Text Size:   A+ A- A   •   Text Only
Site Image

Winter 2010 Newsletter
Talking Book and Braille News
Digital Talking Book Machine
Talking Book and Braille Services
Oregon State Library
250 Winter St NE
Salem, OR 97301-3950
(503) 378-5389 or (800) 452-0292
Fax: (503) 588-7119
email: tbabs.info@state.or.us
website: www.tbabs.org
           Volume 7,  Issue  4  ·  Winter  2010  Â·  Editor:  Joel Henderson
We are pleased to announce a great milestone here at Talking Books.  As of Monday, November 8, 2010, we officially cleared our waiting list for digital players!  Everyone who requested a player, starting way back in March of 2009 and on through the present, has now received one of the little beauties.
Our goal was to get through the entire list by the end of 2010; needless to say our mission was accomplished with time to spare.  For those who like numbers, here are a few we think are impressive:
  • 75% of our patrons have digital players
  • 27% of all books circulated are digital books
  • We have created over 4000 digital books
  • Over 14% of patrons are registered with BARD
  • Over 46,000 books have been downloaded by our patrons from BARD
We are now working on systematically sending out digital players to patrons who are still using cassettes only.  This method will help us avoid having to create another waiting list.  We have identified groups of patrons to send players to, and hopefully by this time next year we will have everyone transitioned over to using digital players.
We really appreciate your patience over the past year, and thank you for all the kind and encouraging words you’ve shared with us about the new digital program.  And while the digital transition process is not entirely finished, we’re glad to have one HUGE to-do item checked off our list.
We here at Talking Books think the new digital players are wonderful, but you shouldn’t have to just take our word for it.  Here are some quotes about the new digital players from patrons just like you.
“It’s fool proof, and even someone as electronically challenged as me could use it the first time.” – Hugh Harcourt, Portland
“If you fall asleep while listening to a book, it’s really nice and easy to be able to rewind in increments instead of having to rewind, stop, listen, rewind again, stop, listen, etc.” – Manuel Gonzales, Bend
 â€œI really like the digital player.  The other player is so bulky and doesn’t hold a charge nearly as long as the digital player does.” – Frieda Jones, Grants Pass
“I just love my new digital player and digital books.  They are so much simpler to use than the old cassette books.” – Connie Getz, Florence
“I use the sleep button all the time.  That’s one of the best features of the new machine.  And the books are much clearer.” – Bonnie Malone, Portland
Since starting our transition to digital books over a year ago we’ve received a lot of questions about the new format.  Here are some of the most common questions we hear, and an answer for each:
Q: If I stop a book in the middle and take the book out of the player, when I put the same book back in later will it start over where I left off?
A: Yes!  The player itself remembers where you are in each book, so you can read multiple books on several different cartridges at the same time and never lose your place.
Q: How do I rewind a digital book once I’m finished?
A: You don’t need to; just mail it back to us.  That is one of our favorite features of the digital program.  Each book will automatically start from the beginning in someone else’s player.  However, please continue rewinding your cassette books.
Q: I’ve been downloading books from BARD, and I have several books on one flash drive.  How do I choose which one I’d like to listen to?
A: Press and hold the green Play button until you hear the player beep and say “Book shelf.”  Then use the rewind and fast forward buttons to toggle through the books on the flash drive.  When you find the one you want, press the Play button.
Q: How long is the loan period for the new digital books?
A: The loan period for digital books is 6 weeks, same as for the cassette books.
Q: Will I get the same books in digital that I got on cassette?
A: Yes.  If you are an Autoselect patron, your same preferences will apply to your digital books.  If you are a Request-Only patron, your requests will be switched over to digital as long as a digital version of the book is available.
For our patrons that have received their new digital players, Executive Products, Inc. and Perkins School are both offering a specially designed carrying case you can purchase for your personal use.
The case features Executive Products’ “Turtleback” material, and is designed to protect every portion of the digital machine while still allowing access to all buttons, ports, and components.  It also comes with a shoulder strap and handle strap to make taking your player along with you wherever you go easier.  The case will fit both the standard model and the advanced model of the digital player.
If you are interested in purchasing one of these cases you can find them online at www.ExecutiveProductsInc.com or www.perkins.org, or you can call 818-833-8822 for Executive Products or 978-462-3817 for Perkins School.
Twenty years ago, Thomas Price of Grants Pass, Oregon left a large portion of his estate to TBABS in memory of his wife, Irene, who enjoyed talking books throughout her lifetime.  We used this bequest to establish a TBABS Endowment Fund to help provide talking book services for generations to come.
