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Recorded Books and
On this page:
The following is only a partial list. Please contact
the Low Vision Center directly for help finding other resources.
Large Print Materials
About Large Print Books
Large print books and magazines have larger than normal print to
make them easier for visually impaired people to read.
Large print may also be called "large type" or "large font."
Among librarians "Large Print" is defined as print that is at least
16 points in size. However, in designing a large print edition,
the publisher may adjust other characteristics besides just the size
of the type in order to make the book easier to read. The color,
contrast, and shininess of the ink and paper, the style of type face,
the spacing between letters and between lines, the margins, and the
physical size of the book itself can all affect readability.
Many publishers mass-produce large print editions of the same books
they print in other editions. There are also print-on-demand services,
which print individual books as they are purchased. A mass-produced
large print book has the type size selected by the publisher. With
a print-on-demand service, you can often choose the type size at the time
you buy the book.
Electronic book (E-book) reading devices such as
usually let you choose the font size at the time you read
the e-book. So any e-book you've bought can be a large print book.
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About Audio Books
An audio book, also known as a recorded book, is a sound recording of
someone reading the book out loud. Depending on the source of the
audio book, it might be read by a professional voice actor or by a talented
volunteer. It is also possible to create audio books with synthetic
speech (having a computer translate the book's text to speech).
A commercial audio book may be published by the same publisher that
produced the paper edition, or by a publisher that specializes in audio
books. You can buy commercial audio books from booksellers
or borrow them from your public library. Commercial audio books are available
on audio tape cassettes or compact disks and can be played on the same
player you use for your music tapes or CDs. You can also buy electronic
audio books which you then download
from the Internet and play on your
computer or smart phone
or on a stand-alone audio book player.
Talking Books are produced by the National Library Service (NLS) of the
Library of Congress and are loaned by participating public libraries in
each state. Besides fiction and
non-fiction books, many periodicals are
also available as Talking Books.
To comply with copyright law, only people who cannot
make normal use of printed books can borrow Talking Books, and only a special
playback device can play them. The special players produced by NLS are loaned by
the participating libraries, you may purchase a commercially produced Talking Book
player which may have different features from the standard NLS
player, or free apps are available to
let your Apple or Android smart phone
function as a Talking book player.
Older Talking Books were recorded on audio tape
cassettes in a special format. In 2008, NLS began introducing
Digital Talking Books on flash memory cartridges; recent
Talking books are available only in this format. Talking Books
are borrowed and returned by postage-free mail, and Digital Talking Books
can also be downloaded through the Internet.
Digital audio books
compatible with the NLS Digital Talking Book player
are also produced by SHELF, a cooperative effort of eight state
libraries to make over 2300 locally produced audio books available to all
their eligible patrons. Marylanders who participate in the Talking
Book program can log on to their account at
and select "Maryland SHELF" from the menu at the left to see a list
of what's available. For more information, contact the
Maryland State Library for the Blind
and Physically Handicapped.
Some e-book reading devices have built-in
text-to-speech capability, allowing you
in effect to convert an e-book into an
audio book with synthesized speech.
Note, though, that publishers can decide
whether individual books can be read in
this way. Before you buy an e-book
intending to listen to it, check that
the book is coded to allow text to speech.
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Local Public LIbraries
Besides special collections of large print books and other
material for the blind and visually impaired,
local public libraries have recorded
books and large print books in their regular
collections. Check your nearest branch library to
find what is available there. Local public library
systems also provide a variety of other accomodations for those
with low vision. Hand-held magnifiers, for use in
the library, may be available
at the information desk. Some locations have CCTV systems,
document scanners, or
text-to-speech machines, and many have computers equiped with
screen magnification or screen reading software.
Rockville Memorial Library (Montgomery County)
21 Maryland Ave., Suite 100
Rockville, MD 20850
Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (LBPH)
415 Park Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21201-3603
Also located at LBPH is the Maryland
Accessible Textbook Program, which helps
students get the textbooks they need in
Prince George's County Memorial Library System
6532 Adelphi Road
Hyattsville, MD 20782
Martin Luther King Memorial Library (District of Columbia)
C. Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
Room 215 (2nd Floor)
901 G Street, NW
Access Service Library (Fairfax County)
12000 Government Center
Fairfax, VA 22035-0012
Arlington County Library
1015 N. Quincy St.
Arlington, VA 22201
Alexandria Public Library
5005 Duke St.
Alexandria, VA 22304-2903
Loudoun County Library Outreach Services
380 Old Waterford Rd.
Leesburg, VA 20176
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Other Free Services
The National Library Service for the Blind
and Physically Handicapped provides its Talking Books service through
public libraries in each state. In maryland, this service
is provided through the
Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.
You can call the number listed above for your
local library system or visit the NLS web site
to learn how to sign up for Talking Books.
National Library Service for the Blind
and Physically Handicapped (NLS)
The Library of Congress
Washington, DC 20542
Besides books, many periodicals are also available in audio from NLS.
