Another area of preproduction interest is visual accessibility. Until fairly recently, creating a book that was accessible to the sight impaired was done with Braille, audiobooks, and large print editions.
With more recent advances, we in the publishing community can now build accessibility via technology into the regular workflow and therefore can bring our books to a wider audience with a modest impact on both production and costs.
Here again, EPUB is part of the solution, provided you have done your planning correctly. By starting your layout and production processes with accessibility in mind, you can more effectively and efficiently deliver e-books to an even broader audience. While estimates on the exact number of visually impaired Americans vary from study to study, a workable average number across those sources is seven million. These are e-book consumers who are basically unreachable without some accessibility technology. By preparing for potential accessibility output before you begin processing, you will open up this untapped market potential.
E-books, accessibility, and many other output options and potential reader markets can be open to you when you begin with the end in mind. Whether you handle your technical work internally, via outsourcing service providers, or some combination of both, you still need to think these things through on the front end.
This brief article only discusses a few of the most critical current outputs and options. No doubt, with each passing year (if it even takes that long), new formats, readers, and opportunities will surface. You will need to consider those as well. By training yourself and your organization to think with the end in mind now, you will be prepared for any and all future options.
As you look over your internal processes, workflows, and capabilities, consider whether your publishing house is in position to handle the challenges that are before you today. How would you answer this basic question? Is your company aware of and ready to successfully work through all of these options? If the answer is yes, you can count yourself among the very few publishing companies in the United States that is fully prepared to capitalize on all these opportunities.
If the answer is no, don’t panic. Find yourself some knowledgeable outside help and then set about learning what you need to learn and doing what you need to do so that you can change your answer to “yes.”
In summary, there are several different types of end points that you should consider before you begin your various workflow and production activities. Think it all through. Ask yourself the tough questions and get real answers.
From there, the rest is up to you.
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