An interesting article on the future of audio books, https://goodereader.com/blog/audiobooks/audiobooks-ai-and-humans-where-do-they-stand.
Will AI (artificial intelligence) replace human narrators as the technology grows ever more human-like? AI is much cheaper than employing a human narrator.
The author of the article speculates that books narrated by humans may become a more expensive niche market while the majority of audio titles are narrated by artificial intelligence.
As a registered blind reader, I listen to a large number of audio books, most of which are produced by audible.co.uk (a sister company of Amazon). All of these titles are narrated by humans. In addition, I listen to books on Amazon’s Kindle using the text to speech facility which relays the contents of a book audibly to the reader.
Whilst the news or other factual material usually works well when voiced by AI or screen reading software, poetry does not, nor does fiction.
Several of my books (“The Writer’s Pen” and “My Old Clock I Wind”) are available as downloads from audible.co.uk. Both titles are voiced by human narrators and I can not imagine AI being able to put the emotion into reading which good human narrators do.
Having written the above, if one becomes engrossed in a book read by an electronic voice (for example by text to speech on a Kindle) one can sometimes become so engrossed in the plot/storyline that it is possible to forget one is listening to an artificial voice.
In conclusion, I can’t see human narrators disappearing any time soon at least where poetry and other works requiring expressiveness are concerned.