Apple has a slew of new audiobooks to offer which are different in that they have all been narrated by AI voice artists and not real human narrators. The move will no doubt add fuel to the already raging debate of whether its real voice narrators or artificial Ai voice that would prevail over the other, though what is amply clear is that it is the lucrative audiobook segment that Apple is eyeing in the meantime. Apple described such audiobooks as being “narrated by digital voice based on a human narrator”. Using search terms like ‘AI narration’ in the Apple Books app will bring up such audiobooks.
As The Guardian reported, Apple reached out to several publishers with the offer to create audiobooks the cost for which would be borne by Apple itself. The writers too would be paid their due royalties from the sale of the audiobooks. The offer was made via one of Apple’s shadow companies to keep its identity a secret while publishers too were made to sign non-disclosure agreements later on.
The move is being considered significant as this is the first time that the Cupertino giant has opted to rely on artificial voice for publishing audiobooks. No wonder, many are also seeing this as the beginning of the end of the trend where real humans would narrate an audiobook. It had earlier released audiobooks for free during Christmas in 2018 when real human celebrities had lent their voice to publish the audiobooks.
The lure to opt for AI voice artists is also too great to let go of. First and foremost, they make for a lot more cost-effective means of publishing an audiobook. Besides coming across as a cheaper alternative, artificial voice also allows for publishing an audiobook far more quickly than the weeks or even months that it usually takes to publish an audiobook using real human voice artists.
On the flip side, artificial AI voice narrators can never match the human touch that only real human voice artists can bring along. The ability to lend emotion to the text portions or that occasional pause can bring alive the audiobook to the listener. It’s like a skilled painter drawing the various scenes and events in the virtual canvas of the listener’s mind. In contrast, the artificial voice would simply roll over the portions of the text without having any idea of what those portions actually referred to.
As David Caron, one of the co-producers at Canada’s largest audiobook publisher stated: “The narrator brings a whole new range of art in creating an audiobook, and we believe that’s a powerful thing. They’re creating something that is different from the print book, but that adds value as an art form.”
Nonetheless, the time and cost benefit that artificial voice brings along can far outweigh all that real human voice narration can bring along. Also, Apple opting to use artificial voice for publishing audiobooks is no doubt a huge development, one that can have a significant impact on the market as a whole. If the program succeeds, this can lead to a considerable shift in preference towards using AI voice for publishing audiobooks in the future. Human voice artists might find the going tough in such a scenario. It will be interesting to see how things pan out from here onward.
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. Besides writing, I like watching videos, reading, listening to music, or experimenting with different recipes. The motion picture is another aspect that interests me a lot, and I'll likely make a film sometime in the future.