Artificial intelligence to narrate books? Apple Books catalog grows thanks to voice technology
The audiobook market is booming. In order to expand the offer of its catalog, Apple recently resorted to artificial intelligence, undoubtedly enabling many authors who could not afford it due to the cost and complexity of production, to create audio books. This is also the company’s argument knowing that the news will surely cause 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%, totaling more than 1.5 billion USD.
One might think that audiobooks are almost exclusively aimed at people who are blind or visually impaired, as a result of illness or old age. They are actually being adopted by audiences of all ages, with more and more listeners whether in transit, outside while playing sports or quietly at home, etc. The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent restrictions have also fueled the growth of this market.
Apple Books digital storytelling
According to Apple’s blog dedicated to this new feature in the Books app, “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 has now adapted it for extended reading, working with publishers, authors and storytellers.”.
For Apple, as the number of audiobook enthusiasts grows, it’s unfortunate that millions of titles can’t be heard. Many authors, especially independent authors and those associated with small publishers, are faced with the cost and length of production (several weeks) when their book is narrated by actors.
Using 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.
Four English-speaking digital voices have been created and optimized for specific genres. Apple Books currently offers the voices of Madison, soprano, and Jackson, baritone, for both fiction and romance.
Storytelling program non-fiction and personal development has just begun and will be available more widely in the future, with Helen’s soprano voice and Mitchell’s baritone voice.
Apple states 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 note “Narrated by Apple Books”.