Braille Book Review

November-December 2009

What’s new in Talking Book Topics

Digital talking books are now available on cartridges. NLS has altered the format of Talking Book Topics (TBT) to accommodate the announcement of digital books on cartridges. The changes are as follows:

  1. Books for Adults, Books for Children, and Foreign Language Books

    Since a title that is available as both a digital book (DB) and a recorded cassette (RC) will have the same book number, the prefix DB/RC will be used with the book number. The length of reading time will follow the book number; the line informing readers of the number of cassettes has been eliminated.

    DB/RC 12345 1 hour 18 minutes

    If the book is available only in one medium, then the relevant prefix will appear. This change will occur in all versions of TBT (large print, recorded cassette, diskette, and online).

  2. Order Forms
    Book numbers will be listed and check boxes will be provided next to each available medium on the order forms.

    Number    Media Type
    54757      □DB □RC

    NLS has eliminated the OCR numbers that were listed under the heading “For Office Use Only.” This change will occur in the large-print and recorded cassette versions of TBT.
  3. Index
    For both the title and author listings in the index, the prefix DB/RC will appear before the book number for each title available in both media. This change will occur only in the large-print version.

With the exception of the changes outlined above, Talking Book Topics will retain its existing format.

What’s new in Braille Book Review

Minor changes will occur in the format of Braille Book Review (BBR) to accommodate the announcement of digital talking books on cartridges. The changes are as follows:

1. Order Forms
a. Braille

The braille order form will have four columns to allow patrons to select the medium of their choice. Since a title that is available as both a digital book (DB) and a recorded cassette (RC) will have the same book number, the braille order form for audiobooks will list the prefixes DB and RC in separate columns. The book number will be in the third column and the title in the fourth. Books are only available in the media listed on the order form.

__ DB     __RC 12345 Book Title A
             __RC 12346 Book Title B

In the example above the book number 12346 is only available as a recorded cassette.

b. Large Print

NLS has eliminated the OCR numbers that were listed under the heading “For Office Use Only.”

With the exception of the changes outlined above, Braille Book Review will retain its existing format.

The following information is reprinted from an issue of NLS Flash, a newsletter created to bring current information on NLS progress in digital technology to patrons, library staff, and other interested individuals.

Flash September 2009, volume 5, issue 2

Prelaunch testing complete; NLS begins rollout of digital talking-book system

After two decades of research and planning, design and production, testing and modifications, the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), Library of Congress, is ready to begin mass distribution of its digital talking-book system.

A prelaunch test was successfully completed in July 2009. NLS delivered 5,000 digital talking-book players and nearly 18,000 copies of 54 digital talking-book titles to 8 participating libraries across the country and to JBI International of New York City. These libraries then distributed the players and books to a select group of their most active patrons. Only six of the talking-book players were returned because of operational issues during the ten-week test. Other problems identified with the system included ink on the book-cartridge labels that sometimes smeared with handling, mailing container cards that fell from their slots, and two battery-operated players that turned themselves on after being turned off. These problems have been addressed.

“The prelaunch verified that the materials developed for the digital transition have been appropriately designed, thoroughly tested, and are being properly produced,” said Michael Katzmann, chief of the NLS Materials Development Division.

Digital talking-book players

As of August 1, 2009, Shinano-Kenshi Co., the manufacturer of the digital talking-book player, began shipping 14,400 machines from its plant in Ueda City, Japan, to its Nexus Distribution Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania, which houses Shinano-Kenshi’s acceptance facility. Nexus employees, under the guidance of NLS and Shinano-Kenshi staff, inspect the players before preparing them for distribution. NLS has sent two staff members from its Quality Assurance Section to Allentown on a weekly basis to oversee this process. Shipment was initiated on August 14.

Shinano-Kenshi air shipped the initial batch of 14,400 players from Japan to ensure the rollout of the digital talking-book system is kept on schedule. Remaining players will be sent by ship from Japan through the Panama Canal to the United States.

Audiobook cartridges

The Dongguan, China, manufacturing plant of California-based Northstar Systems Inc. will have, as of August 26, 2009, manufactured and shipped 730,000 flash-memory cartridges to NLS audio producers and 45,900 cartridges to NLS network libraries that will use them to record audiobooks.

Mailing containers

LC Industries, based in Hazlehurst, Mississippi, is the contractor for the blue plastic containers that are used to mail digital talking books to patrons. The nonprofit organization, affiliated with the National Industries for the Blind, has been shipping 30,000 containers a week to NLS producers since mid-July.

Digital talking-book titles

Digital talking books are also being shipped across the country. NLS selected 650 new titles for distribution on cartridges in digital format in 2008. The projected number of new “born digital” titles for 2009 through 2013 is 2,000 per year, with the number of copies per titles increasing each year until 2012, at which time it will level off to 925 copies per title, or 1.8 million digital talking books per year.

In addition to the new titles produced, since 2004 approximately 10,000 titles from the analog collection were selected for conversion to digital format. In total, roughly 13,000 retrospective titles are projected to be available in digital format for 2009 and 15,000 will be by 2010. Retrospective titles are listed on the NLS Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD). Reissues of selected retrospective titles will continue to be offered on cartridges (on a limited basis), along with all of the new titles.

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