As though I didn't already love my Kindle enough, Amazon comes up with Whispersync for Voice, a feature that speaks loud and clear to those of us who love to listen to our books as much as we love to read them. Those readers with busy work schedules and other responsibilities don't always have the option to read as much as we'd like. We find time when we can to get a few pages in. Audiobooks can prove to be useful in that regard. The house needs to be cleaned? It's time to put in a mile on the treadmill? Got a long commute? Stick a book in your ears and the time flies. But there are times when reading the actual book is preferable. For one thing, I'm sure many of us likely read a bit faster than we listen. And it's not always convenient or an option to have earphones in our ears.
Here's how Whispersync for Voice works in a nutshell, according to Amazon's site. 1) Buy the Kindle book. 2) Add narration. 3. Switch between reading and listening.The "listening" part requires the Audible app for Android or iPhone/iPod Touch, or a Kindle Fire. It doesn't appear to work in the Kindle Touch. And not all of the books offer this option, but we'll get to that in a bit. First, here's Amazon's video promoting the option, which breaks down the feature and the process pretty neatly.
Whispersync for Voice hasn't invented the option to switch off between reading and listening to a book, it's just making it simpler and more affordable. I've subscribed to Audible.com on and off for close to a decade. When I had a long commute to and from work, I was a big audiobook listener. I cancelled my subscription when I no longer had the commute to deal with and lately I do most of my reading through my Kindle. But I do still like audiobooks when I'm working out, cleaning, cooking or doing anything else that requires an entertaining distraction.
Earlier this year I reread Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game. Since I only had the audiobook at the time, I decided to buy the Kindle eBook and ended up switching back and forth between the two versions, updating the book manually each time I switched from Audible to Kindle. At the time, I wished there were a way my Audible app could sync with my Kindle. Anyone who uses multiple devices to read their Kindle books knows how convenient Whispersync feature is. I barely even think about it anymore, so I doubt I'm alone in craving a similar feature for the audiobook. in fact, I know I'm not, because Amazon came up with it in Whispersync for Voice.
WfV is not automatically available for all Kindle books that are also available as an Audible audiobook. For example, you can get the Kindle edition of J.K. Rowling's A Casual Vacancy and you can get the audiobook version at Audible, but they won't sync and there's no discount to purchase the Audible version if you've paid for the eBook. The option to purchase the audiobook is there among the Formats, but there's no "Add Narration" option.
Just for reference, books with Whispersync for Voice have this logo among the book information (usually somewhere below the Kindle book's price information):
I did a bit of spot checking and found that more books I searched for didn't have the WfV option than did, but I'm hopeful that Amazon and Audible will continue to fill the library with this feature. And I'm guessing Rowling's new book doesn't offer it because it's a new release - but like I said, that's just a guess.
A couple of weeks ago, I started reading Joe Hill's excellent novel Horns. I was enjoying it on my Kindle when I decided to check to see if it had the Whispersync for Voice option. Sure enough, it did. The cost for the audiobook through the WfV option was $9.95. That's the discounted rate to "add narration" since I'd already purchased the Kindle eBook through Amazon. I was adding $10 to the $8 I already spent on the eBook, but I knew by that point that I liked the book and I also felt certain I'd get good use out of both versions (and maybe the audiobook would provide me with a bit more motivation to get on the treadmill or do the dishes). Plus, I wanted to test out the feature to see how I liked it. So, I linked my Amazon and Audible accounts (the process to do that was simple enough - I was taken through it when I clicked the Add narration feature) and purchased the audiobook at Audible.
After about a week of jumping between Kindle and the Audible app to read the book, I've decided I love this feature (the book is also really great, which is a plus). It's about as good as I could have hoped. No more jumping around the audiobook trying to guestimate where I am in it based on what percentage of the book I've read. There's probably a mathematical approach to manual-syncing but I'd be lying if I said I ever tried that. With WfV, when I sync my Kindle, it factors the audiobook into the furthest-page-read sync and jumps to that point in the book. And when I refresh the Audible app on my iPod Touch, it syncs the story to the furthest "page" read from my Kindle. We're all on the same page here, and that's a good thing.