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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

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MKS July 18, 2019 um 3:09 pm

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

Josh July 18, 2019 um 4:52 pm

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?!?

Nate Hoffelder July 18, 2019 um 8:13 pm

putting the book in there would arguably be copyright infringement

MKS July 19, 2019 um 8:57 pm

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…

Patricia G Kurz July 19, 2019 um 11:29 am

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.

Lindsay July 20, 2019 um 2:04 pm

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.

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