In general, I’m not a big fan of audiobooks. But I’m seriously enjoying "immersion reading" on my Amazon Kindle Fire HDX tablet. It's "Whispersync for Voice" feature combines professional audio narration (from Audible.com books) with real-time Kindle ebook highlighting.
I enjoy seeing words on the page or, more recently, on the screen, so I mostly avoid audiobooks. I like to see the structure the writer built: how the sentences, paragraphs and punctuation look. When I listen to an audiobook, I miss that part of the experience. As a result, I find that during most audiobooks, my attention wanders, especially if I listen while driving or walking.
Amazon’s immersion reading brings together the best of the audiobook and printed book experiences. As the professional narrator brings the story to life, the corresponding words are automatically highlighted in the Kindle book. The narrator, provided he or she is doing a good job, pulls you deeply into the story. The animated words hold your attention while showcasing the author’s writing style. Narrator reading too slowly? You can easily speed him or her up, nearly to Alvin and The Chipmunks speed.
Currently, I’m listening to/reading Armistead Maupin’s latest Tales of the City novel, The Days of Anna Madrigal, with actress Kate Mulgrew (Star Trek: Voyager) doing a bang-up job as narrator.
Unfortunately, immersion reading is currently limited to owners of Kindle Fire HD, HDX, and HDX 8.9 tablets. But if you’re a Kindle tablet hold-out, immersion reading is a good reason to consider owning one. (The recent article by CIO.com's Al Sacco, "8 Things Kindle Fire HDX Does That iPad Air Can’t," offers other reasons why you might want a Kindle tablet.)
Not surprisingly, the audiobook narration is an additional purchase. With Maupin’s book, for example, I paid $12.29 for the Kindle edition and $11.99 for Audible’s unabridged audio edition. You don’t need an Audible paid subscription to add the Audible narration to your Kindle ebook, however.
You’re not completely out of luck if you don’t own a Kindle tablet. With Amazon’s Whispersync for Voice feature, you can switch between listening to the narration and reading the book on different devices without losing your place. Let’s say you stop listening to the audiobook in the Audible app on your iPhone at the beginning of Chapter 4. When you open the same ebook on your Kindle Paperwhite, you can start reading at the beginning of Chapter 4. You just don’t get the audio and ebook reading experience together.
If you’re a book lover, or used to be and have grown a bit jaded, you might enjoy immersion reading once you get past the price of entry—$139 for the least expensive Kindle tablet, the last-generation Kindle Fire HD.