Apple Books puts AI narrators to work voicing select audiobooks

8 January 2023

Text-to-speech AIs have begun narrating select romance and fiction audiobooks available from Apple Books. Audiobook listeners electing an AI… entity (is that how I should refer to them?) to recite their title can choose between two digital voices, named Madison and Jackson. An additional two AI narrators, Helena and Mitchell, will soon be reading out non-fiction titles. Apple says the move will reduce costs, making it easier for independent authors and publishers to produce audiobooks:

The feature represents a big shift from the current audiobook model, which often involves authors narrating their own books in a process that can take weeks and cost thousands for a publisher. Digital narration has the potential to allow smaller publishers and authors to put out an audiobook at a much lower cost.

I don’t know what professional book narrators will think — though I can guess — but the move also makes sense for those authors who currently chose to narrate their own work. They can save several weeks of recording time, leaving them to focus on what they do best: write. While it could be said AI narrators were inevitable, that will be cold comfort for their human counterparts.

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