In an October 2021 article for Publishers Weekly as well as in a January 2022 podcast interview for CCC’s Velocity of Content, publishing consultant Thad McIlroy explored the possibility that narration by machine – using artificial intelligence algorithms and computer-generated voices – would soon arrive in the audiobook market.
As publishers increasingly rely on digital audio for revenue and profit, any move toward AI narration has voice actors not surprisingly very concerned.
“As Emily Lawrence, Professional Audiobook Narrator’s Association co-founder, points out, there is an entire ecosystem of people who rely on audiobooks for their livelihood,” notes Andrew Albanese, Publishers Weekly senior writer.
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“People who direct audiobooks, people who edit audiobooks, people who check audiobook narration for word-for-word perfection against the manuscript would be impacted. And in this age of deep fakes, there are ethical issues too,” Albanese tells CCC.
“AI narration has come a long way fast from the days of robot-like, disembodied voices. Already, in some cases, you can’t even tell the difference,” he adds.