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 AlbanesePublishers Weekly senior writer.

Click below to listen to the latest episode of the Velocity of Content podcast

If Audiobooks Go AI

“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.


Author: Christopher Kenneally

Christopher Kenneally hosts CCC's Velocity of Content podcast series, which debuted in 2006 and is the longest continuously running podcast covering the publishing industry. As CCC's Senior Director, Marketing, he is responsible for organizing and hosting programs that address the business needs of all stakeholders in publishing and research. His reporting has appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, The Independent (London), WBUR-FM, NPR, and WGBH-TV.
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