Bedtime stories were once the domain of loving mothers, but now, a different female voice will be reading aloud to you. Amazon’s Alexa can now narrate Kindle books by way of the Echo — simply say, “Alex, read [insert Kindle title here],” and you’ll be able to enjoy the latest pages of your favorite novel (though with a rather robotic voice). The latest feature comes entirely free of charge, and should work with any Kindle book you have stored in your Amazon library (Kevin Tofel of ZDNet notes that some of his 200-plus titles weren’t readable).
An intuitive service, Alexa will keep tabs on your reading habits by way of Whispersync technology. So if you tell the AI, “Alexa, read my Kindle book,” it’ll pick up on the last book you had open yourself. You can also tell Alexa to “pause,” “go forward,” and “resume reading,” but you can’t tell the system which chapter to skip toward. That being said, within the Alexa app, the tap of a button will send you 30 seconds forward or backwards, or you can specify a chapter, much like you can with another Amazon service — Audible.
Despite the fact that Audible employs professional readers to narrate their various titles, Tofel notes that you almost forget about Alexa’s monotone after a few minutes — after all, not having to pay for a service renders it much more enjoyable regardless.
It’ll be a useful new add-on for the connected home service, especially if you need some noise to keep you company as you complete chores, or need a recipe read aloud to you to avoid constantly going back and forth between the stovetop and the computer. And it looks like Alexa is slated to do more than just read to you — the technology has also recently been integrated for Vivint smart home products, which include various security systems and locks.
So if you’d like to take Alexa out for a spin, you can start with the free Star Wars e-book sampler, courtesy of Amazon, that contains excerpts from six of the new Star Wars series novels. And since it’s a series about a galaxy far, far away, it only makes sense to use a rather nonhuman narrator to tell the story.