Saturday, November 17

The future of reading is here

Greetings. In my post earlier today, I referenced the current digital talking book pilot program that the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) is conducting. A review of this ability to read digital talking books and the program appears in the November 2007 issue of Access World called Reading into the Future: An Overview of the National Library Service's Digital Talking Book Test Program. Even though this article barely scratches the surface of what its like to read a digital book, much less browse the collection which currently numbers just over 8200, it will give you a sense of what the program has meant to people already and its potential. The article also includes addresses for how you can get the Victor Reader Stream and get involved in the test program. Its way cool to be able to hit Play and sit back and listen to a book while in bed or riding the bus to work. Though I'll miss the announcement of the number of sides a book has, I can still get information on amount of time lapsed and remaining with the Stream's information function (key 0), which I often do since I like knowing where I am in a book, even if the book doesn't have any cassette announcements. Anyway, I've already put my borrowing on hold with my local NLS library, and will probably let my membership run out. I can't see myself borrowing another book through the mail with them given the access to books that I now have. Sure, the digital book collection is far less than the tape collection. However, new books are being converted and posted all the time. There's also access to magazines from cassette, which are slowly being converted over as well. There's talk that all the tape based magazines will be converted by the end of next year. When the Stream adds support for electronic Braille files, that will increase the number and amount of content available as well. So, I'm quite content to listen to my digital and professionally narrated books for now. That could change of course, but I honestly can't see it doing so anytime soon. If you're interested in signing up for the DTB program from NLS and getting a VR Stream, then I'd highly encourage you to do so. It might be one of the best investments you've made in awhile, as far as access to information goes. I think that it is for me, after my purchase of the Talks software for my cell phone. Enjoy and happy reading!

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