Speccing the Void: Adventures in the Audiobooks Abyss

MaRS Discovery District

Kobo audiobooks launched in 2017 and as a QA on the project with a passion for EPUB, my first question was, “So what is the spec for audiobooks, it’s like EPUB right?” Instead of being offered a link to a spec doc, I got shrugs. Later in 2017, I joined the W3C Publishing Working Group with the hopes we’d be discussing the matter of audiobooks, and in 2018 it was decided to create a task force to figure out audio formally. I jumped on the task immediately, and in the months since we’ve made a lot of developments in the space, but the true test is whether the industry will accept our best intentions.

In creating a spec where there isn’t one already the important thing to consider is whether or not your expected audience even wants it. On top of working with passionate ebook people on creating something that aligns with what the publishing industry uses already, we need to work with the industry we’re about to disrupt. We also have to consider the needs and expectations of users and user agents. There are more questions than answers.

This presentation will introduce everyone to the process of creating something where there wasn’t something before, and demoing what we have done so far.