Apple Books Adds AI Narration to Some Audiobooks

AI voices like Madison and Jackson are "based on a human narrator."

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Stack of books with headphones on top.

Audiobooks are getting some new AI narrators from Apple Books.

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Apple Books is adding artificial intelligence narrators to some audiobooks, pitching the move as a cheaper, more accessible option for small or indie publishers to adapt their titles to audio formats. So far, the digital book store has developed four distinct voices for romance and fiction books, as well as nonfiction and self development.

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Searching "AI narration" in Apple Books returns a list of books with the narrator listed as Apple Books. Most of the books are fiction or romance and narrated by voices "created and optimized" for the genre: Madison, a soprano, and Jackson, a baritone. Apple will next focus on nonfiction and self-development books, which will be narrated by Helena (soprano) and Mitchell (baritone).

Authors selling their ebook through Apple Books can apply to create an AI-generated audio version of their book as long as they own the audiobook rights and the book is romance or fiction and in English. Accepted fiction categories are currently limited to literary, historical, and women's fiction, while science fiction, mysteries and thrillers will be supported soon, according to the posted guidelines.

By contrast, Amazon-owned audiobook giant Audible requires audiobooks be narrated by a human.

Despite the familiar names, it remains to be seen what effect the experiment in AI narration will have on the lucrative audiobook industry and whether customers will respond to the AI voices differently than to human narrators. You can get a taste of the voices at Apple Books' website for publishers.