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Apple Books launches AI-narrated audiobooks initiative

Jan 5 2023

Apple has announced a new initiative to expand the number of audiobooks available on its store, inviting independent writers and larger publishers to have their written books converted into audio form using artificial intelligence (AI) voice synthesis models. The move is aimed at increasing the accessibility of books for those who prefer to listen to them, as well as providing an alternative option for authors who may not have the resources to pay for traditional audiobook production.

The first AI-narrated books are now available to download in the Apple Books Store, with specific genres of book accompanied by a particular AI voice. Fiction and romance books are narrated by "Madison" and "Jackson," while non-fiction and self-development genre books are narrated by "Helena" and "Mitchell." Other genres of book like science fiction or thrillers are not currently supported. In the Apple Books app, AI audiobooks are tagged with a "Narrated by Apple Books" subtitle.

Although the audio quality of the AI-generated voices is not quite at the level of human narrators, they are still very convincing and even higher fidelity than the quality of the realtime machine learning synthesized voice used for Siri. You can hear samples of what these AI voices sound like on the Apple Books website.

The transformation into an AI-narrated audiobook is done on a wholly opt-in basis. The author must own the rights to produce an audiobook version, and (for now) the source book must be written in the English language. If an Apple Books AI narrated version is created, authors are allowed to produce a human-narrated version later, and can freely generate other audiobook versions with other distributors.

[Dall-E 2 Image from Prompt: a photo-realistic image of a person listening to an audio book while sitting in a modern chair facing a window overlooking a park in a sunlit modern room with at least one wall visible that has a framed depiction of the famous Apple Computer Logo]

While generation of the audiobook is not an automatic process, Apple says it can take about a month for a submitted book to be made available in synthesized form. It seems that Apple and its partners are manually reviewing the generated AI tracks for quality assurance before publishing, at least in the early stages of the initiative.

AI narration is a particularly appealing proposition to small independent writers who do not have the capital to pay for human talent and the associated recording process required for classical human book narration. It offers a cost-effective way for these authors to make their work more widely available in audiobook form. It remains to be seen how well the AI-narrated audiobooks will be received by listeners, but it is certainly an interesting development in the world of audiobooks and digital publishing.

[Artilce Generated with AI: chatGPT]


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