Amazon is to allow rights-holders to choose to disable the text-to-speech feature of the Kindle 2 e-book reader on a title by title basis, after the company received criticism that the feature would help Amazon escape royalty fees.
The new Kindle, which was unveiled at the start of February, is able to read out e-books aloud. However, unlike audio books, additional royalties are not paid - something which seems to have upset the Author's Guild according to an editorial published in the New York Times last Wednesday.
Titled "The Kindle Swindle", and written by the president of the Author's Guild, Roy Blount Jr., it argues against the Kindle's text-to-speech function. In the editorial, Mr Blount Jr. says that authors must be "duly vigilant about any new means of transmitting their work"
According to Reuters, the Author's Guild has recommended that its members bring up the issue of the Kindle when negotiating book contracts.
In a statement on Friday, Amazon said, "Kindle 2's experimental text-to-speech feature is legal: no copy is made, no derivative work is created, and no performance is being given. Nevertheless, we strongly believe many rightsholders will be more comfortable with the text-to-speech feature if they are in the driver's seat.
"Therefore, we are modifying our systems so that rightsholders can decide on a title by title basis whether they want text-to-speech enabled or disabled for any particular title."
The statement finished, "With this new level of control, publishers and authors will be able to decide for themselves whether it is in their commercial interests to leave text-to-speech enabled. We believe many will decide that it is."