American Heritage, Money, National Geographic,
People, and Sports Illustrated are just a few
of the magazines available through the Talking Book service.
The BARD Talk web site, while
not officially connected with NLS, is a good source of information
about the Digital Talking Book service which NLS provides.
Besides the many periodicals available directly from NLS, the
American Printing House for the Blind
produces audio versions of Reader's Digest and Newsweek
which are free to Talking Book subscribers. For more information, see
Printing House for the Blind and Dolly Parton's
Imagination Library Partnership provides free
age-appropriate print/Braille and downloadable
audio books to visually impaired young children.
Magazine Listening is an audio anthology of unabridged
articles selected from about 100 different magazines. Available
to NLS Talking Book subscribers, each
quarterly issue contains about 12 hours of articles.
You can download the current issue from the
BARD web site
(nlsbard.loc.gov) or you can subscribe to Choice Magazine
Listening on physical media at the
The Metropolitan Washington Ear reads The Washington Post as well as selections
from the Wall Street Journal and some magazines via the telephone, radio, and Internet
everyday. To sign up for this free service, contact:
The Metropolitan Washington Ear
35 University Blvd East
Silver Spring, MD 20901
Another free newspaper reading service is NFB-Newsline. It
uses synthesized (computer-generated) speech to read The Washington Post
and over 50 other national and local newspapers by telephone. Anyone
eligible for the
NLS Talking Book service also qualifies for
NFB-Newsline. To sign up, contact the library from which
you receive NLS services, or call:
National Federation of the Blind
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore MD 21230
The Project Gutenberg site
on the Internet (www.gutenberg.org)
has a limited number of free, public domain
audio books available for free download to your
computer. Project Gutenberg also has a vast library of free,
public domain books in plain text format; if your computer has
text-to-speech capability, you can download a book from Project
Gutenberg and have your computer read it to you.
The LibriVox.org web site has
a collection of public-domain classics read by human volunteers,
stored in audio files, and available for free download
to your computer.
web site provides a searchable database of free
and paid audio books and e-books available for download
from the Internet, including those from
Project Gutenberg and
Books are available for
both desktop and mobile devices.
Audiobooks web site has a collection
of around 50 books and stories read by human volunteers.
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Services with a Fee
formerly called Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, creates and
distributes audio books, especially textbooks, to its members.
If you qualify for NLS Talking book service, you also qualify for
Learning Ally membership.
5225 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, Suite 312
Washington, DC 20015
in Argentina, provides blind and visually handicapped people
Spanish-language audio books for download on the Internet.
Registration is free, but a semi-annual donation is requested.)
an Internet dealer in used audio books. The web site includes
some interesting musing by the proprieter on audio books
and the business of buying and selling them.
(sells audio and video materials for education and self-improvement. Their web site
also includes resources
such as a list
of audio book rental services.)
1322 2nd Street, Suite 32
Santa Monica, CA 90401-1138
The web site of
AudioFile magazine provides
reviews and other information about
commercially published audio books.
Harvard Business Review on Tape
provides books for download from the Internet.
Depending on the book, it may be
available in various text, audio, and/or
Digital Braille formats. Some public-domain works
are freely available; other works require a subscription.
Subscriptions are free for U. S. students;
for others there is a fee.
A student using an iPad can consider using
the Spotlight Gateway
app for accessing Book Share.
Reading Network of Maryland broadcasts a full time program read from
newspapers and magazines. A special radio receiver is needed, for which
there is an annual rental fee.
Large Print allows on-line purchase of recently
published large print books, some at a modest
discount from list price.
Most bookstores, public libraries, and Internet bookstores also have large print and audio books.
Some magazines and newspapers can be found in large print, too.
PO Box 262
Mount Morris, IL 61054
(For audio and Braille versions of Reader's Digest, see the
Printing House for the Blind.)
New York Times Large Type Weekly
229 West 43rd Street
New York, NY 10036
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Here are some of the companies that publish large print and/or audio
books. Their products can be purchased from local book stores,
mail-order and Internet catalog companies, or directly from the publisher.
This is not a complete list of publishers. LVC does
not endorse or recommend any specific publisher.
Recorded Books, LLC
(publishes, rents, and sells audio books; publishes and sells large
270 Skipjack Road
Prince Frederick, MD 20678
Books on Tape (division of Random House)
(publishes and sells audio books)
400 Hahn Road
Westminster, MD 21157
Audio Book Contractors
(publishes and sells unabridged classic books as audio)
PO Box 96
Riverdale MD 20738-0096
(publishes and sells audio books)
PO Box 6930
Auburn CA 95604-6930
(publishes and sells audio books)
PO Box 969
Ashland, Oregon 97520
Read How You Want
(publishes and sells large print books on demand, sells downloadable
Braille books and Daisy audio books using synthesized speech)
Reader's Digest Large Type
(publishes large print abridged books)
44 South Broadway
White Plains NY 10601
Simon and Schuster
(publishes some audio books, usually abridged)
Large Print Books. The web site
sells only to public libraries, but includes
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