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Apple Books is now using AI to transform your library into audiobooks
Digital narration has come to Apple Books
➡️ The Shortcut Skinny: Apple Books AI
🤖 Apple Books now offers audiobooks narrated by AI
📖 The digital narration service has received a soft launch among romance and fiction titles
📉 Apple hopes it will reduce the financial barrier to creating audiobooks for independent publishers
🤔 But not everyone is convinced
Apple has rolled out a catalog of AI-narrated audiobooks on its e-book store, as the tech giant signals its move away from traditional narrators in favor of a cheaper, faster alternative.
The feature, which Apple is calling “digital narration”, is currently available only for selected fiction and romance titles, and comes in two AI voices – Jackson and Madison – that Apple says have been created and optimized specifically for those genres. Two more voices will be introduced in the future to narrate non-fiction and self-development books as the service is made more widely available.
To hear the AI narrators in action, listen to the brief samples on the Apple Books announcement page. To my ear, they’re eminently listenable, sounding clear and regular, albeit fairly flat and occasionally slipping into artificial inflections that are a little unnatural. To find AI-narrated audiobooks in the store, search for “AI narration” and listen to those titles described as being “narrated by Apple Books”.
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According to The Guardian, Apple had planned to launch the project last November but delayed it after Meta’s job cuts and Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter soured public perception of the tech industry.
Apple says it worked alongside publishers, authors and narrators to produce the automated narrations, and The Guardian reports the company offered to shoulder the production costs while allowing authors to keep the royalties of any audiobook sales.
Apple is framing the project as one that will particularly benefit smaller authors and independent publishers who can’t afford to have their works recorded by narrators. By reducing the “cost and complexity of [audiobook] production”, it hopes digital narration can make “the creation of audiobooks more accessible to all”.
But not all publishers are on board. “The narrator brings a whole new range of art in creating audiobooks, and we believe that’s a powerful thing,” David Caron, a co-producer at Canada’s largest audiobook publisher, told The Guardian. “They’re creating something that is different from the print book, but that adds value as an art form,”
Elsewhere in the tech world, Samsung is using artificial intelligence to stop you burning food in the oven. Truly, the future is now.