22 October, 2009

[Fwd: [gui-talk] Ray Kurzweil Teams with Baker & Taylor on New eReader Software]

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Subject: [gui-talk] Ray Kurzweil Teams with Baker & Taylor on New
eReader Software
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Ray Kurzweil Teams with Baker & Taylor on New eReader Software
By Calvin Reid -- Publishers Weekly, 10/15/2009 2:37:00 PM

Baker & Taylor announced a partnership with acclaimed scientist, inventor
and futurist Ray Kurzweil, CEO of Kurzweil Technologies, to supply digital
content for K-NFB Reading Technology, a newly developed e-book reading
software created by Kurzweil in collaboration with the National Federation
of the Blind. The software will be offered to consumers for free. B&T
unveiled the software at the Frankfurt Book Fair with plans to launch the
new reader in the U.S. at the end of November.

Although Kurzweil is a pioneer in creating technologies to assist the blind
with reading, his new and as yet unnamed software product is aimed at both
the general e-book reading market as well as the blind. In a phone
interview with Kurzweil from his company's headquarters in Massachusetts, he
said not only can consumers use the software to read e-books, but the
technology will allow the device its installed on to read the text aloud, in
synch with a display of the text that highlights each word as it is spoken.
On top of all that, he intends to offer the software for free via both
downloads and CDs and told PW he expects to make money through the sale of
books using the K-NFB e-reader. The software also offers high quality
graphics and fonts and will even read plays aloud using different voices for
different roles.

The Text to Speech function has been controversial and Kurzweil acknowledged
that, "there are a small number of publishers who feel that TTS will compete
with their audio books. For blind and dyslexic users they have a right to
use TTS to gain equal access to print information. We believe this issue
will be resolved soon in favor of universal TTS."

"Our partnership with K-NFB Reading Technology is an exciting development in
our strategy to work with best-in-breed digital media innovators to deliver
the content that our customers and their end-users want," said Tom Morgan,
chairman and CEO of Baker & Taylor. "K-NFB's new e-reader will certainly
make waves in the industry."

Kurzweil said consumers can buy e-books directly through the application and
he said that there will be "a full featured online store including metadata,
advanced search features, inference engine and more." He also said the
coventure will work with major retailers and allow the software to be
branded with their corporate identity. Kurzweil said the venture will offer
access to a "million" public domain titles and a "million" for-pay books. "A
number of first tier publishers signed up today on the first day of the
Frankfurt Book Fair," he said. "We take in books from different publishers
in a variety of formats and convert it to our own format," said Kurzweil.

Kurzweil explained that the K-NFB e-reader software will run on laptops and
desktop computers (PCs and Macs) as well as netbooks and mobile
phones-Windows mobile and the iPhone right away with other mobile phone
operating systems added as quickly as possible. The software can read any
format from straight text to PDF and ePub.

He also described the new e-reader as, "the ultimate expression of my work
over the years. It will have wide distribution and will be available not
only to the general reader and to the blind, but to the millions of people
who suffer from Dyslexia."


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