Since adding the accessible DAISY format to our ebook bundles in late 2010, we’ve seen a slow but steady uptick in customers downloading and using these files. In looking at downloads month to month in 2012, we find that downloads are routinely into the high hundreds and often over the thousand mark (for more data on which formats O’Reilly customers are downloading, check out Joe’s post from earlier this year).
A thousand downloads a month may not seem significant, but that growing number potentially represents customers that we would not have reached had the DAISY format not been available. And because the accessibility features found in DAISY have been folded into EPUB 3, the growing number of DAISY file downloads argues for the digital publishing ecosystems–publishers and reading vendors alike–to move quickly toward EPUB 3, while making sure we understand and apply the new specifications around navigation, semantic markup, media overlays, and so on.
To get a handle on the specs, check out Matt Garrish’s practical (and free!) Accessible EPUB 3. In addition to providing a nice primer on the subject, Matt argues eloquently that, if you’re a publisher, accessibility is really about making your books more available to more readers, and reaching these readers will play a crucial role in the shift to digital:
Accessibility is not a feel-good consideration that can be deferred to republishers to fill in for you as you focus on print and quick-and-dirty ebooks, but a content imperative vital to your survival in the digital future.
In light of the increasing DAISY file downloads that we’re seeing, Matt might be onto something.