TechCrunch Minute: Audible Introduces AI-narrated Audiobooks. Can it Replace the Human Touch?

AI is coming for audiobooks, and that is not an entirely bad thing. But it is a cause of concern in the realm of audio titles and the folks who make them today. Audible is making it easy for authors to generate AI-narrated audiobooks, and as in many cases of AI showing up in an established industry, there’s worry that the creative folks are going to get squeezed out by the robots.

The concern is valid. After all, shouldn’t the robots help us do more art, instead of doing the art for us? Isn’t that backwards.

On the other hand, it’s clear that not every book that is written can afford to hire a narrator, an editor, and a team to handle audio publishing. I suspect that the more commercially-viable titles are still going to work with the best narrators. After all, they can afford it. But the middle-tier of narrators and authors might find that AI is just so cheap for audiobook creation that it’s not financially reasonable to pay a human to do it.

In a sense, consumers will decide. If they shun AI-read titles, the market will adapt. But will they? We’ll have to wait and see.

That’s the demand side of the equation. The supply side is already sorted. There are tens of thousands of AI-read titles today on Audible. Let’s see what happens, hit play!