As Kindle Owners Start to Lose Text-to-Speech on Purchased Books, Questions about the Working of DRM-free Kindle Books Are Asked
Beginning yesterday, Random House Publishers began to disable text-to-speech remotely. The TTS function has apparently been remotely disabled in over 40 works so far. Affected titles include works by Toni Morrison, Stephen King, and others. Other notable titles include Andrew Meachem’s American Lion, and five of the top ten Random House best-sellers in the Kindle store.
It appears that there’s a text-to-speech “flag” in the Kindle file-format that the Kindle looks for and responds to, disabling the feature if it’s set to 0 (a perl script called mobi2mobi can reset the bit to 1). But what no one at Amazon will tell me is what other flags are lurking in the Kindle format: is there a “real only once” flag? A “no turning the pages backwards” flag? I’m specifically interested because Amazon has announced a “DRM-free” version of the Kindle format and I’d love to sell my books on the platform if it’s really DRM-free. To that end, I’ve put three questions to Amazon: 1. Is there anything in the Kindle EULA that prohibits moving your purchased DRM-free Kindle files to a competing device? 2. Is there anything in the Kindle file-format (such as a patent or trade-secret) that would make it illegal to produce a Kindle format-reader or converter for a competing device? 3. What flags are in the DRM-free Kindle format, and can a DRM-free Kindle file have its features revoked after you purchase it?