I am a HUGE fan of the audiobook. As a single mom with two kids who also has to work for a living, I’ve found I simply don’t have the time and quiet I require to read hard copy or ebooks anymore, but that doesn’t mean I’ve given up books. Instead, I’ve turned to audiobooks. I can listen to audiobooks in the car while running errands or waiting to pick the kids up from school, I can listen to audiobooks while exercising or walking my dogs, and I can listen to audiobooks while doing mindless household chores like washing dishes or folding laundry.
So when Amazon’s Whispersync for Voice service came along, I figured it was something that might be great for other folks, but I’d probably never use it myself with any regularity. When you own both the Kindle and Audible versions, an audio “play” button appears at the far left-hand side of the progress bar for the Kindle book when the book is open. If you tap the button, the Audible version is played while the matching text is highlighted on-screen. Pretty cool, but not something I thought I’d ever truly need enough to justify buying both formats.
My opinion about Whispersync for Voice changed completely with the book I’m currently listening to (and reading!), The Hangman’s Daughter.
My Accidental Whispersync For Voice Experience
I am not a big fan of the mystery genre in general because I tend to do my reading/audiobook listening in small chunks of time, maybe 20 minutes or so, and with so many gaps between ‘reading’ sessions I have a lot of trouble keeping track of the many characters/suspects and subplots you typically find in a mystery. When reading a mystery I often have to go back and look up certain characters or scenes from earlier pages to keep things straight, especially if there are a lot of similar-sounding names or similar-seeming characters/suspects, and of course this isn’t easy to do with an audiobook.
Still, I picked up The Hangman’s Daughter because it’s a historical fiction novel that also happens to be a mystery, and historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. At some point this book was a Kindle Deal of the Day, priced at $1.99, and I bought it at that price because I remembered it was on my ‘to read’ list. What I’d forgotten is that I’d already bought the audiobook edition with one of my Audible listener credits months before. When I finally got around to this book I noticed that I had both the Kindle and audiobook editions, so I decided that instead of just listening to the audiobook as I normally would, I’d open up the Kindle copy and let the Audible narration play along.
Whispersync For Voice Is A Godsend For Mysteries And Challenging Books
The first thing I noticed was how much I appreciated being able to hear the narrator’s pronunciation of foreign words and names that I never would’ve gotten right if I were just reading the text myself. Next, I noticed that this book includes many woodcut-style illustrations that I never would’ve even known about if I’d limited myself to the audiobook.
In due time I also found myself switching back and forth between listening to the audio and reading the Kindle book text, simply because both were available and sometimes the one is more convenient than the other. For example, I played the audio in the car while driving my son to a class, then I passed the hour while waiting to drive him home by reading from the Kindle edition. When I switched back to audio for the drive home, Whispersync for Voice knew to pick up in the audiobook right where I’d left off during my (silent) reading session in the hallway outside the classroom.
Finally, when I inevitably came to a point where I needed to refresh my memory about a certain character/suspect who’d been introduced a few chapters back, it was a simple thing to use the Kindle book’s text search feature to find all references to this character. After I’d re-read the pertinent passages, it was also very easy to ‘sync’ the book back to where I’d left off by using the ‘Go To Last Page Read’ feature of the Kindle book’s menu.
I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing this several more times before I reach the end of the book because The Hangman’s Daughter has a large cast of characters, all of whom have challenging last names (because they’re foreign) and several of whom have the same first name.
I’ve already got the audiobook edition of another book in this series, The Beggar King, and I’m enjoying the first book so much that I may just have to go ahead and pick up the Kindle version of The Beggar King since it’s currently on sale for $4.99.
What About The Added Cost?
I currently pay $23/mo for my Audible subscription, which gets me two listener credits per month. I’m paying roughly $11.50 per Audible book and I’m totally okay with that price point; even though it’s a LOT higher than what I’m typically willing to pay for a Kindle book, I feel the added value and convenience I get from having the book read to me by a professional is worth the added expense.
When a given book is available in both Kindle and Audible formats, Amazon offers customers who buy the Kindle book a discount on the Audible edition add-on purchase. For Audible members like me the discounted price on the Audible edition add-on is irrelevant since I’ll just be “spending” one of my credits to get the Audible edition anyway. But if I can get the Kindle book at a discounted price, then having both versions starts to look much more attractive.
Those whose preferred book format is Kindle can sometimes pay much less than I would when they bundle the Audible edition with the Kindle copy, because the Audible add-on is always offered at a discounted price and sometimes the discount is substantial. For The Beggar King, for example, the current price to add the Audible edition after buying the Kindle book is just $1.99. Since the Kindle book’s currently on sale for $4.99, that means you could get them both for just $7.
This isn’t always the case, however. For example, Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean At The End Of The Lane is currently priced at $9.99 in Kindle format and the Audible add-on is currently priced at $11.99.
Still, when I’ve already got the audiobook and the Kindle book is available for just a few dollars more, I’m probably going to start using Whispersync for Voice on a regular basis.