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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.
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 http://webopac.klas.com/talkingbooks/md 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.
Rockville Memorial Library (Montgomery County)
Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (LBPH)
Prince George's County Memorial Library System
Martin Luther King Memorial Library (District of Columbia)
Access Service Library (Fairfax County)
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)
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 http://www.aph.org/development/magazines/.
The American 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.
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:
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. Free audiobooks are also available through literalsystems.org and audiobooksforfree.com.
The Librophile.com 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 LibriVox. Books are available for both desktop and mobile devices.
Learning Ally, 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.
The web site of AudioFile magazine provides reviews and other information about commercially published audio books.
Harvard Business Review on Tape
Book Share 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. www.bookshare.org. 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.
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.
New York Times Large Type Weekly
This is not a complete list of publishers. LVC does not endorse or recommend any specific publisher.
Recorded Books, LLC
Books on Tape (division of Random House)
Reader's Digest Large Type
Simon and Schuster
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