Tuesday, March 9, 2010

After muting talking e-reader, Authors Guild now supports equal reading rights for disabled

Last February, the Authors Guild muted the revolutionary text-to-speech feature in Amazon’s Kindle 2 e-reader, signaling that the high-brow New York literary society was more concerned with protecting streams of royalty revenue for its wealthiest members than supporting equal reading rights for the disabled. When the Reading Rights Coalition, a nonprofit organization that represents millions of disabled Americans who cannot read print, held a protest for equal reading rights outside the Guild’s headquarters in New York City last April, the Guild issued an insensitive press release calling the protest “unfortunate and unnecessary.”

Now, about a year later and with the proposed revised Google Book Settlement (GBS 2.0) on the brink of being rejected by a federal judge, the Authors Guild and its publishing industry allies have issued a joint statement with the Reading Rights Coalition, pledging to “work together and through the communities they represent to ensure that when the marketplace offers alternative formats to print books, such as audio and electronic books, print-disabled consumers can access the contents of these alternative formats to the same extent as all other consumers.”

Not surprisingly, the statement neglects to mention that the Authors Guild already obstructed Amazon's attempt to offer "alternative formats to print books" for "print-disabled consumers."

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