Read Me a Story, Siri

The economics of audiobooks are basically a disaster. They cost a lot to produce, the sellers don’t let you set your own prices, and the volumes are too low. So unless you have a mega-hit or you are doing it as a charity/vanity exercise, your book isn’t ever going to be an audiobook. But people love audiobooks. It’s so convenient to be able to listen to the book while you drive!

I decided to see if I could listen to a regular e-book by having my phone read it to me. I got it to work (I’ll explain how below, if you want to try). It was a little weird. The reading was completely emotionless. It so happens that I was “reading” Calculated Regrets by Thomas Jast at the time. And the main character in there is a sociopath. And it’s in the first person. So the lack of emotion fit the character and it all kind of worked together. But for other books it’s not such a good fit.

Anyway, if you want to try, first get an iPhone. I’m sure it’s possible to do this with Android, but I have no idea how.

Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Voice Over

Drag the speaking rate slider to the exact middle. The default rate is way too fast.

Now go back up to the Accessibility settings and scroll down to the bottom. Select Accessibility Shortcut. Set it to VoiceOver.

If you are in your car, do whatever you do to listen to music from your phone through your car speakers. Stop the music, obviously.

Now go to your e-Reader. iBooks and Kindle both work. Make the text as small as possible. VoiceOver doesn’t know how to read hyphenated words, and making the text tiny minimizes the number of those you’ll have to decipher as you listen.

Update: iBooks has a setting (over in the Settings app, not in iBooks itself) where you can turn off hyphenation. I can’t find a setting like that for Kindle, but it solves the hyphenation problem if you listen to a book in iBooks.

Swipe up from the bottom and go into Airplane mode. When you get a notification, VoiceOver will read it and then stop reading the book. That will drive you crazy. Going to Airplane mode is a quick way to stop notifications.

Triple-click the home button. That turns VoiceOver on.

Swipe down on the top of the page with two fingers. It will start reading and just keep on reading until you triple-click the home button again.

Let me know in the comments whether it works for you, and what you think of the experience.

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2 thoughts on “Read Me a Story, Siri

  1. I like how she said fuck. The rest, not so much. I was impressed she knew how to pause at a comma. I guess I’ll stick to paperbacks. It was interesting though. 🙂 Thanks for posting!

  2. Wish I could afford the studio time.
    I recorded a whole novel on my laptop and Audible denied it because the sound was too low, After 14 nights in a padded closet, I believe I would go mad trying it that way again speaking louder… Great story

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