I’d like a combined ebook/audio book product

Just finished reading about a fairly stupid new book scanning product from Amazon and it reminded me of a product I’d actually really like to have – books that comes in both ebook (text) and audio formats, with tracking and the ability to switch back and forth at will.

I read most of my books on my iPhone 6 plus now. Before that was an iPad. I also listen to audio books in the car and on walks. But sometimes it takes me months to finish a book in the car @ 13-20 hours of audio, and whatever book I’m listening to there in the car is of course a different book than the one I’m reading on my iPhone.

I’d pay a big premium for a combined book format that had both text and audio and allowed me to switch back and forth while reading/listening. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

39 thoughts on “I’d like a combined ebook/audio book product

  1. Isn’t that exactly what Amazon Whispersync does?

  2. pickeringvl says:

    Agreed. Love the iPad app by Richard Mason for his book History of a Pleasure Seeker, which allows seemless switching from the text to the audio (read by Dan Stevens of Downton Abbey fame), plus supplemental photo, history, music content. Would like to see much more of this approach.

  3. Michael Arrington says:

    they stole my idea!

  4. Jonathan says:

    Amazon already does that with Audible, it syncs with your kindle book so you can switch between the two.

    • mike griffiths says:

      my kindle voyage, top of the range reader, has no audio capability. So how do I use my language tutor. is there an E book reader that has audio and vision, so I can learn a language.

  5. Michael Arrington says:

    via https://twitter.com/rsg/status/562831187987943424 you have to buy both the audio and ebook formats? That’s not going to work.

    • igor t says:

      It’s not 2x the price. When you buy a book that has Whispersync Audible copy, they offer it to you at nominal cost. You can also subscribe to Audible membership that covers ~25 books per year That’s what I do

      • Michael Arrington says:

        i actually already have an audible membership.

        • hounddogza says:

          So here is my take. I think it is better to separate these 2 functions (Audio and ebook) so that those who only use 1 pay for 1. I assume the business model is such that it costs money to develop and publish in either format. So you and I have the choice to purchase either or both which is better in my opinion. A platform that forces both would probably cost the same if not more and be less popular. But that is just my business mind, not my consumer mind, talking 😛

          • Phil Taylor says:

            To some degree yes. More units sold= less cost per unit. Or develop as app and elective purchase makes most sense…

    • Usually when you buy the e-book you get to add the audiobook for cheap. Sometimes it’s just a couple of bucks, sometimes it’s maybe five or so. There are some e-books you can get free and add the audiobook for just a couple bucks to that. For example:


  6. Benjamin says:

    Yep, Amazon Whispersync does that. What’s nice is that when you buy the Kindle version, the Audible version is often discounted significantly. I got the Kindle and Audible version of John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War for something like $7.

  7. Folium Partners (http://www.foliumpartners.com) has a framework that allows the combination of ebook and audiobook and the generation of apps for iOS, Android and Windows. There are some commercial releases using their framework available on Apple’s App Store, Google Play and Windows App Store. The underlying production technology – i.e. the synching process is quite cool and extremely eficient).

  8. Kevin Pierce says:

    Amazon/Audible’s “whispersync” does exactly what you describe…

  9. Adam says:

    Utilizing the whispersync has changed my reading habits. I enjoy listening to the books while commuting, but still have the ability to easily read when I have a few free moments. Amazon makes out like a bandit as well, I find myself paying a few extra bucks for an audiobook that (without whispersync) I would have never bought.

  10. Diego Remus says:

    I’m also reading a lot on my iPhone, within the Kindle app, and for some books they offer exactly what you wish: I do switch from reading to listening, from listening to reading. You get the offer when you’re buying the ebook on Amazon: it shows an “pay extra $x for the audible version” thou you don’t need to install the Audible app, it all happens inside the Kindle app. Of course it’s always synched. And note: it’s usually cheaper to buy the ebook + audible version on Amazon then to buy only the audio version at Audible (an Amazon company). The thing is: the amount of ebooks available with such audio feature is smaller than ebooks offered.

  11. Bob says:

    If you don’t mind a computerized voice doing the reading, some of the Kindle reading devices have the built-in capability of reading out loud to you…no extra charge, and works on every book (as far as I know). My wife does it *all* the time…while driving, cooking, etc.

    • Michael Arrington says:


    • Christian Anderson says:

      I’ve read/listened to dozens of books this way. It takes a little getting used to and I still have nits that kindle could easily fix, but, Mike, I was looking for the same solve and this kindle functionality works well for me.

  12. Ideally the product would include a smart-bookmark device that also syncs your real paper books by flicking to the same page.

  13. joshdlindsay says:

    I had a hack project, which transcribed(audio to text) a list of podcasts, inorder to provide a transcript for each podcast I had been listening to, for this same reason you mentioned in your article.

    This way I could quote the podcast programmatically, and make searchable database for sound bites by keyword. If that was successful, the ideal was to DVR/record all of TV/cable/radio programs to do the same thing. In this way, you could track/search meme’s across all news broadcast media. without having to subject yourself to the none-sense.

  14. Ivan says:

    To Bob’s point above, I just triple-click my home button on the iPhone 5S to turn on the auto-reading feature. Swipe two fingers down, then Siri will read you the book while you’re in the car. Bonus is that she’ll read out iMessage/LinkedIn notifications too. Amazon syncs up so I’ll continue at the last read page on my iPad/PC later on. Highly recommend.

  15. Winston Chen says:

    Try Voice Dream Reader. Text to speech to read at 2x speed and visual when you need to. Have to remove DRM from Kindle books though. I’m the developer.

  16. I believe Scribd.com does that now … finally.

  17. SK says:

    I bought an ebook on Amazon, but it didn’t appear to have an audio version. Went to audible and found it, purchased, but it is not whisper sync enabled? Is there something I’m missing?

  18. Interesting discussion. As an indie publisher I would be very interested in your thoughts about our first title under Cinenovel: “The Plunge of Icarus.” Our novel/app on iTunes is visually augmented, with music and VO (all cancelable). Perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea, but then it merely presents another option for reading. and stories is what it’s all about. Go to cinenoveol.com and click through to the iTunes and Amazon store to see sample frames.

  19. Ann Dwyer says:

    I wouldn’t mind a computer voice. Which e-readers have this facility?

  20. Douglas Funk says:

    Did anyone ever give you an answer to this question? I would love this solution!

  21. Jef Spalding says:

    Years ago, book publishers often included a informational CD in many educational or reference books. Why not offer a CD audio book option with new book at time of purchase for additional fee? Seems a no brainier to me..

  22. Ana Picado says:

    Most definitely what I want and see no reason this can not happen with all the intellectual people we have creating our new computerized world.

  23. Jess says:

    Words cannot express how much I’d like something like this!!! Please please please someone produce or tell me about a product like this!

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