Digital publishing company Bookwire said it has entered into a partnership with Google Play Books that will allow users to create auto-narrated audiobooks using Google’s text-to-speech technology, The Bookseller reported. Bookwire said such auto-narrated audiobooks will comply with its WAY audiobook service platform. The publishing firm will also provide quality assurance to such audiobooks along with everything else needed in the production process. Such auto-narrated audiobooks will then be distributed via the company’s own distribution platform. Google Play Books currently offers text-to-speech software that supports the production of auto-narrated audiobooks in English, Spanish, German, French, and Brazilian Portuguese languages.
Solveij Krause, team lead for business development audio at Bookwire, said: “We are happy that in co-operation with the leading technology company Google we can add another provider to our text-to-speech service who offers audiobook production with advanced AI in multiple languages. Bookwire wants to give publishers even more diverse opportunities to participate in the growing audio market with the additional TTS [text-to-speech] offer.”
The above assumes significance as Apple too had recently announced the launch of its own auto-narrated audiobook production service. This has led to widespread speculation that this will mark the beginning of the end of the trend when real humans would serve as narrators and would form the central entity in the entire audiobook production process. Bookwire however has stated the use of AI-generated voice should not be seen as a replacement for real human voice artists but one that adds to Bookwire’s audiobook production facilities.
“Publishers can freely choose with WAY whether their audiobook should be produced with a human speaker or an artificial voice,” Bookwire explained. “In terms of accessibility and backlist, text-to-speech offers a rapid and cost-effective way for publishers to tap the full potential of their catalogs and make their titles available for everyone.”
That said, the success, or otherwise, of the AI speech synthesis programs can play a key role in determining the future of human voice artists. While AI voice can lead to the production of audiobooks quickly and easily and at fewer costs, the use of voice artists can make it a costly and time-consuming affair but adds that crucial human touch to the production process.
With a keen interest in tech, I make it a point to keep myself updated on the latest developments in technology and gadgets. That includes smartphones or tablet devices but stretches to even AI and self-driven automobiles, the latter being my latest fad.