Apple has added a new feature to Apple Books that lets independent writers and publishers to have their written books converted into an audio form using artificial intelligence (AI) voice synthesis models.
The first AI-narrated books are now available for download on the Apple Books Store and have the label ‘Narrated by Apple Books.’ This initial rollout is available only for specific genres, each accompanied by a particular AI voice.
Fiction and romance books are narrated by ‘Madison’ and ‘Jackson’, while non-fiction and self-development books are narrated by ‘Helena’ and ‘Mitchell’. Although the audio quality is still not quite at the level of human narration, it is very convincing and has even higher fidelity than the real-time machine learning synthesized voice used for Siri.
The process of converting a book into an AI-narrated audiobook is not automatic, and Apple estimates it can take up to a month for a submitted book to be made available in audio form. The company is reportedly manually reviewing the generated AI tracks for quality assurance before publishing, at least in the early stages.
The conversion into an AI-narrated audiobook is completely optional, and the author must own the rights to produce an audiobook version. For now, the sourcebook must also be written in English. However, if an Apple Books AI-narrated version is created, authors are allowed to produce a human-narrated version later and can freely generate other audiobook versions with other distributors.