Accessible Audiobook Production: General Recording Notes

This resource discusses some general technical guidelines that can be used when planning out audiobook production and post-production.

  • Subject(s):

    Audiobook Production

  • Resource Type(s):

    Standards and Best Practices

  • Audience:


Suggested Prerequisites

Before reading this, you might want to read:

Technical Choices for Audiobook Recording

There are almost endless variables and options when it comes to making technical choices for recordings. The recommendations in this document might be useful as a guideline for some publishers, but there is lots of room for developing your own in-house approaches. 

Audio Notes

Some of the following information may already be well known to your audiobook producer. Nevertheless, if you are just starting out, it may be helpful to know!

Specific Audio Requirements

These are the audio requirements that NNELS uses – some of these may be useful as a guideline:

A Note on File Size

Many commercial audiobooks are recorded at 320Kbps which is very high for a single vocal. We recommend 128-192Kbps for books with stereo effects, and 64-96 kbps for audio with no effects. This results in high quality audio with faster download times and smaller storage.

This is an important accessibility factor, as people that rely on audio for information may not have the storage for so much data, or the time/internet connections for long downloads. Keeping the file size low increases the accessibility of the file, without much compromise to the audio.

Next Steps


Guiding/Training Audiobook Narrators

Accessible Audiobook Production: Narration Guidelines

Good narration is a big part of creating a great audiobook. Make sure that narrators and/or your ebook producers know about these guidelines. They enhance both accessibility and overall quality!

Subject(s): Audiobook Production
Resource Type(s): Standards and Best Practices

Making Audiobooks for Children

Accessible Audiobook Production: Children’s Books

Illustrated children’s books present a unique challenge when it comes to recording audio. This resource discusses a few approaches you may consider.

Subject(s): Audiobook Production, Image Descriptions, Strategic Planning
Resource Type(s): Foundations and Rationale

Adding Metadata to Enhance Audiobook Accessibility

Introduction to Audiobook Metadata

This brief introduction discusses the metadata that can be included with audiobooks: a set of ID3 tags for each file, and an ONIX record. There is no specific accessibility metadata for audiobooks, but having robust…

Subject(s): Audiobook Production, Metadata
Resource Type(s): Foundations and Rationale

Embedding Data in MP3 Media Files

Introduction to ID3 Tags in Audiobooks

ID3 tags are fields that you can fill out to add metadata to an audiobook. They were designed with music in mind, so some of the field names (Artist, Composer, etc.) don’t always correspond. This…

Subject(s): Audiobook Production, Metadata
Resource Type(s): Checklist

External Links to More Information

Audiobooks: W3C Recommendation

This specification from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) offers a format to mark up audiobooks, which primarily involves marking up the heading structure but does also allow for including related text content. As of this writing in late 2021 it does not have a great deal of support yet by reading systems.

Content Source Acknowledgement

Accessible Audiobook Recommendations for Publishers