Saturday, January 16, 2016

Alexa, Read My Kindle Book

I received an interesting email regarding my Amazon Echo yesterday, an announcement from Amazon that Alexa could now read most of my Kindle books aloud to me.  

I was a little skeptical at first but a quick glance at the Echo app on my iPad indicated that the majority of the books on my Kindle can be accessed this way.  The primary exception seems to be those books downloaded to my Kindle as "personal documents" rather than as "books."  That pretty much means that I won't often be able to use the Echo to read ARCs aloud since most publishers push those to Kindle in the document format rather than in Amazon's standard Kindle format for books.

It is all pretty simple.  Just say something like "Alexa, read my Kindle book (title inserted), and she's off and reading. The reading can be stopped via the usual "stop" command and resumed at the point the reader left off by saying, "Alexa read my Kindle book."  The only problem I've run into is that some of my book titles are the same as song titles, or they contain place names or compass points that confuse the Echo into looking for directions, etc.  When that happens, the user has to work with the Echo until the correct title is understood and accessed.  And sometimes that demands a good bit of patience.

But although I find the "pause" and "resume" commands useful, I do wish that I could specify a specific chapter for the app to begin with or jump forward to because, without that capability, the user is forced to use the app for one Kindle book at a time rather than having the choice of switching between books before completing any of them.  The app appears capable of placing only one "bookmark" at a time, meaning that a book only partially read is resumed at page one if another book has been opened in the meantime.

And believe it or not, the robotic rendering of the books is easy to get used to; after a few minutes, it is almost like having someone with a slight foreign accent read aloud to you.  I was one of early adopters of the Amazon Echo and I have been pleased with all the improvements made to the app software since I acquired it - something that seems to be happening at an ever accelerating pace these days.

In my estimation, this is good news for Kindle users.


  1. What happened to the feature on early Kindles that would read the book to you? Did Amazon get rid of that? And if so, why are they now making an app available that does the same thing? Very odd.

    1. No, it still works directly from the Kindles...although I have ever only ever used that option when I'm out walking. The app for the Echo is a little more convenient and supplies a much better speaker that makes it possible to hear the reading from quite a distance if you want to read a book that way. Plus, you can just say "Alexa, read my kindle book" and it resumes from where you left off. Or to start a new book, you just give it a title and it starts from the beginning. It's just another bell/whistle on the Amazon Echo (a device I've come to really enjoy using).