In a move that could spell the end for human narrators, Apple has revealed a selection of books using artificial intelligence-based narration. The move is an effort to disrupt the rapidly expanding audiobook business while deepening scrutiny of claims that Apple engages in anti-competitive behavior.
Since audiobooks have become so popular, technological companies are exploring the domain to have windfalls, especially when the audiobook market is likely to surpass US$35b by 2030.
Recently, Apple reached out to independent publishers, including those in the Canadian market, as potential partners to develop AI-voiced audiobooks. Authors were to sign a non-disclosure agreement to ensure the secrecy of the project at the time.
Many publishers and authors expressed that the project, if successful, could have a significant effect on the market, while many others were skeptical. David Caron, a renowned co-producer at Canada’s largest audiobook publisher, said, “They’re creating something that is different from the print book, but that adds value as an art form.”
Professional voice actors, however, have not taken Apple AI audiobooks positively as they see it hampers their financial incentive, both as writers and voice agents. On the other hand, if analyzed from a publisher’s point of view, a human-voice audiobook takes weeks and costs over a thousand dollars. AI has the potential to cut both time and costs significantly.