A Non-Techie’s Adventure in Listening

Kindle Fire standing

See that picture? It’s my Kindle Fire  HD – the device I use to read 95% of my books. It also has the ability to play audiobooks but don’t talk to me about Whispersync. When someone mentions it, something in my brain switches to “off”. I really don’t want to go there.

See, I officially fall in the non-techie category. I don’t want to have technology interfering in my life anymore than necessary. So what if I’m hearing about all the great deals Amazon offers through Whispersync? I don’t want to go there. I want my listening to follow the exact same process each and every time. Download my selections from Audible into my iTunes and upload to my iPod. End of story. Don’t tell me it can be better. My way of listening is good enough.

So when Brenda and I were brainstorming on Skype recently and she decided it was once again time to try and tempt me over to the Whispersync side, she demonstrated just how effortlessly the “Immersion reading” function on her Kindle Fire HD (she knows I own a Fire) worked. Wow. What she showed me was really cool but, you know, it’s technical. I couldn’t help but notice that she just tapped the screen and the book started playing as the words were highlighted on the Kindle screen. Yeah, way cool, for her. It wouldn’t be that easy for me.

This past week, I was struggling to read my book club’s title for the month on my Kindle Fire HD. Not even three chapters in, I knew I only had three days left to finish reading and decided at midnight to purchase the audio from Audible. That done, I picked my Kindle back up and noticed my Audible purchase was showing next to my Kindle title. Hmmm.

Opening the book to plod through another chapter before starting the audiobook the next day, I saw the audio downloading to my Kindle copy right there on the page – without any effort on my part. What the hey? I saw a play button and tapped it and stared in confused delight as the audio started playing as, sure enough, the text highlighted each spoken word. How had I done that? It was way too easy. Hmmm, Brenda was right. That’s what she had been attempting to show me.

Okay, I decided. I had to try this out for fun and without the weight of an unwanted book. Key up Laura Kinsale’s The Dream Hunter with Nicholas Boulton. Sigh.

Kindle HD ScreenshotOne of my challenges as an audio listener is my compulsion to relisten to passages. Possibly I haven’t been concentrating so I find myself backing-up to catch all the details. Or maybe the scene that just played is so completely entertaining that I won’t be satisfied unless I hear it again. And despite the fact that I have used an iPod of some sort for years, I still find reversing tedious and often end up back a chapter or two thereby losing my place. Frustrating at best.

Beginning my experiment, the next day I sat my Kindle Fire HD on the kitchen countertop where I had a number of projects going. As I started listening, I realized the sound was quite good and I could hear it even a room away. But the very best part? That whole backing-up issue. Want to hear that passage again? Touch the screen (to stop the audio playing). Page back and either start the audio again just exactly where you want it or, as I did, read the part I missed. Then return to where I left off with a flip of my finger. And although I didn’t find the need to do so with The Dream Hunter, I realized that if I was bored with a passage? Skim through the Kindle version and start the audio right where I want to pick back up listening.

I LOVED it. And I highly recommend it.

And I wanted to show you non-techies and techies alike just how easy it is. Brenda filmed this very short yet explanatory video. Once again, we’re featuring Laura Kinsale’s The Dream Hunter.



While Immersion Reading and Whispersync are two different abilities as defined by Amazon,  you can see how easily they blend together for those new to this techie lingo. Immersion reading is the spot to get your toes wet before moving on to true Whispersync. It’s confined to Kindle Fires (the 2012 – 2013 Kindle Fire incarnations) while Whispersync gives you the ability to synchronize the playing of your audiobook with the reading of your eBook across devices. Where you leave off on one, you pick up on the other. It works on more than just a Kindle Fire but I’ll refer you to Brenda for those details.

At this time, Amazon offers a good number of low price Whispersync combinations. Of course, these bargain deals provide them with the opportunity to sell their service to us. I’m sure the cost will go up some day in the future. But that’s not now. Now, one can commonly find quality Kindle books for prices such as $2.99 paired with the Audible version for just $1.99.

I’m thrilled!

Over at our Romance Audiobooks Goodreads group, members post their latest Whispersync finds daily. After Caz’s high praise of Courtney Milan’s The Duchess War, I planned to spend a full credit on it today. I happened to stop by our Goodreads group first and discovered on the Whispersync thread that the audio price of The Duchess War was $2.99 if I first purchased the Kindle version for $3.99. Less than seven dollars for the audio and book – far less than the price of my credit. And I could utilize my newly discovered Immersion reading!

When I shared my Whispersync excitement with Brenda, we decided it would be the perfect opportunity for Brenda to pen a Gal Tech explaining the complete simplicity the Kindle Fire HD offers. Immediately below this article, you’ll find Brenda talking in more detail about this newly improved process.

Amazon just released a new Kindle Fire HD that looks to be a sure fire hit as we move into the holiday season. With even more improvements, it sells for just $139.00. You can check out the features of the Kindle Fire HD 7″  here.

And for those of you who already own Kindle Fires, how do you know if this Immersion reading works on your model? It was featured first with the 2012 release of the 2nd generation Kindle Fire and the Kindle Fire HD and continues through this year’s new Fire releases.


Lea Hensley



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  1. Caz

    I probably wouldn’t make much use of the simultaneous listen/read function, but the ability to flip back “a few pages” in the audio is very attractive.

    Maybe one day we’ll get Whispersync here in the UK…

  2. Anne Flosnik

    What a terrific post Lea! Your experience is so helpful, and makes the points so succinctly, especially to a fellow non techie like myself. Thank you for writing this. I am sure it will be extremely helpful to many existing and potential reader/listeners. :-)

  3. Diana @ Tempting Reads

    I admit to a fondness for tech; so much so that I love to explore new devices and programs as soon as they’re available. However, I’m not sure how I missed the Kindle Immersion reading experience! I, too, am squeemish and sensitive to violent situations in books and will skip the audio (despite the many excellent reviews) because I’m not sure I could handle the graphic parts. Now I don’t have to worry about those parts. Call me excited! Can’t wait to try it; my Kindle Fire should arrive any day now. :D

  4. MelindaP

    A caution I have learned with the Kindle app on iPad – if you have already read the book on the Kindle app before starting the audio, the “last page read” is set, and you have to go back into the Amazon website, Manage your Kindle, and choose “clear furthest page read” from the Actions dropdown to the right of the title. I imagine it’s the same when using the Kindle device. I often read the book before I start an audio and this step was frustrating me!

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