image Disgusted with the deal the Authors Guild struck with Google, SF great Ursula K. Le Guin has left the Guild (reply from AG here).

Thanks, Ms. Le Guin. The Google deal, as I see it, is just one example of the Guild’s fondness for botching cyber issues. Hmm. Any chance of a few authors leaving the Guild over such issues as DRM and text to speech?

–DRM, of course, inhibits the growth of the book business as a whole, not just the E part, since the audiences are e-books and p-books are often rather different. The Guild is holding up progress with its backwards stance on “protection,” which penalizes legitimate buyers while bootleggers spread around illicit copies without DRM’s hassles. But tell that to the Guild!

–The Guild’s war on text to speech could limit the amount of time that busy Americans have to enjoy books—making them less likely to purchase them. Just the other day, I skipped buying Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan, a Pantheon book by Jake Adelstein, of because of its lack of TTS capability.

There was zero chance of my buying an audio version or hardback of the Adelstein title. I went with a public domain title instead. If the Guild wants some people to forsake contemporary works at times for unfettered classics—and if large publishers want readers to go with books from more enlightened smaller houses—then TTS shutoffs are a great way to do it.

Related: Ursula Le Guin’s Web site. Publicity photo copyright © by Marion Wood Kolisch.


  1. David-san,
    I have no idea what TTS stands for and my attempts to google it have resulted in some weird answers–but sorry that kept you from buying a copy of my book.
    Perhaps, I will scrape up the courage to ask Pantheon what it means but don’t know enough to comment on the issue in an intelligent way.
    If you don’t mind a dog-eared copy, I’ll send you a hardback to read anyway. Just drop me a line. It can’t be much by snail-mail, I hope.
    Personally, I still prefer a printed copy in hand than a digital copy any day of the week but then again, I miss rotary dial phones.
    Let me know if you still want to read the non-TTS version. Gotta mail out a ton of stuff anyway for New Year’s which is a much bigger deal than Christmas in Japan.

    Happy Holidays
    Yoi O-toshi wo


  2. Jake, you sound just as nice in your comments as you were in the lively sample of Tokyo Vice that I read on my Kindle. Thanks for your note! Don’t worry about the tech jargon. TTS just stands for text to speech.

    Rather than mooching a hardback off you—nice offer but I’d rather pay you for your efforts—I propose something else. Why don’t you see if you can get Pantheon to approve your book for TTS, and write at least briefly for us about your experiences doing this. Will Pantheon respect the wishes of you, the writer?

    Even if you’re unsuccessful, in other words whether or not the book has TTS enabled, I promise I’ll buy your book in Kindle format after you tell us the results. Just give it a try and let us know what happens.

    TTS should be good for your book’s earnings. I myself am the author of a newspaper-related book with TSS enabled (and no DRM). So I’m practicing what I preach. An urban history professor looks likely to use The Solomon Scandals in some classes, and guess how he found time for my book? Through an audio recording. It wasn’t via the Kindle, but you get the idea. Whatever the source of the audio, it can help busy readers.

    Anyway, whatever you decide, the very best of luck with your book!

    You can reach me at if you want to email me with questions or your experiences with Pantheon, or just keep using this comment area. If you email, put TOKYO VICE in the subject line.

    Happy holidays!

    P.S. About to fix the typo in the title in the text of the post.

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