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Thread: Rediscovered talking books

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Melbourne, FL USA

    Rediscovered talking books

    Listening to quality talking books from your home PC or how to load the android OS on your desktop.

    Does anyone use talking books at the Library of Congress? Do not like their machines or listening to the books on a smart phone, want to play them on my computer and control them with my trackball.

    To do this on my machine running Windows 7 with an android OS ( giving me the ability to run any APK software on my home computer, including Bard (download from the NLS) talking books software.

    Just sign up for talking books from the national Library service, sign up for Bard, load android OS onto your computer and then install the talking book APK. Then look up any book at the library you want to listen to, listening to "The Bourne Ascendancy" now. If you have any problems configuring it, let me know and will try and help.

    National Library Service (NLS) is a free braille and talking book library service for people with temporary or permanent low vision, blindness, or a physical disability that prevents them from reading or holding the printed page. Through a national network of cooperating libraries, NLS circulates books and magazines in braille or audio formats, delivered by postage-free mail or instantly downloadable.

  2. #2
    This is definitely very different from talking books, and doesn't fit the needs of some people, but I thought I'd mention anyway, I've enjoyed the Kindle audible books sometimes. It's an audiobook that syncs to your Kindle. I listen on an iPad. Many books aren't available in this format at all, however. It would require more vision to use than a talking book however.

  3. #3
    What’s the difference between a talking book and an audiobook?

  4. #4
    The Library of Congress National Library Service for the Blind and Physical Handicapped (ie, Talking Books) program has been around for a long time...before the internet they had books on vinyl records and then cassette tapes. It was started in 1931 for people with blindness, and expanded to other disabilities in 1961. Due to copyright issues, these are available only to qualified people with disabilities, initially the blind only, not to the general public. It includes books, newspapers, magazines, music scores, etc. in both audio and eBraille formats. It also includes their own playback device which is provided for free to users:

    Audiobooks are commercially produced, usually for sale or rent (not for free) although some public libraries provide them for free "rental" to their card owners. iTunes has a number of audiobooks. Some of the companies started out as books-on-tape (cassettes) years ago. Audible is probably the best known, which started as a on-line company and was bought out by Amazon several years ago.

    I download Audible books to my MP3 player to listen to in the car (I don't have a smart phone). You can download to tablets, some e-readers, and of course to laptop or desktop computers as well.

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  5. #5
    Senior Member ChesBay's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Coastal Virginia
    Our local library has a good selection of audiobooks. I go to the library’s site on line and check them out there. One of the side effects of long term SCI which I attribute to arthritis and central nerve pain, I do miss “getting lost in a good book”. Sitting or lying in one place too long no longer makes this an enjoyable activity on a regular basis. Audiobooks fill a gap.

    I usually listen on an iPad.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by funklab View Post
    What?s the difference between a talking book and an audiobook?
    There are many different/incompatible mechanisms for presenting text in a non-print format.

    An "audio book" is usually little more than a recording of someone (often the book's author!) reading the book to you.

    A Digital Talking Book is a structured document that lets the "reader" peruse the volume as a sighted person would -- able to note the spelling of each word, chapter/section breaks, etc. A DTB can also include multimedia content (visual/audible) beyond the "text" accessible based on the capabilities of your particular "player".

    Audiobooks, being just "audio recordings", can essentially be "copied" just by recording the audio. You could also record the audio from a DTB player -- but, you'd lose most of the added-value (document structure, multimedia capabilities) that the DTB format provides.

    In the US, Copyright holders implicitly grant the NLS the ability to reproduce their copyrighted works for "impaired users". As this offers an avenue by which their rights can be subverted (e.g., pirated copies), the DTB provides an encryption mechanism by which legitimate users can be allowed access to the media while "counterfeit users" can be denied that access.

    (Note that there was little demand for pirates to counterfeit braille volumes -- also produced by the NLS through a series of volunteer braille transcribers and other agencies under contract to the NLS! FWIW, the braille transcribing course was essentially free to any who wanted to enroll; but, a significant commitment is required -- braille is really hard to transcribe :< )

    Before choosing a technology, you should carefully explore the range of offerings compatible with that technology. Pay particular attention to how current the offerings are (e.g., braille editions of new releases used to have considerable waiting lists as braille is hard to economically reproduce and distribute). For example, can you get a copy of today's issue of your hometown newspaper?

    You might opt for picking a technology that fits the availability of the media you want to consume instead of the other way around!

    (FWIW, the NLS's "devices" have always tended to be clumsy, regardless of technology!)

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by ChesBay View Post
    Audiobooks fill a gap.
    The advantage of audiobooks is that there is a larger market (sighted AND visually impaired consumers). So, more titles -- and more current titles -- tend to find their way into this medium. And, the media gets cheaper to reproduce.

    The downside is that there are more consumers vying for these titles! Many (sighted) users will listen to an audiobook while driving to work, etc.

    For physical media, any copy that is in use is unusable by another patron. One can understand that a library may want to limit the number of such copies that it has on hand due to budget constraints.

    But, I am at a loss as to why electronic copies are similarly limited. I can understand that the author wants to be compensated based on how many copies are sold/purchased (and, ultimately, READ). So, why not have an infinite number of copies available and just pay the author/vendor based on "usage"/readership? Do you really care if 5 people each took one copy for two weeks over a span of 10 weeks -- vs. 5 people taking 5 copies over the span of TWO weeks? (or ten??)


  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Columbus Indiana
    I love audio books. I listen to a couple a week. I used to use Audible, but at $14.95 a book it was unaffordable. My local library has an app that allows me to download audio books directly to my phone or tablet. It had a decent supply. Then I discovered that I could buy a statewide access pass, which allows me to get a library card, and download titles, from any library in the state.

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