DAISY-books without a CD?

NLB held a meeting on 17 June 2009 about distribution of DAISY books online. DAISY player retailers, NAV, content producers and others attended the meeting. I was also there, and you can see below a little of what was discussed there.

Story by: Morten Tollefsen - 17.06.2009


On the Web site for the DAISY Consortium you can read:
DAISY Consortium Members and Friends have long felt that online delivery is the clear future for fulfilling the reading needs of blind and print-disabled users. Several organizations and companies have conducted pilot projects to explore the feasibility of DAISY content online delivery.
The consortium believes that DAISY-books will be distributed online in the future. The specification describes the distribution of audio books using Internet technology.

DAISY-online was one of the issues discussed at the Consortium meeting in Seoul. The standard has been delayed. The most important contributors have been RNIB and Vision Australia. In Spring 2009 there was a need for revision and others wanted to give their opinion. The Consortium's working group will meet in Toronto in July and the specification will be adopted by the Consortium in September.

There may be variations in implementation in different countries and specification work is important to ensure that players from different manufacturers can be used.

Test solutions are in operation with new players in England and Australia. A number of smaller projects have been carried out in Sweden and Finland. Streaming / downloading is easier now than before and there is a much greater understanding of the challenges relating to distribution solutions of this type.

A little about distribution and rights

In Norway the Norwegian Audio and Braille library (NLB) has a new contract from June 2008. This Agreement applies to all reading disabled (visually impaired, physically disabled, dyslectics, ...). There are no requirements for the distribution method except that a watermark will be used for online distribution.


I don't know what NLB are thinking in detail about online distribution of books. Nevertheless, I think it is very positive, exciting and useful that NLB is working on requirements for an online distribution system. A tender will be published during the autumn. The goal is that online distribution will come into operation in 2010.

It is not currently clear how the distribution will be implemented. This will depend on standardization work in the DAISY-consortium, financial constraints and other requirements.

Training and ease of use are key focus areas

NLB and KABB (Christian organization for the visually impaired) have many older users. But NLB can also see a generation change in the use of "my portfolio".

The training of users is important both in existing and future systems. Responsibility for training in the use of tools is a first line service (municipality, school, ...). Some participants at the meeting pointed out that this training does not work very well at present.

The solution for online-distribution must be easy to use. To ensure this, a content provider group should be created (if this is not handled by the Norwegian-DAISY Consortium).

What do I think?

  • Online-distribution will make some users more independent, for example those who have trouble getting the CDs out of the envelope and out / in of the player.
  • The solution must be simple to use. When the player is connected to the Internet books should be synchronized automatically. A solution requiring little technical expertise is of course important for older users. But I believe this is almost as important for technologists! Reading and borrowing books should be easy and not require you to insert the URL, or select from enormous menu structures.
  • Online-distribution is also interesting because  books can be made available very quickly.  If you want to read a book, or there is a document you need, you can order this at NLB and it will available straight away. NLB does provide material quickly but the postal system can be a major source of irritation if you need something quickly.
  • Automatic synchronization allows for a really simple user interface for DAISY players, and there is certainly a great need for this!

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