Friday, August 17, 2012

Listen to your eBook and take a rest!

When I am obsessed with an eBook and continue reading on my Kindle Fire for a heap of hours, I wonder whether there is a text-to-speech function available that allows me to listen to the book without opening my eyes(I don't have an iPad which supports TTS itself). In fact, I hope this function is supported on my reading app rather than those on-line services so that my reading won't be too complicated.

TTS (Text To Speech)
TTS is a technology that converts text to speech automatically. There are different forms of TTS applications:  on-line TTS (website), TTS software, reading apps supporting TTS, etc. Do you remember the blind young man in Seven Pounds? Will Smith found out he was blind through the synthetic voice on the telephone.

TTS on Mantano
There are a cloud of android reading apps and many of them are nifty. However, most of them do not deliver TTS engine or we have to pay for the premium versions for TTS function (such as Aldiko). Fortunately, I got Mantano, which offers TTS engine and remarkable features for free.
Follow me to listen to the eBook if you feel that your eyes have been fairly painstaking!

1. Download and install Mantano.
Launch the browser on your android eReader (Here I take my Kindle Fire for example.), search for "mantano download" and enter a web page to download the APK file to your device.

2. (For Kindle Fire) Allow installation of applications.
Tap the right corner on the top of the home screen, select "More" and then select "Device". On the "Device" screen, tap "ON" for "Allow Installation of Applications". Tap "OK" on the following warning window. Then we can install the downloaded app (APK file) on the Kindle Fire. If you install Mantano on other eReaders, a similar setting might be a must.

3. Install Mantano.
Tap "Web" icon on the top menu bar of the home screen and tap the option icon on the bottom bar. Tap "Downloads" icon to get the downloaded APK file. Then tap the file name (like mantano.apk) to install Mantano on your Kindle Fire.

4. Launch Mantano and import an EPUB file.
Mantano seems amazing, isn't it! Well, our task is to enjoy TTS. Now we need to import an EPUB book. As Mantano does not support Kindle books (AZW/MOBI), we need to convert at least one Kindle book to EPUB or download a free EPUB book to Kindle Fire. Here I have prepared some EPUB books. Make sure you are on the "My bookshelf" page and tap "Import" icon on the bottom menu bar. The EPUB and PDF files on Kindle Fire will be detected automatically. Select one EPUB file and tap "Import".

A catalog of sites for free eBook ( EPUB / PDF ) download
How to convert Kindle books to EPUB

5. Listen to the book
Tap the book and flip to a page. Tap the screen and a menu bar will appear on the bottom of the screen. Here we select "TTS". A woman is reading the content!

Apparently, the voice is sort of stiffly and awkward. But this is just another pattern for us to continue our reading without straining our eyes. Let’s close our eyes and have a good rest! Even if you own an iPad, you would have to spend seconds in selecting the content!

reading apps supporting TTS
Here is Best android eReader apps review, some of which are said to be TTS supported. Moreover, one reader remarked that wordplayer supported TTS function and it made any book an audio book.

If you have got one of the hottest Android tablet, Google Nexus 7, follow this guide to read and listen to Kindle books on Nexus 7 with free FBReader.

on-line TTS (website)
A professional TTS website is Text to Speech, which provides human reading. It supports a couple of languages and offers an embedded link for web use. Nevertheless, there is no audio file (MP3) generated and the free service allows a maximum of 1000 words.

Text2Speech is another free site for TTS, which supports several voice types and volume scales. It will deliver an MP3 file to you after a few minutes’ processing. The generated file sounds much worse than what you hear on Text to Speech, of course, but you don't need to pay for it!

TTS software
There seems to be plenty of software related to TTS, yet most of them are not free. I tried one of the so-called free versions of Natural Reader, the MP3-conversion function is exclusively open to higher versions (paid version). I would be pretty appreciated if you share your experience concerning free TTS software with me in the comments below.