Friday, January 6, 2023
Apple says digital narration for Apple Books will make it cheaper, and therefore more accessible to produce audiobooks. Voice actors and audiobook publishers may disagree.
Apple has quietly launched a new "digital narration" feature for Apple Books that uses artificial intelligence to read audiobooks.
The function, according to Appl, reduces the cost of producing an audiobook, and therefore makes the process more accessible.
"Apple Books digital narration brings together advanced speech synthesis technology with important work by teams of linguists, quality control specialists, and audio engineers to produce high-quality audiobooks from an ebook file," Apple says on its authors page.
As The Guardian notes, you can find these titles on Apple Books by searching for "AI narration." The publisher description will say: "This is an Apple Books audiobook narrated by a digital voice based on a human narrator."
Digital voices are created and optimized for different genres. Madison, for example, is a soprano narrating Loving From Afar by romance writer Mona Ingram, while baritone Jackson reads Alex Lyttle's fiction title From Ant to Eagle. Apple is also experimenting with nonfiction and self-development, with plans for wider availability in the future.
"Digitally narrated titles are a valuable complement to professionally narrated audiobooks, and will help bring audio to as many books and as many people as possible," Apple says.
The current model involves authors or, more often, voice actors recording books—a process that can take weeks and cost publishers thousands of dollars. Digital narration, meanwhile, makes it more economically feasible for small publishing houses and independent writers to enter the audiobook market, Apple says. Audiobook publishers and voice actors may disagree, of course.
Interested authors can sign up to work with Draft2Digital or Ingram CoreSource ; it can take up to two months to process a tome and complete quality checks, after which the audiobook will be ready for publishing in the Apple Books e-store.
All AI-performed works must include the phrase "This is an Apple Books audiobook narrated by a digital voice based on a human narrator" in their descriptions.
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