. We are pleased to be launching our Kobo Originals programs with Scotiabank Giller Prize finalist, Zoe Whittall and The Best Kind of People. We are quickly ramping up the program, and are working in close collaboration with agents and publishers to create a robust exclusive catalogue to serve booklovers.” Kobo representatives say that there is a lot more to come within the next several months of 2018.
Kobo Features Now Include Large Print Mode
Not only are more titles coming, but those who prefer to read larger print can now do so with their Kobo e-readers. In January a new Large Print Mode feature was added to Kobo devices, during a features update. To find the setting, go to the device’s Main Menu and then look under Beta Features. Once the device it set to Large Print Mode, everything you view will be zoomed to a much bigger font text size.