Alexa Read Books

Alexa, the brain behind Amazon's Echo devices, has evolved far beyond its initial role as a simple voice-activated assistant. From setting reminders to playing music, Alexa has become a versatile companion. The question arises: is Alexa capable of reading books?

Can Alexa Read Books?

Yes, Alexa has a text-to-speech (TTS) feature that allows it to read books aloud. This functionality opens up a new dimension for book enthusiasts, providing an alternative way to consume literature. However, the process involves more than just converting text to speech.

Alexa's Book Reading Capabilities

Alexa is the popular virtual voice assistant created by Amazon and used on devices like the Amazon Echo. One of the many capabilities of Alexa is reading books, articles, and other content aloud. Alexa has integrated access to major audiobook sellers like Audible and can also read Kindle ebooks you have purchased from Amazon.

In addition to prerecorded audio content, Alexa's speech synthesis allows it to read aloud words on a page as if it were narrating a book. This hands-free convenience makes Alexa useful for multitasking or assisting the visually impaired. However, the experience differs from reading yourself.

This article explores Alexa's book-reading abilities in more detail. We’ll cover the specific reading features Alexa offers, evaluate Alexa's abilities as a reading companion, and discuss relevant privacy considerations to be aware of.

Can Alexa Read Audible Books?

Audible, owned by Amazon, provides perhaps the most robust book listening experience via Alexa. If you connect your Audible account to Alexa, you can ask it to play any of the audiobooks in your Audible library.

You can browse your library by author, title, genre, or recent listens. You can also purchase and manage your Audible subscriptions entirely via voice commands. Alexa allows you to seamlessly listen across multiple devices, picking up at the last listening spot when switching.

Using Alexa in the Audible App

To use Alexa from the Audible app you will need to enable a feature called Hands-free with Alexa.

  1. Open the Audible app go to your profile and click on the Settings icon

  2. Select Alexa from the list and then toggle the Hands-free with Alexa setting

  3. Agree to the terms and allow access to the microphone

  4. Now, whilst you have the Audible app open simply say "Alexa"

Listening to Audible Books from an Alexa Echo Device

There are many voice commands available to request Alexa to read or play content from Audible, here are some examples:

Read a specific book: "Alexa, read [book name] from Audible"

Read from your last book listened to: "Alexa, read my book"

Get a recommendation: "Alexa, recommend me a book"

Change speed: "Alexa, read faster" or "Alexa, read slower"

Discovering content

"Alexa, what is free from Audible?"

"Alexa, list my Audible books"

Listen to Podcasts: "Alexa, play [podcast name] from Audible"

Can Alexa Read Kindle Books?

If you own a Kindle e-reader, you likely purchase your ebooks via Amazon. Similar to Audible, you can connect your entire Kindle library to Alexa and ask it to read any of your purchased Kindle books aloud.

You can even switch back and forth between your Kindle device and Alexa for continuous reading. This allows you to follow along on the page when possible but still access the book when a screen isn’t available.

Can Alexa Read Google Play Audiobooks?

No, unfortunately, Alexa cannot access your Google Play Books library and read them to you. A workaround to this limitation is for you to connect your phone via Bluetooth to an Amazon Echo device and listen that way.

Reading Sidekick

Designed specifically for young readers, Reading Sidekick allows kids to take turns reading print books aloud with Alexa. Kids read a page aloud, and then Alexa reads the next page. This helps teach and reinforce reading comprehension.

Alexa provides constructive feedback and encouragement. Over time, kids are expected to read more pages as their skills improve. Parents can review asynchronous reading session summaries for each child too.

Voiceview Screen Reader

Voiceview is Alexa’s integrated screen reader aimed at providing audible access to on-device content for those who have difficulty seeing screens. It reads aloud elements displayed on the screen like Alexa’s home screen menus.

This enables blind and visually impaired users to access Alexa’s capabilities independently when an Echo device with a screen is paired with an audio-only device like an Echo Dot.

Flash Briefing

Flash Briefing allows you to catch up on news highlights, weather reports, and other customizable content from various sources. Within Flash Briefing you can enable audio digests from sources like The Washington Post, Harvard Business Review, and even Audible Books.

These audio digests provide abridged, narrated versions of books, research, and articles. It’s a convenient way to absorb key book takeaways without having to digest entire books. You can find additional custom skills that read summarized newsletters, blog content, or podcast transcripts too.

Reading Experience with Alexa

Alexa leverages advanced speech synthesis technology to power its book-reading abilities. Here’s an overview of what the experience itself is like and some of the benefits and limitations.

Natural Voice

Alexa utilizes Amazon’s own Neural Text-to-Speech (NTTS) technology to translate text into realistic speech patterns. The voice sounds smoother and more lifelike compared to earlier robotic-sounding speech engines.

