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I enjoy having the ebooks read out loud. My previous solution has always been to highlight the chapters I want to read and then turn on voiceover in Adobe Reader on my Mac. The advantage is that I can select from all sorts of voices and control the pitch and speed. The disadvantage is that it sometimes takes quite a bit of time to highlight things and subtitles and page numbers often get read out as well, interrupting my reading.

I just tried iBooks and although .epub files read marvellously, it doesn't read .pdf files.

Is there any software that is available that can read ebooks out loud, preferably one that works for pdf files and lets me control pitch and speed? I would like to have books read aloud to me on my (google) tablet, especially as most of the books I'm reading are textbooks and don't have audiobook versions.

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    Keep in mind not all PDF works have a text layer that is readable, for instance scanned image of printed page is just a picture. Also some security choices that a PDF creator make have the potential to prohibit accessing the text. – James Jenkins Apr 4 '14 at 10:45
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There are several screen readers available, these are high end products used by totally blind and visually impaired user to operator a computer. JAWS is preferred by all the blind computer users I know. According to this there is a version designed specifically for tablets.

Be aware, the creators of PDF documents, often do so without consideration for screen readers. PDF is used to create fixed format document for the a sighted reader to look at. Even if there is text for a screen reader to read it is often difficult for a screen reader to translate it in to a helpful format.

If the PDF file is actually a scanned image of a printed page, Jaws will not be able to read it. There is software called OCR that is able to "read" pictures of words and convert them to a text layer that JAWS, or MS word, etc can consume.

Lastly if the PDF is laid out with lots of columns, boxes, images, cute little conversation bubbles, etc, it will be extremely difficult for any program to translated it into something meaningful to you.

Calibre has an option that will convert PDF to most ebook formats, there is a listing here of some of the issue you may encounter.

  • FYI - I use the native text to speech application in my kindle keyboard, with a jack connected to my car radio for reading during my daily commute. Turn it on before I pull out and it runs non-stop until until I hit the pause button (space bar). – James Jenkins Apr 4 '14 at 16:53
  • Hey, from first hand experience I can tell you that this "most" blind users is extremely relative. Sadly, most Jaws users use it because it is cheaper than others, and more sadly, because crack for it exists. So a lot of copies of Jaws around are illegally used. NVDA will, I hope, soon become stable and serious enough that nothing of this will be necessary. Also, reading eBook with a screen reader for enjoyment is near death experience. :D You have to scroll down line by line, or use some method like OP did, but eventually the reading will stop at the end of window or selection. – Dalen Aug 20 '15 at 0:08
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I recomend FBReader for opening the files with FBReader PDF and TTS+ Plugin. There are other applications you can use especially if you are willing to pay.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.geometerplus.zlibrary.ui.android

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.geometerplus.fbreader.plugin.pdf

https://play.google.com/storeapps/details?id=com.hyperionics.fbreader.plugin.tts_plus

These enable you to open almost any format. I read aloud pdfs, epubs, even files from my kindle on my mobile phone.

For Voice engines you can use the default from google. Still I fell in love with the voices from my kindle. So I use IVONA text to speech with both UK (Amy) and US (Kendra) voices. These are made by an amazon subsidiary and are the best voices I've seen by far. And you can choose the accent.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ivona.tts

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ivona.tts.voicebeta.eng.usa.kendra

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ivona.tts.voicebeta.eng.gbr.amy

All this software is available for free in Google Play.

This solution is cheap and easy to try in any Android phone/tablet. Allows you to set pitch, reading pacing etc. Avoid reading the page number on the PDFs will be hard to do! since this is just text on the file and it will read all the text on the pdf file.

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I would recommend looking for solutions that integrate both the text and natural narration. I personally can never listen to an artificially generated voice for more than a couple of minutes. True, you will not be able to use it on your own texts, but there is an increasing number of books that have this capability (thanks to the new functionality that epub3 standard brings)

On Kindle devices you can do it for some titles (see this article for a nice description: http://www.wonderoftech.com/immersion-reading-kindle)

On Ipad and Android you can go for books from sinkronigo.com or digisyncbooks.com, still not many books available, but very promising.

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I'm using TextAloud (about $30) which is a kind of text editor requiring external voices. With a combination of AT&T real human voices to me this a perfect solution, especially when transforming text to mp3 file and listening to on any mobile device.

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@Voice Aloud Reader Android app in Google Play app store. Reads most PDFs, ePub, web pages with relevant content extraction, text and DOC files and many more. See https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.hyperionics.avar

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There is Bookish now:

http://sciencepower.org/Bookish/

It is still in pampers, but it works! Excellently on Mac!

Version 1.2 is now out and it solves this problem along with most problems in out loud TTS book reading. A lot of them are mentioned here as well.

Bookish is completely free. It includes few very good online TTS engines like Voice RSS and Google TTS. So you don't have to buy good sounding voices for Windows.

I am sorry that this reader still cannot be classified as good, so I only partially answered your question.

But it's purpose is fulfilled as it performs basic tasks of reading out loud EPUB, MOBI, PDF, doc, docx, ..., and doing some more things.

1.2 also denumerizes lines if you wish, so page numerations can be removed.

I also apologize for answering by recommending my own product. My intention is to share it with you so that we all can benefit from my passion for audiobooks and learning new languages, which was big enough to make me write a reader, because I wasn't happy with any existing before.

If you decide to give it a try, you'll believe me when I say that THIS IS NOT AN ADVERTISEMENT!

Someone would stumble over it anyway and people will start to use it, once it's completely stable. That is why I don't feel very guilty when posting this.

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But when I started to look for an app that supports reading aloud, it was hard to find a suitable one. I used Talk FREE app. But the application reads by syllables after the update.

After that, I found the article Top 16 Best Text To Speech Apps For Android And iOS. So I switched to FullReader as it’s the best of 16 best text to speech apps by the author opinion. The benefits of the app are supports many format files and languages.

See yourself: FullReader - Android Apps on Google Play

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Try Infinity Reader from Google Play The reader supports Text-to-speech, audio, video, scripts and all EPUB3 features. The reader comes with a free book, which contains youtube video. You can download a lot of free books from the reader.

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