Skip down to the second heading if you just want to know how to hide these without my commentary.
I’m a huge fan of audio books. I know other blind people hate audio books but I just imagine them as people that haven’t found their audio book crushes yet. I’m joking. Most blind people prefer to read a book with digital Braille instead of audio, and that’s okay. In fact, this is a good reason why authors should showcase their DRM Free resources like I do. I found something that’s more annoying than DRM, though. I’m kidding. DRM is the worst thing to ever happen to the publishing industry. Still, this is just as pointless.
I was browsing Audible today and I stumbled upon a narrator that was, well, text to speech, or if you’re a tech hype believer, AI. Out of curiosity, I clicked on this text to speech narrator, currently called Virtual Voice, and was immediately disappointed in independent authors because there was more than 10,000 books with text to speech narration. No, I’m not linking to it because you deserve better audiobooks.
Before this year, Audible had a firm stance against text to speech narration. They didn’t allow independent authors to use text to speech narration, but when the AI bubble bloomed in the early 2020s, everything had to be AI, and this included audiobook narration, because it wasn’t innovative to have human narrators record an amazing performance anymore. I don’t understand the logic, but there you go.
When I saw this, I immediately wanted to hide all text to speech narration from Audible search results. At the time I write this, these text to speech narrations haven’t hit library audiobooks yet. I hope it stays that way for a very long time, but eventually, these will make their way to libraries, so I wanted a way to hide all text to speech narration on audiobooks.
I finally found this handy adblock filter that hides all text to speech narration on Audible. I haven’t tested this with the other adblockers out there, but this custom filter should work for most ad blockers.
The reason why I’m hiding these, even though I use a screen reader on my computer to read DRM free eBooks, which is achieving the same result, is because I can control my screen reader. I can change pitch. I can change voice. I can change synthesizers. I can change how it pronounces words. I can change how it says formatting elements. These text to speech pre recorded narrations don’t give me that level of freedom. The only thing I can change is the speed and the pitch or tone.
Another reason is listening to these gives me a very strong Uncanny Valley feel to them that I don’t have when I’m using my screen reader. Plus, I like fan made adaptations of works and enjoy listening to Podfics because I like listening to how different fans interpret work. This is also why I enjoy fan made audio dramas too.
I’m an author as well. I know that recording audiobooks can be expensive, depending on your chosen narrator, but I’d encourage you to experiment with Creative Commons licenses and let your fans make audio adaptations of the work as an alternative.
With my commentary out of the way, here’s how to block all AI voices on Audible.
Steps to block text to speech narration on Audible.
- Get an adblocker. I use uBlock Origin.
- Install your adblocker of choice onto your favorite browser.
- Open your filters for the adblocker. here’s information about uBlock Origins filters.
- Add the below as a custom filter. Hit save, then restart your browser.
The filter to add is,
Obviously, if Audible changes their designation from Virtual Voice to something else, replace the above text with whatever they changed it with.
That’s it! That’s all! I hope this helps other audiobook fans like me avoid these kinds of narrations.