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13Dec/12Off

Reaction: Immersion Reading on the Kindle Fire HD

While I have always like the idea of audio books, I've never really gotten into them. When I am at home, I would prefer to read instead of listening to a book. I could listen on the way to/from work, but that time is usually taken by sports radio (and the one reason I still have a Sirius satellite radio subscription..MLB Radio). With that said, while I thought the idea of immersion reading on the Kindle Fire HD (henceforth just KF), I never thought I would really use it. When I bought the 3rd book in the Seven Realms series (The Gray Wolf Throne), I made the purchase from my KF. The Kindle book was $6.99, and I had the option of adding Immersion Reading for another $5.50 (approx, don't remember the exact price). I decided "what the heck", and added Immersion Reading. I lift weights at home 3 times a week, and if nothing else, I thought I would listen to the audio while working out.

So at my next weight lifting session, I fired up the Kindle app and noticed at the bottom of the screen, just to the left of the page slider when bringing up the Kindle menu bars, there is now a Play button. I hit play, and the audio book started. As the narrator read the book, the words were highlighted to show what the narrator was reading. Kinda neat, I thought. My next thought...I wonder if the audio will keep playing if I turn the screen off. After all, I will be working out and won't be able to watch the screen. I turned the screen off, and yes the audio kept playing. Cool, I thought. I turned the screen back on and noticed I could speed up the narration..all the way to 3x the normal speed. I pushed it up to 1.5x and that wasn't too bad. Pushed it up again to 2x, and that is as fast as I would want to go. But just like that, I've halved the time it would normally take to listen to the book. I started working out, and 9 minutes in, the audio stopped. I unlocked the KF and saw a message that I had reached the end of narration for this book. What the ...? That can't be right. I decided to check the Audio Book section of my KF, to see if maybe the book would show up separately as a standalone audio book. Sure enough, the full, unabridged audiobook of The Gray Wolf Throne was in my library now. For some (silly/dumb) reason, I thought adding immersion reading to a Kindle book would just add audio within the Kindle book/app. I didn't realize what I was really doing was buying an kindle book and Audible audio book bundle! Sweet! After realizing that, I fired up the Audible bookstore to see how much the audio book would normally cost. The normal price is around $27, and I got it for around $6. So, for around $13-$14 dollars, I was able to buy the the ebook and the audio book. I have to admit, that is a pretty sweet deal.

I also noticed something else. When I view the Audible page for The Gray Wolf Throne while signed into my Amazon account, it tells me I can buy the audio book for $6.49 (guess I paid $6.50, not $5.50 as noted above). However, if I browse Audible without being logged in, it gives me the $27 price. So Amazon must be deeply discounting the audio edition when it knows you have purchased the Kindle edition. I should check some of my older Kindle purchases to see if the audio book is similarly discounted. Even if only use the audio book for 10% of a given book, if I can pick it up for under $7, that seems like its worth it. Especially for future use. I wonder if the audio books have DRM? I would bet they do. Anyway, for the last book in the Seven Realms series (just published in October), the Kindle book is $9.99, and adding the audio book is another $8.99. While still a good deal (the audiobook by itself is $29.95), it is above my "what the heck" impulse buy limit. But it is a newly published book. And I bet I will likely buy the bundle once again.

By the way, the fix to the "audio stopping after 9 minutes" thing was for me to go ahead and download the full audio book before trying to listen. Apparently it was trying to stream the audiobook over WiFi, and it must have lost the connection or something. After downloading the full audio book to my KF, I had no more problems. And I have enjoyed the audio book option. I don't use it a lot, but I have used it 3 more times while working out, and a couple of times while driving to/from work. I do not usually listen to the audio book via the Immersion Reading thing anymore, though. When I want to listen to the book, I just open the audio book itself and press play. Thanks to Whispersync for Voice, it knows where I left off in the Kindle book. And when I am done listening to the audio and open the Kindle version, it knows where I left off in the audio. That is pretty sweet, I must say. And I don't believe you need to own a Kindle Fire to get these benefits. I believe if you have an Android (yeah!) or iPhone (boo!), you can load both the audible app and the kindle app and get the same Whispersync for Voice benefits.

So, that is my experience so far with Immersion Reading/Whispersync for Voice. While initially I just thought it sounded cool but wouldn't interest me, I will say that it is another reason I am glad to have the Kindle Fire HD 8.9". As I said in my recent review, if you are invested in the Amazon ecosystem, it is a truly fantastic device (especially since you can sideload apps from Google Play to get around the lesser amount of apps in the Amazon App store).

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  1. my question is this:
    do you have to buy the immersion reading for every book you buy? If you buy it once, can you use the same feature while reading other books.

    • Kate…you would need to buy it for each book. To get immersion reading, you need both the audio book and the kindle book (of the same book). Once you have both the audio & ebook, you can then use them together (Immersion reading), or separately (Whispersync for Voice..which means Amazon lets you jump back and forth between the audio book and the kindle book). If this explanation is still confusing, let me know and I will try to explain further.


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