Updated: Feb 12
This petition requests that AI narrated audiobooks be labeled as such. This is a huge issue for the narrator community as our voices are being used without our consent.
Apple Books, Google Books, and other tech companies have started launching digital audiobook narration services, primarily to independent authors, with the pitch focused on the upfront cost-savings of employing their synthetic digital voices/production services instead of hiring costly ‘talent’ (AKA a human narrator) for their audiobooks. Savings that, to date, have not been mentioned anywhere as being passed on to the consumer.
Publisher’s Weekly, Oct 29, 2021: “Wouldn’t it be great if publishers could get rid of ‘the talent’ and reduce the long production cycles, push a button, and, presto, an instant audiobook, ready for sale?”
Concerned that their human narrator’s “engaging delivery” diverted focus from their written words, at least one author is already championing digital narration, while the overwhelming majority of authors deeply believe in the art form of having a professional narrator breathe life into their books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Andrew Liptak, 1/7/23: “An audiobook is not a recitation of an author's printed text: it's a performance in and of itself, and while you can replicate a voice, it's difficult – if not impossible – to replicate the performance.”
Tanya Eby, 1/6/23: “Let’s call it what it is. AI audiobooks are NOT audiobooks. They’re text-to-speech programs. An audiobook is performed by an actor (or many actors) who interprets the words of an author to create an experience that is layered with meaning and nuance.”
Additionally, several bestselling authors have taken to Twitter to express their thoughts:
Catherynne M. Valente @catvalente, 11/2/21: “Some companies are EXTREMELY eager to ‘disrupt’ what has become an incredibly lucrative audiobook market by getting rid of all working narrators & replacing them with a program. You can see the respect these companies have for actors in those sarcastiquotes around ‘the talent.’”
Travis Baldree @travisbaldree, 1/5/23: “AI narration is not going to ever be good in the way a human is.”
Dahlia Adler @MissDahlELama, 1/5/23: “No.”
Sign this petition today and lend professional audiobook narrators around the world YOUR voice, saying loud and clear that you want to keep humanity in storytelling and to have humans continue to breathe life into audiobooks for years and years to come.