The Publishing Working Group has published a First Public Working Draft of Audiobook Profile for Web Publications. This profile, derived from the structure laid out in the Web Publications specification, has been developed to address a major gap in the publishing ecosystem. Unlike the ebooks industry which predominantly uses the EPUB standard, Audiobooks never developed a common specification. This has created a distribution model where content creators create many different files for their distributors or retailers, leaving users behind.
Our profile is focused on bringing a common, single manifest format to the industry. The manifest centers on providing a simple way for content creators to include identifying metadata, a reading order, and additional resources. Identifying metadata includes information like title, author, narrator, identifier, and duration. The reading order is designed to provide user agents with a single source of truth on the presentation order of the audio files, should no other user input occur. The resources section of the manifest is reserved for any additional files that are important to the content but are not part of the reading order. This can include a cover image, supplemental content like images or data, the table of contents, and synchronized media files. We hope that this specification will bring common ground to the industry, as well as pave the way for a standard way of including supplemental content, tables of contents, and accessibility in the format. We look forward to the publication of the first draft, and any feedback it will bring. Please offer your input on GitHub.