Supporting Parents and Carers of children with a Visual Impairment
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World Book Day: Finding out more about audiobooks

Today is #WorldBookDay, a day all about celebrating books and reading.
For many visually impaired people, one form of accessing books, is via audiobooks, also known as talking books. These are books that are read out by a narrator and are usually recorded.
Sam Obigbesan, our project Assistant, blogs about the history of audiobooks and how the internet has changed the way we listen to audiobooks today.

Talking books, as their alternately known, have been in existence for over 70 years. To begin with, those recordings of books, poems and plays were mainly aimed at the visually impaired and print disabled population.
They gained more popularity since the 1970’s when cassettes were introduced. This meant that books did not have to be abridged when recorded. This meant that more people could have access to them.
Though there were recording companies that soled recorded books on tapes for commercial use, such as Brilliance audio, Chiver’s and Clipper audiobooks; those organisations were mainly for profit. Charities such as Librivox in the US and Calibre audio library in the UK, provided people that were not able to read print for one reason or the other with audiobooks that could either be sent via post or through online streaming.
Public libraries had at their disposal a number of titles that had enjoyed some commercial success. Providing readers an alternative to purchasing the CD’s which could cost quite a bit, as both the recording process and the distribution was costly.
That changed with the introduction of online downloads. The costs of distributions dropped by at least 40% and the sales of hardware for instance CD’s and cassettes dropped at least by half. Online sales, with Audable; an Amazon Company, increased, occupying 50% of the sales in the entire audiobook industry.
Those are the cold facts, but what about the human related element?

Why do people listen to audiobooks?

For visually impaired people, audiobooks provide a way to access print titles. Additionally, people also listen to audiobooks while driving, or while doing house work and some listen when they want to go to sleep.

Get more involved with #WorldBookDay

RNIB and Guide Dogs are providing the £1 World Book Day books in braille, audio and large print. To find out more, visit the World Book Day website.

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