Audible Launches Fix for SF, Fantasy Audiobooks

I have probably told you this once or twice, but one reason I don’t listen to audiobooks is the authors I like to read often use made up names that are almost unrecognizable when spoken aloud.

This is a common problem in fantasy and science fiction, and when listening to audiobooks it has often left me scratching my head and wondering what did I just hear.

Audible is working on a solution to my problem, and they plan to release it later this summer. The new feature is called Audible Captions, and it is basically what the title says: text captions for your audiobook.

Inspired by Audible’s work with students in Newark, New Jersey, Audible Captions are computer-generated text that replicates the spoken words of an audiobook.

Audible has developed a process that builds on the voice recognition work done for Amazon Alexa to convert what the narrator says into text. The voice you hear will continue to be that of the narrator, but now you can read along. You’ll have your choice of font sizes, and you can follow the narration line-by-line, word-by-word, or through progressive type (the text will appear as if someone is typing – like one of those bad hacking scenes in a movie).

“We know from years and years of work, that parents and educators, in particular, understand that an audio experience of well-composed words is really important in developing learners,” said Audible founder and CEO Don Katz, adding that the company never accepted “the rote inception of what reading is,” dating to its origins in the mid-1990s.

Audible Captions will be available on hundreds of thousands of audiobooks at launch,

USA Today

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. MKS18 July, 2019

    This would be great for learning to read a foreign language such as Mandarin. Plus, the listener can control the speed of narration.

  2. Josh18 July, 2019

    Wait a minute.. Someone spent money on a speech to text for someone reading every word from a book, when they could just put the book there to track with the narrator? Seriously?!?

    1. Nate Hoffelder18 July, 2019

      putting the book in there would arguably be copyright infringement

      1. MKS19 July, 2019

        Do ebook files have to be landmarked to synch up with the WhisperSynch function? That is, somebody has to listen to them? Vs using speech-to-text software to create a text file (which will have errors, if you’ve ever watched Closed Captioning on tv you’ll know what I mean.)

        Plus the reader/listener can keep the WhisperSynch enabled ebook, but probably can’t the closed-captioned audiobook text files.

        It’s going to be an interesting court case eventually…

  3. Patricia G Kurz19 July, 2019

    I get the Kindle version of the book if I need written refs, such as in foreign language titles
    Then I have text I can mark andI have it forever. Captions in the Audible program will increase file sizes and they’re gone when done listening. Amazon frequently discounts Audible costs if you get the Kindle first. It IS sort of like buying the title twice, but it’s unlikely to. be necessary for every audiobook.

  4. Lindsay20 July, 2019

    I predict you get a screen full of gobbledegook for those SF/F names if they’re really just using a transcription program to do the conversion. Someone is going to have to edit whatever their program spits out because it’s not going to be accurate. This seems like an overly complicated workaround to just paying X amount for the rights to use the original ebook and have the narration follow along.

  5. […] detractors complained after Audible launched Audible Captions last month, I asked myself how anyone could know that this feature infringed on copyrights when no one had […]

  6. […] that lawsuit from last August over Audible's new captioning feature, the feature that everyone is publishing was soooo absolutely certain was infringing on […]

  7. […] I have seen, from the very first announcement of Audible Captions, the value that users can get from this feature. Anyone who had difficulty understanding spoken […]

  8. […] announced in July 2019, Audible Captions is computer-generated text that replicates the spoken words of an […]

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