You can now access audiobooks that are narrated via a text to speech AI. Apple’s Books service in a potentially significant move for the multi-billion dollar audiobook industry. Apple This is the description of the new “digital narration” Feature on its website Making “the creation of audiobooks more accessible to all,” By reducing “the cost and complexity” Producing them for authors or publishers. 

This feature is a major shift in the audiobook model. Currently, authors are required to narrate their books themselves. It can take several weeks and could cost thousands of dollars for publishers. A digital narration feature could allow authors and smaller publishers to produce audiobooks for a lower price.

On digitally narrated narrations, a notice is displayed audiobooks.
Screenshot taken by Jon Porter/The Verge

Apple’s website says the feature is initially only available for romance and fiction books, where it lists two available digital voices: Madison and Jackson. Helena, Mitchell and two additional voices are available for books that do not contain fiction. At the moment, this service is only offered in English. Apple It is peculiarly precise about which genres its digital narrators may be able to handle. “Primary category must be romance or fiction (literary, historical, and women’s fiction are eligible; mysteries and thrillers, and science fiction and fantasy are not currently supported),” Its website is.

Search for “AI narration” The Books app, you’ll find a series of romance novels with a small notice saying they’re “Narrated by Apple Books.” The name and type of artificial narrator listed in the document. 

“This is an Apple Books audiobook narrated by a digital voice based on a human narrator,” reads each audiobook listing that uses the company’s digital narration service. Listings can include both free and paid listings audiobooks, and the artificial voices sound about as good as you’d expect — perfectly intelligible, but with an unmistakably artificial edge that lacks the warmth of a human storyteller. This will probably improve as AI voice technology evolves.

According to The GuardianThe first person to notice the feature was. Apple had intended to launch it in November, but delayed its release because Elon Musk’s chaotic acquisition of Twitter and layoffs at Meta were dominating news headlines at the time. Apple The author reportedly approached independent publishers in an attempt to have their book narrated. She offered to cover the production cost and pay authors royalties.

Apple’s website says that publishers and authors retain audiobook rights, and can put out other versions of the audiobook if they choose.

Apple’s approach to digital narration is the opposite of competitor Amazon’s, whose Audible rules explicitly state that submitted audiobooks “must be narrated by a human.” It was notable that its Kindles had a text to speech feature. However, this function has been discontinued. discontinued a decade ago after copyright concerns were raised. at least one AI-narrated audiobook has appeared on Amazon’s service in the past, according to this report from WiredAfter being reported, it was removed.