When considering audiobooks, there are many aspects to consider: its hybrid format, its expansion and the fact that it is a growing subject. Indeed, it is no coincidence that this format is becoming more and more popular among readers. The use of voice to access stories and different content accelerates accessibility. For example, for people who cannot read or who prefer to listen rather than read.
Today we can see that in addition to its application in video games, subtitling is also being used for audio playback. This is why we have decided to explain why it is wise to choose subtitling for audiobooks, what issues and needs it meets.
The format of audiobooks
First of all, we will present the specificities of the audiobook format.
According to Audiolib.fr, an audiobook is the « read form, in one or more voices, of a work previously published in written form ». Often, the work is read by a professional actor or directly by its author in a professional studio. This means that audiobooks can only be made from the original work in its textual form. In addition, audiobooks requires a certain expertise in audiovisual production. In many Western countries – such as the United Kingdom, Germany, the United States or the Nordic countries – audiobooks has already experienced quick development and has conquered a large audience. In France, the emergence of audiobooks is more recent.
Thanks to the development of digital formats and medias – MP3, tablets, smartphones – access to reading is more dynamic and easier. Indeed, this makes it possible to « read » more easily. The reader of an audiobook enjoys new moments, a new experience, he rediscovers the original work. He can access these contents in transports, while travelling, while being quietly at home… Thanks to the magic of the voice, of the audio, the reader will be carried, will access different universes and emotions. He will be able to close his eyes and let himself be carried away by this voice. The chosen voice is therefore of paramount importance in the process of audiobooks!
The accessibility of audiobooks
In fact, thanks to the voice, audiobooks are accessible to many different uses and profiles. This responds to simple preferences – for example, preferring to listen rather than read – but also to real difficulties related to disabilities and illnesses. For example, being visually impaired, dyslexic, hyperactive…
In addition, comprehension for people who have hearing impairments or who are trying to learn a language through this channel is now made easier with subtitling of audiobooks.
The books thus become dynamic, and fully immerse the readers. Especially when sound noises are added!
Another idea is that audiobooks promote concentration. For the youngest as well as for the older generation. The brakes around reading are reduced on several levels. That’s why many platforms provide access to thousands of books in audio format.
Examples of platforms for accessing audiobooks
To help you access audiobooks, here are a few examples of sites where you can listen to or download them for free.
- Audi Literature
- Internet Archive
Audiocity is an online library created by volunteers, originally designed to meet the needs of visually impaired people. Novels, short stories, poems, there is something for all tastes and all ages.
Littérature Audi is another reference site. This site has over 8,000 free audiobooks. To find your way around, Littérature Audi offers a search engine. You can search by author’s name, by theme and by reader.
Librivox is an American site with audiobooks in many languages, especially in French.
Bibliboom is a site that offers more than 300 free audiobooks. This site was created by two lovers of literature who made many of the available recordings.
Internet Archive is an incredible free digital library. It hosts many audio files from other sites in this selection. It’s a real auditory gold mine, but not only. Indeed, you will find there other resources such as ebooks, newspapers, films, sound files.
Automatic transcription and subtitling for audiobooks
At Authôt, we are committed to promoting digital accessibility. We are specialists in « Speech to text » technology and subtitling. We offer an online application for automatic transcription and subtitling. And if you don’t have the time or desire to proofread your transcription, we have a proofreading service. We work with a hundred professionals – typists, editors and native translators – from the different languages on offer.
In addition to the automatic transcription of your texts for your audiobooks, we also provide a subtitling service – with synchronization, inlay and translation. As it is now possible to integrate subtitles into audiobooks using certain technologies, you would be wrong not to take advantage of the best of all formats for all your content!
Subtitles for an audiobook
Now that we have discussed several examples of applications and the major principles related to the specificities of the audio format, we will go into the heart of the matter and see what is at stake in the subtitling of audiobooks.
According to numerama.com, « 16% of French people will have already listened to an audiobook in 2019« . One of the leaders in the sector is Amazon’s Audible. The group wanted to innovate by offering Audible Captions, a service that generates subtitles for audiobooks. Except that several major American publishers have filed lawsuits against this technology. In fact, Audible Captions automatically transcribes, in text form, the sentences pronounced by the voice-over of the audiobook. This is based on AWS Transcribe, Amazon’s technology for voice recognition.
Between original text and embedded subtitles
Audible countered this complaint with the following argument: « Captions was developed because we want, like many teachers and parents, to help children who do not read much to become more engaged through listening ».
The functionality is therefore a support for listening to the book, with a pedagogical and accessibility objective. Indeed, Audible’s legal counter-argument is that when buying the book, it is not a copy of the text that is acquired, but an audio format. The reader can activate the transcription, if he or she chooses to do so. The text that appears on the screen is not the full text. Above all, it appears and disappears according to the voice-over – not the reading rhythm.
Finally, Audible has reached an agreement with the major publishers for its subtitling program, Captions. Audible can only subtitle the works of major publishers with permission. However, this prohibition does not apply to works that have fallen into the public domain.
This means that the revolution for subtitling audiobooks is well and truly legally established and underway.
We hope that this article has shown you why it is crucial today to focus on audiobooks and to choose subtitling for this format. If you are a media, a company or a publishing house interested in our expertise, please do not hesitate to contact us!
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