Voice Dream Reader was always about text-to-speech, so whenever I was asked to add audiobook support, my thought was, why would I do that? Audiobooks and text-to-speech are competing technologies. I need to stick with my specialty, particularly since Voice Dream Reader is widely considered the best text-to-speech app in the market.
Two months ago, an organization, Swiss Library for the Blind, Visually Impaired and Print Disabled, approached me and offered to underwrite the development of audiobook support. Specifically, support for DAISY 2.02 audiobooks. While I appreciated that someone would pay me to add a feature to my app, my first instinct was to politely decline. If I spend time building audiobook support, it means other features will get pushed out. My time is in limited supply.
But the offer made me think. How do I determine the boundaries for Voice Dream Reader? Then, it slowly dawned on me that my mission is not text-to-speech. My mission is to make it possible for everyone to read, and text-to-speech is one of the ways to make that happen. Recorded audio is another way to make text accessible. If I think about it that way, audiobook is very much inside the boundaries.
Swiss Library wanted me to add audiobook support so they can tell their members that there is one single reader for all their reading needs, and it supports all the content the library distributes. It’s about convenience and cost for their members. The more I thought about it, the more compelling it became. Why should someone use Voice Dream Reader to listen to one book using a synthesized voice, and have to buy and use another app to listen to another book with a human voice?
I started developing support for DAISY audiobooks late September. Today, it’s available in an update for all Voice Dream Reader customers.
I want to thank Swiss Library for the Blind, Visually Impaired and Print Disabled for their generous contribution which now benefits all Voice Dream customers, and for helping me affirm my mission.