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Reading Rights Coalition joins in L.A. Times ‘Festival of Books’

Posted: April 21, 2009 5:19 p.m.
Updated: April 21, 2009 5:25 p.m.

LOS ANGELES - The Reading Rights Coalition will participate in the L.A. Times "Festival of Books" to educate authors about the need to enable text-to-speech for books available for Amazon's Kindle 2 reading device.

The L.A. Times Festival of Books will take place Saturday and Sunday, April 25 and 26 at the University of California at Los Angeles and the Reading Rights Coalition will be in booth #207 located in zone B.

The coalition includes the blind, people with dyslexia, people with learning or processing issues, seniors losing vision, people with spinal cord injuries, people recovering from strokes, and many others for whom the addition of text-to-speech on the Kindle 2 promises for the first time easy, mainstream access to more than 260,000 books.

Deborah Kent, who is blind and has written over one hundred books for children and young adults, said: "As both a blind person and a writer, I understand the importance of access to books for people of all ages and using all kinds of reading methods. The inclusion of text-to-speech in e-books for the Kindle 2 will help many young people with print disabilities to gain access to books, thereby ensuring that they will receive an equal education."

Randy Shaw, who will be speaking at the Book Festival about his new book, Beyond the Fields: Cesar Chavez, the UFW, and the Struggle for Justice in the 21st Century and is the author of The Activist's Handbook, said: "As a writer, I see e-books not as a potential threat to my rights but as a way for my work to reach a broader market. Readers who have never purchased books before because they were inaccessible will now join the book-buying public, increasing the revenue and reach of writers on every subject and in every literary genre."

"The issue of text-to-speech in e-books for the Kindle 2 is not one of copyrights but of civil rights," said Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind.

"The Reading Rights Coalition stands for the principle that when an individual has lawfully purchased an e-book, he or she should be able to read it in whatever medium is most suitable for him or her," Maurer said. "This principle advances the work of writers rather than taking rights away from them, and it allows people for whom reading was either an impossibility or a chore to join the mainstream of society.

"We hope to persuade our friends in the literary community that it is in their best interest to make their books available with text-to-speech, but in any event we will not stop our campaign until everyone has access to e-books," Maurer said.


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