image Just as I was about to shut down for the night, I ran across a voice-enabled iPad e-reading program called vBookz and selling for $4.99.  Result? I can pick from tens of thousands of public domain classics, download the text, then have my iPad read it to me via voice synthesis. Like the Kindle 2 I once owned, in other words; super-simple to use.

Click on the image for a better view and you’ll notice that vBookZ points out the word it’s reading. Furthermore, the quality of the voice synthesis is about the same as on the Kindle—maybe even better. I hope that Joanna, the Canadian teacher who contributes regularly and insightfully to TeleReaed, will give this one a try and tell us how it works out for her students. Yes, Joanna, this one will handle French. Reads in 13 languages! Each language beyond English costs $4.99. The others are "Czech, Danish, Dutch NL, French, Greek, German, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, Swedish."

When, just when, will Apple make voice synthesis as easy to enjoy with its iBooks program? And when will certain writers and publishers understand that voice synthesis will help earn them more money by allowing people to enjoy books during their commutes? Right now this is one more advantage that public domain books and enlightened small publishers and authors will enjoy over the big guys. I know first-hand. A super-busy history professor at George Washington University used my novel as required reading for his students because he could audition it while going to and from work. He heard some audio files that I passed on, but he could just as easily have been a Kindle owner.

News release about vBookz follows.

ebook Reader on iPad: Books Can Finally Talk With vBookz and Acapela Voices

vBookz is an Extraordinary ebook Reader That Actually Reads for you up to 30,000 Titles Available For Free, using Acapela Pleasant Voices, in Already 13 Languages

MONS, Belgium, June 3, 2010 /PRNewswire/ — vBookZ is intuitive, easy to use, and offers to the iPad users a whole new reading experience. Acapela speech synthesis comes in to turn the written content into pleasant speech, without ever having to watch the screen.

vBookz is NOT ‘books on tape’: it is a live text-to-speech generator with no need for conversion nor stored books files. It is a new way to enjoy reading: eyes-free reading while on the move, driving or just relaxing, assisted reading for the sight impaired or audio feedback for children or those learning to read in a foreign language.

vBookz adds to speech capability orientation and navigation tools that enhances the reading experience, combining two senses together – sight and hearing. An interactive cursor allows users to follow along, pause reading or even repeat lines or paragraphs to ensure reading comprehension.

‘Our goal is to convert reading into a rich user experience, where text to speech quality and acceptance is obviously a key ingredient. We relay on Acapela wide portfolio of languages and voices to deliver the right audio result,’ said Dror Kalisky, co-founder and CEO of vBookz.

‘Acapela voices have already been deployed in many iPhone apps and are now entering the iPad environment to add value to rich content and inspire new ways to transform content and tell stories. We are very pleased to give the say to this powerful ebook reader and work with an innovative player such as vBookz to contribute to the creation of new ways to access and read books,’ said Lars-Erik Larsson, CEO of Acapela Group.

The vBookz application comes with US English built in voice. Books in English can be heard from the first moment you purchase it. The language portfolio can be enriched by using the in-app purchase option.

Multilingual: Acapela voices already available in English US, Czech, Danish, Dutch NL, French, Greek, German, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, Swedish.

Pricing is $4.99 for US English app, and an additional $4.99 per foreign language, with over 30,000 book titles available today

Availability: The Apple Store:

More information at

About Acapela Group Acapela Group, the leading European voice expert, invents text to speech solutions to give your content a voice in up to 25 languages. Our speech solutions allow you to turn any written text into natural speech files, using any of our 50 High Quality standard voices or your own synthezised voice talent. Acapela can answer all text to speech needs and provide perfect vocalization whether for voice integration and development, online & on demand use, audio files production, or ready to speak products for personal accessibility use. Check out – the sparkling laboratory of Acapela Group, for a fresh and exciting take on how speech synthesis can now be used: is a showcase and test playground that shares the possibilities of speech synthesis with Internet users, allowing them to discover innovative and attractive ways to make smart use of speech applications online. SOURCE Acapela Group


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