The system is designed to pronounce challenging words correctly and infuse appropriate cadence and emotion into its reading like a human narrator. However, quality can vary across reading sources and scenarios.

Hands-Free Convenience

One major advantage Alexa provides over reading yourself is the ability to consume books hands-free.

Alexa reads books aloud on-demand, freeing your eyes and hands for other tasks. You can continue reading while cooking, exercising, commuting, or anytime it’s inconvenient to reference a text.

The hands-free access Alexa facilitates also makes it invaluable for those with visual impairments. It removes the accessibility barriers inherent in reading on a screen or physical book pages.

Interactive Features

Reading with Alexa entails more than just passive listening - features allow interactivity similar to controlling an audiobook playback. You can direct Alexa to pause reading, skip forward or backward, jump to specific chapters, speed up or slow down Alexa’s speaking pace, and more using just your voice.

So if you get interrupted or zone out, you can backtrack to catch anything missed. You also aren't locked into a single pace, adjusting it higher or lower to suit your attention level.


Despite innovations in speech synthesis, Alexa isn’t capable of providing an identical reading experience compared to reading text yourself. The biggest limitation is access - only a subset of books have professionally narrated Audible versions, Kindle ebook versions with enabled Text-to-Speech, or digest summaries available on Flash Briefing skills.

There are also comprehension challenges inherent in listening versus reading. Following complex stories or non-fiction books via audio alone tends to be more difficult and less immersive. So Alexa may excel more at news or short-form content rather than novels.

Privacy Considerations with Alexa Reading

While Alexa’s book-reading capabilities provide substantial convenience, these voice interactions do entail privacy tradeoffs which are helpful to understand.

Recording of Voice Commands

To process voice commands, Alexa devices actively listen and record conversations within hearing proximity. Amazon retains recordings of these interactions, including Alexa reading requests, in the cloud until manually deleted.

Amazon leverages these recordings to improve Alexa’s speech recognition and AI capabilities. However, privacy advocates argue this persistent monitoring represents a risk many consumers overlook.

Sharing of Personal Data

Connecting third-party services like Audible and Kindle also grants those platforms access to your account data and reading activity. Amazon may share data like reading requests, library access, and listening habits across business units to personalize recommendations or target advertising.

While Amazon provides options to limit data sharing, disabling personalization also reduces functionality. Understanding these potential tradeoffs allows you to make informed privacy decisions when enabling skills.

Ability to Delete Recordings

Within Alexa’s settings, users can view, hear, search, and manually delete individual recordings Amazon has stored in the cloud. You can also turn off storing recordings altogether, although this may degrade Alexa’s responsiveness.

Reviewing and pruning recordings you feel are overly sensitive is an important practice. Though it doesn’t eliminate privacy concerns, it allows greater user control.


In conclusion, Alexa can read books and incorporates a variety of methods for reading written content aloud, such as speech, books, articles, and more. Integrations with major audio platforms like Audible and Kindle provide robust hands-free audiobook libraries. AI speech advancements also enable Alexa to narrate text naturally.

Alexa’s book-reading abilities offer substantial multitasking convenience and accessibility for the visually impaired. However, potential privacy implications exist due to Amazon’s recording of interactions for product improvement. Understanding and managing these tradeoffs allows you to leverage Alexa’s hands-free reading perks while maintaining personal control over data.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can Alexa read any book?

No, Alexa cannot read every published book. It's limited to books available in supported audiobook libraries, Kindle books with text-to-speech enabled, those with summary articles available via Flash Briefing skills, or custom content read via Alexa skills. So availability will vary by title.

How does Alexa know what words to say when reading a book?

Alexa translates written text into speech via a technology called speech synthesis. Complex machine learning algorithms train Alexa's speech engine to mimic human patterns of pronunciation, cadence, and inflection to sound natural.

Is listening to Alexa read books the same as reading myself?

No. While Alexa strives to narrate content expressively, the experience differs from traditional reading. Comprehension may be lower for some without visual reinforcement of words. Imagination and immersion levels also tend to be higher when reading silently. But Alexa provides more multi-tasking flexibility.

What personal data does Amazon collect when I use Alexa's reading skills?

When you connect Audible, Kindle, or other skills, Amazon records associated library and listening activity. This data, including reading requests and titles accessed, is linked to your Amazon account profile to infer interests and patterns for advertising or recommendations.

What third-party skills allow Alexa to read custom content aloud?

Skills like "Voice Reader" and "Cepstral" enable Alexa to read your own uploaded documents like PDFs, Word files, emails, and more. There are also text-to-speech skills focused on newsletters, RSS feeds, web articles, and other customized sources. Enable skills to further expand reading options.

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