Apple Creates AI-Narrated Audiobook Catalog For Authors, Publishers

Apple has quietly launched a catalog of books narrated by (AI) artificial intelligence in a move that could replace human narrators. The platform enables authors to publish an audiobook through Apple Books with digital narration.

I love audio books. I have bought dozens. They allow me to hear the story as intended by the author. And I can multitask -- while doing something like walking or riding a bike. But I always consider the narrator’s voice before making the purchase. 

The audiobook market has seen growing popularity, with sales last year rising 25% and generating more than $1.5 billion. Some believe the global market could surpass more than $35 billion by 2030.



Apple approached independent publishers as potential partners -- including some in the Canadian market -- but not all agreed to participate, according to one report.

Authors were told that the unknown company behind the technology would carry the costs of production, and that writers would receive royalties from sales. Apple is the company behind the technology. Publishers were required to sign non-disclosure agreements.

“The narrator brings a whole new range of art in creating the audiobook, and we believe that’s a powerful thing,” David Caron, a co-producer at a large Canadian audiobook publisher, told The Guardian. “They’re creating something that is different from the print book, but that adds value as an art form.”

Amazon, which owns audiobook company Audible, had previously indicated it was exploring AI narration technology. Google has been the most public through Google Play Books.

Google promotes creating existing ebooks to audiobooks in just a few steps. The company offers auto-narrated audiobooks in English, Spanish, French, and German.

Google today does not charge a fee for someone to create, publish and download any audiobook already created.

Publishers also can sell auto-narrated audiobooks on any retail platform that allows them. After publishing the auto-narrated audiobook on Google Play Books, the publisher can download the audio files. But if the author chooses to sell the auto-narrated audiobook somewhere else, he/she must also sell the book on Google Play Books.

Through Google, when the auto-narrated audiobooks are sold, publishers will receive a 52% revenue share.

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