Editor’s Note: This post has been updated since the instructions in the original version no longer work with the latest versions of iOS. This new method is simpler to use and more powerful. Enjoy!
In the evenings, Charles Spurgeon’s wife would sit on a cushion at his feet and read to him. So far, I have been unsuccessful in persuading my wife to do the same for me, but I think I may have found an alternative solution. I now listen to Kindle books on the iPhone.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could squeeze in a few more chapters of your Kindle book while driving, exercising, or doing housework? Well, you can! In this post, I am going to show you how to listen to Kindle books on the iPhone.
Certainly, audiobooks fill the need for hands-free reading to a degree.
Between Audible and Christian Audio a decent offering of Christian books can be found. But Kindle’s selection is much larger. And if you follow Tim Challies‘ blog (which you should), you likely have a prodigious selection of Kindle books you bought on sale for $2.99 but have never read. Plus, most new books release straight to Kindle at the same time the paperback comes out, but the audiobook version (if it ever does come) arrives much later to the publishing party.
Tragically, even in this era of e-books, we are still stuck reading most books with our eyes. Who will deliver us from this ocular tyranny?
Enter: Amazon Alexa.
It’s a little-known feature that any Amazon Echo device can read your Kindle books aloud to you, even if you don’t own the corresponding audiobook (this works with any Kindle book that supports text-to-speech technology).
And the really cool thing is, you don’t need to have an Amazon Echo device to take advantage of this feature. All you need is the free Alexa app. Here’s how you do it.
Step #1: Download and log in to the Amazon Alexa app
- Go to your device’s app store (works on iOS and Android). Search “Alexa”, and download the free app.
- Open the app and log in to the Amazon account where you have your Kindle books.
Step #2: Press the blue Alexa button and say, “Alexa, play the Kindle book, [title]”
For example, “Alexa play the Kindle book, ‘The Imperfect Disciple'”
Alexa will then begin reading the book at whatever point you last left off.
This also highlights another feature of this method—you can read books in a hybrid manner—you can listen on your phone or echo device while doing chores, exercising, or driving and at other times you can read them like normal on your Kindle device. Amazon takes care of remembering where you left off no matter how you consume the book.
Step #3: Pause, play, and control speed with voice commands
In addition to playing the Kindle titles, there are a few other voice commands you’ll want to be aware of. These are taken from Amazon’s help center article on this feature.
- “[Pause / Stop / Resume].”
- “[Skip ahead / Skip back].”
- “Volume [1-10].”
- “Open my Kindle books.”
- “Show me my Kindle books.”
For some reason they don’t include this in the list of commands, but you can also say “play slower” or “play faster” and Alexa will step up or down the speed of reading by 1/4 increments.
Step #4: Listen to Kindle books without using your voice
Sometimes when you’re out in public you don’t want to have to use the voice commands. It can be embarrassing to shout at your phone while you’re on the treadmill at the gym. Thankfully, most of the Kindle reading functions are available through touch controls as well.
To manually select a Kindle book to play aloud, in the Alexa app just go to the “Play” menu at the bottom of the screen and scroll down to “Kindle Library”.
Here you can browse books available for listening through the Alexa app. Just tap on the title you want and select the device you want it to play on—for your phone just select “this device”.
Note: I did notice that all of my eligible Kindle books did not appear on this screen. For those, I was still able to get them to play using the voice commands.
Now You Can Listen to Kindle Books on iPhone!
Congratulations! Your eyes are now free. Use your new powers wisely.
Bonus: Free Month of Kindle Unlimited
Also, if you find yourself reading (or now listening) to a lot of Kindle books, consider taking advantage of a free month of Kindle Unlimited where you can get access to over a million Kindle titles.