DIGITAL TALKING BOOKS – LIFE AFTER THE CD
445, Rue du Parc Industriel
The navigable digital talking book in DAISY format is now widely produced and distributed on CD’s by many libraries for the blind, when played on a compatible DAISY CD player, the DAISY book provides high fidelity audio and the ability to navigate by chapter, section, and page.
the distribution of CD based digital books still follows the previous paradigm
of cassette talking books where distribution is done through the mail using the
free postal service available in many countries. The presentation will describe
how libraries are looking to the future where books can be distributed through
the Internet. To facilitate such future distribution the libraries are
beginning to build sophisticated digital repositories that will contain the
books on large servers rather than on shelf-based media. The presentation will
describe the advantages of such a distribution system both from the aspect of
lower operating costs for the library as well as the user advantage of the
‘always available’ title from the virtual bookshelf. Already, some libraries
with repositories are burning CD’s on demand based on a known member’s profile
of preferred genres or from direct requests of their customer service
is a logical next step to bypass this process of CD production, packaging, and
mailing to simply deliver the book electronically to the member’s Internet
enabled DAISY player. The presentation will discuss the challenges for the
player manufacturers to build digital talking book players that are capable of
receiving, storing, and playing the books. These players will need to negotiate
high bandwidth Internet downloads as recorded digital books are typically very
large. The players will need onboard flash memory to store the books, and they
will need to provide the equivalent playback functionality of current DAISY CD
new players will be very compact like a PDA. They will have a choice of simple
or complex user interfaces. As the majority of the talking book library members
are elderly or otherwise not experienced with the Internet or the concept of
downloading, the player will need to connect to the library, download, and
store the book without any user intervention. For more technically aware
members the player will need to support a catalogue browse and search feature
to allow those members to interact directly with their library repository for
their reading choices.
availability of high bandwidth Internet service will need to be considered.
Libraries may approach their government to subsidize the cost of this service
based on anticipated savings from the removal of free postal delivery of CD’s.
Clearly, the future holds much promise for the audio book reader and offers access to more content, faster, and with more playback flexibility than was ever imagined just a few years ago. We will soon not imagine but actually experience a digital talking book player that fits in the palm of our hand, connects without wires to an Internet modem in our home, automatically connects to our library and downloads our book automatically. Instead of looking in our mailbox we will only need to turn on our player, press the Bookshelf button, and listen to which book will have been just received. All of this will be possible without the expense or technical knowledge needed to purchase and operate a PC. The presentation will allow time for the audience to discuss and offer feedback on their preferred functionalities for these new flash based, Internet capable digital talking book players.