audio books

How to Turn e-Books into Audio Books

Audio books are a necessity for many people with aphasia, but audio books are also expensive to produce. In many cases, audio counterparts are not made for print books until months after publication release, and in some cases, not at all. Luckily, there are apps out there that can turn any word-based document — including e-books and PDFs — into audio book equivalents.

audio books

Start With Siri

Apple’s virtual assistant, Siri, is capable of reading any text aloud. To access Siri’s read-aloud capabilities, navigate to Settings > General > Accessibility. This is where you’ll find dozens of options you may not have known existed on your iPhone or iPad.

For instance, you can turn on options that allow you to do the following:

  • Highlight a selection, tap the Speak menu that pops up, and hear Siri read it aloud.
  • Open an e-book, drag two fingers from the top of the screen toward the bottom, and access a menu that will have Siri continuously read the book until she is told to stop.
  • Set the speed in which Siri reads.
  • Change Siri’s voice and accent.
  • Read aloud anything you type into your device.

Find Apps that Read Aloud

No Apple device? No problem — there are plenty of apps that will read aloud text from the screen. Search for text-to-speech apps in the device’s app store. Some examples:

Computer Resources

There are also resources for your computer if you want to turn your desktop into a spoken-word machine. Natural Reader also has a computer version that can be downloaded for Windows or Mac. You can try the free resource before downloading by pasting text into the box on the screen. After the software is downloaded, it can read PDFs and e-books, but it can also read web pages and emails.

What are your favourite text-to-speech tools?

Image: Michael Casey via Flickr via Creative Commons license



  • Herb Silverman
    April 27, 2017 at 9:13 am

    Thank you very much for a terrific idea on adoptions on audio devices.

    I would also like to look at another program called OverDrive, which is a free service to all libraries in the United States. There are thousands of different audiobooks available and all you have to do is sign up at your local library. Check it out!


    Herb Silverman

  • Michael Biel
    April 27, 2017 at 8:25 pm

    If you read Amazon Kindle books through your desktop computer, Snap & Read will turn the text into speech. It won’t work in the Kindle app but it will read Kindle books via Amazon’s CloudReader service. Snap & Read is a subscription service (about $4 per mo). You can find more info here:

    Amazon’s Kindle devices also have decent text to speech ability. On some of the newer Kindles (e.g. Kindle Fire), you can use what Amazon calls its Immersion Reading service which allows you to listen to an Audible audiobook version of the book while you read. It will even highlight the text as it’s being spoken.

  • Stanley Burke
    February 19, 2019 at 11:15 am

    Thank you for the review! You are right, it is very important, and I agree that audiobooks are very helpful and even necessary for many people with aphasia. But not all book have audio versions, unfortunately. I’d think of solutions with text-to-speech support.

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