Artificial intelligence to narrate books? The Apple Books catalog is growing thanks to voice technology

The audiobook market is booming. To expand the range of its catalog, Apple has recently resorted to artificial intelligence, which undoubtedly has allowed many authors who could not afford it due to the cost and complexity of production to create audio books. This is also the argument put forward by the company, knowing that the news would not fail to stir up controversy.

The global audiobook market size is expected to reach USD 35.05 billion by 2030 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 26.4% until then, according to a report by Research And Markets. In 2021, sales increased by 25% to a total of more than 1.5 billion dollars.

You might think that audiobooks are almost exclusively aimed at people who are blind or have low vision due to illness or old age. Indeed, they are adopted by an audience of all ages, their listeners are increasing, whether they are in transport, outside while playing sports or quietly at home, etc. The Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdowns have also put boost growth in this market.

Apple Books digital storytelling

According to Apple’s blog dedicated to this new feature in its book applications, “Apple Books digital storytelling combines advanced text-to-speech technology with the hard work of teams of linguists, quality control specialists and audio engineers to produce high-quality audiobooks from an e-book file. Apple has long been at the forefront of innovative voice technology and now adapted it for long-term reading, in collaboration with publishers, authors and storytellers.”.

For Apple, as the number of audiobook enthusiasts grows, it is unfortunate that millions of titles cannot be heard. Many authors, especially independent authors and those affiliated with small publishers, face the cost and duration of production (several weeks) when their book is narrated by actors.

The use of artificial intelligence makes this creation more accessible to them and allows them to meet this growing demand. Apple sees digital storytelling as a complement to professional storytelling and says it will continue to expand its catalog of human-narrated audiobooks.

digital voices

Four digital voices speaking in English have been created and optimized for specific genres. For now, Apple Books offers the voices of Madison, soprano, and Jackson, baritone, for both fiction and romance.

The storytelling program non-fiction and personal development is just beginning and will be available more widely in the future, with Helena’s soprano voice and Mitchell’s baritone voice.

Apple specifies that the publisher/author retains the rights to the audiobook and that there are no restrictions on the production and distribution of other versions of the audiobook.

The first books narrated by AI are already available, free or in paid form, in the Apple Books application with the mention “Narrated by Apple Books”.

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