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Keeping Kindle 2 quiet

March 10, 2009

Re "Tell me an e-story," editorial, March 4

The Times' editorial misses the point of the dispute about the text-to-speech function on the Kindle 2. Authors and other creators have the right to copy, distribute, perform, display and create derivative works -- including text-to-speech e-books -- from the original content they create. With very limited exceptions, these rights can be transferred only by written contract.

It is the author who decides whether the text-to-speech function on the Kindle 2 can be applied to his or her work. Not Amazon.com, not the customer, and certainly not all of those people who find the law inconvenient or tiresome.

The current awkwardness of the technology is irrelevant. Better voice systems are already present on phone systems. It is only a matter of time before they become part of text-to-speech applications on e-books.

My novel, "The Shenandoah Spy," is available on Kindle, but I have not authorized text-to-speech distribution, nor will I any time soon. I have been publishing e-books since 2004, but I do not think of it as more than a minor niche market. That may change in the future, and I might be inspired to bundle audio rights with e-book rights if the sales justify it. But that is my choice, not yours.

Francis Hamit

Frazier Park

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