Though AI-narrated audiobooks has its critics, another big voice has entered the market. Google Play Books has announced that publishers in six countries—the U.S., Canada, U.K., Spain, Australia, and New Zealand—can now create, edit, publish, and sell auto-narrated audiobooks on its platform.
Customers wishing to create an auto-narrated audiobook must provide an English- or Spanish- language .epub e-book file and additionally offer the e-book for sale on Google Play. Publishers will receive 52% of the revenue generated by an AI-narrated audiobook. Potential audiobook publishers on the platform must also assert that they own the audio rights to the title in the selected language and territories.
Publishers can choose from more than 35 narrator options, selecting for accent, age, and gender. Audiobook creators also have access to a suite of editing tools to fine-tune pronunciation and check and correct content. Once an auto-narrated title is complete and available for sale in the Google Play store, publishers can also download their auto-narrated audiobook and distribute it through other retailers as well.
For a limited time, the auto-narration audiobook creation capability is free as part of Google Play Books’ beta program. In an earlier publisher beta testing phase, a Google Play Books spokesperson said that a range of customers, including large publishers, university presses, small independents, and self-publishers, had experimented with the new feature.
Publishers of traditional audiobooks currently sell titles on Google Play Books’ global digital bookstore via distributors like Findaway and Bookwire. In the coming months Google Play Books will allow publishers to upload audiobooks directly to its platform and offer them for sale.
Judy Chang, group product manager for Google Play Books pointed to some of the reasons behind the drive to offer auto-narration capability. “For many publishers, audiobook production can be a major investment,” she said. “That’s why Google Play Books’ auto-narrated audiobooks are designed to help publishers create high-quality audiobooks easily and affordably. Publishers can also assess audiobook demand for their titles before making an investment in human narration.”