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Talking books rise in popularity

The RNIB’s Talking Books reports a large growth in the uptake of the service

Man listening to talking book

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has reported a 30% year-on-year rise in the use of its Talking Books service, which gives blind and partially sighted people access to books.

Since last November when the service became free, more than 11,000 new members have signed up.

Reflecting on the increase, senior manager of Library and Heritage Services at the RNIB, Mark McCree, said: “It is amazing that our Talking Books service has seen a 30% growth in its membership at a time when library services across the country are struggling in the face of severe cuts.”

More than 25,000 titles are available through the Talking Books service in a range of formats, including USB, CD and MP3 downloads. The service also offers books in giant print and braille, making it the largest service of its kind in Europe, with around 60,000 accessible items.

In order to ensure the library is up to date with the latest titles, the charity has an agreement with HarperCollins, which sees all of the publisher’s new titles made available in accessible formats.

Mr McCree highlighted the importance of the accessible library service for helping people maintain their independence, and the enjoyment that Talking Books can provide for people with sight loss.