In a post today in the Kindle Direct Publishing community forum, the self-publishing giant announced that it has begun a beta test on technology allowing KDP authors to produce audiobook versions of their e-books using virtual voice narration. The ability to create an audiobook using synthetic speech technology is likely to result in a boom in the number of audiobooks produced by KDP authors. According to an Amazon spokesperson, currently only 4% of titles self-published through KDP have an audiobook available.

Under the new initiative, authors can choose one of their eligible e-books already on the KDP platform, then sample voices, preview the work, and customize the audiobook. After publication, audiobooks will be live within 72 hours, and will distributed wherever Audible titles are sold. Prices can be set between $3.99 and $14.99 and authors will receive a 40% royalty. All audiobooks created by virtual voice, the post says, will be clearly labeled and, as with any audiobook, customers can listen to samples.

“We are excited to introduce a new option for customers and authors,” said Amazon spokesperson Lindsay Hamilton. “Virtual voice gives authors more choices to create audiobooks and will deliver greater selection to customers.”

The new virtual voice option complements Audible’s existing Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX), which matches audio rightsholders (authors, agents, publishers) with audio producers (narrators and studio professionals). KDP said that it plans to grow the virtual voice beta test over time, and will share updates in the coming months.