Update 2:49 p.m. PST: to include comment from Amazon.
Paul Aiken and the Authors Guild aren't gloating.
The executive director of the 9,000-member guild isn't taking all or even most of the credit for Amazon's abrupt about-face on Friday. The retailer announced that it would allow publishers to disable the Kindle 2's text-to-speech feature on any titles of their choosing.
He says while Authors Guild managers were "vocal" with their objections to the Kindle's speech technology, including publishing an op-ed piece in The New York Times, much more powerful entities were leaning on Amazon to make changes: large book publishers.
There was one more reason Amazon was prompted to make changes, according to Aiken.
"Amazon realized the magnitude of the contractual problem," Aiken said Monday morning. "Many of the author's publishing contracts give publishers the right to publish e-books, but only without enhancing audio. A reasonable reading of those contracts shows that publishers didn't have the authority to sell e-books for use in a Kindle device with audio enhancement."
An Amazon spokesman denied being pushed into Friday's decision. As for whether contractual issues played a part, the spokesman repeated what the company said Friday: "Kindle 2's experimental text-to-speech feature is legal."
Aiken began criticizing Amazon soon after the Kindle 2's debut last month. He argued that the retailer was violating the author's copyright and was cutting them out of a potentially new and lucrative market. … Read more