How do you join the Irene Price Society? Simply let us know that TBABS is included in your estate planning. You can shape your estate planning many different ways. The most popular choices are:
  • Establish a Bequest to TBABS in a will or living trust
  • Designate TBABS as a beneficiary of an individual retirement plan or life insurance policy
To join the Irene Price Society and learn more about planned giving call Robin Speer at 503-378-5014 or send an email to robin.d.speer@state.or.us. We look forward to having you as a member!
As of October 1st, 2010, the National Library Service (NLS) cancelled all remaining cassette book orders except for any books that were already in the process of being recorded.  What this news means for you, our patrons, is as of January 2011, any and all new books will only be available in the digital format.
There are a lot of benefits to making the switch to digital.  There is only one cartridge per book, instead of several cassettes, and you don’t need to flip the cartridge over or switch sides.  The digital players are smaller, and the sound quality is much better.  There are no moving parts, so the books and players hardly if ever wear out or need repair.  And you can listen to downloaded books from BARD on you machine, giving you access to the entire digital collection instantly.
If you have not considered making the switch to digital yet, now is the time.  We will be systematically contacting people who have not received a new digital player over the coming months.  When you hear from us, be ready with a resounding “Yes,” and we’ll get your new digital player in the mail to you right away.
As the state budget belt tightens, we here at Talking Books have been looking into ways to help lower our costs while still providing the same level of customer service you enjoy.  One idea we’ve decided to pursue is to start sending out our newsletter via email instead of print, cassette, or Braille to patrons with an email address listed in their account.
The email version of our newsletter contains the exact same content as our print newsletter, and it is still sent out in a large-print font.  We also post our newsletters on our website (www.tbabs.org), where you can find them by clicking on the Publications link along the left side.  Many of our previous issues are archived there as well.
If you have an email address and would like to start receiving this newsletter electronically, or if you need to update the email address we have listed in your account, please call us at 800-452-0292, or email us at tbabs.info@state.or.us.  We appreciate your understanding as we work to be good stewards of our resources.
At their fall meeting in Kansas City, the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA), made up of state librarians from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, passed a resolution calling upon the National Library Services (NLS) to make its new digital talking books readable on the iPhone and other smartphones.
The resolution was in response to a letter that quoted the director of NLS as being reluctant to move in this direction.  The director indicated that he believed that blind iPhone users are a “tiny … minority” of blind readers and he cited concerns about the security of Apple devices that might compromise NLS’s digital rights management software.
COSLA is aware that every other major country now makes it possible for blind smartphone users to read talking books. The Association for the Blind of Western Australia (ABWA) has created an iPhone app that will read digital talking books from Australia and other countries.  The COSLA resolution calls on NLS to work with Apple and with ABWA so that blind iPhone users in the U.S. can use the new app, and that NLS cooperate with other manufacturers of smartphones to allow NLS books to be read on their devices as apps become available.
State librarians understand that smartphones are becoming very popular with blind people because they include features that make them usable by the blind right out of the box.  The same is true of devises like the iPad and iPod Touch.  At a recent National Federation of the Blind conference in Kansas, the Kansas State Librarian reported that about a third of the attendees were iPhone users.
We have been receiving a fair number of calls from people who have accidently mailed back a digital book container without the cartridge in it.  If you happen to find yourself in this situation, thankfully there is an easy solution.
We recommend placing the orphaned cartridge on top of another cartridge you are returning, then snap the container shut.  It will be a tight fit, and the container will show a noticeable bulge, but that is ok.  Whenever we receive a bulging container, it’s a sign to us that there is an extra cartridge inside.  We will remove the extra cartridge and match it with its container.
We inspect every book container when it is returned, so you don’t need to call us to say you’re mailing back an extra cartridge.  Just drop the bulging container in the mail and rest assured we’ll handle it properly.
Keeping track of digital books is especially important because digital books cost nearly $9 each to produce, while cassettes cost less than .50 cents. After you have read your digital books, please send them back in their correct cases so that your neighbors can enjoy them, too. Thanks for your help!
If you are a patron of ours that receives books by subjects, such as Westerns, Mysteries, or Science Fiction, you may sometimes get a book that is part of a series.  Many times the book may not be the first title in the series.  If you like the book and want to request the rest of the series, we can set up a series request for you.  A good example of a series is the Mountain Man series by William Johnstone, or the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling.
When we set up a series request for you, our system will automatically send out the remaining books in the series to you in their numbered order.  This way you don’t have to request each book in the series individually.  Please let us know if you would like to skip the books you’ve already read, or if you’d like to receive them again in their series order.
If the next book in the series is unavailable, your name will be automatically added to the waiting list for that book.  In the meantime, you will not receive any subsequent books in the series.  Also, when new books in a series come out, your series request will apply to them as well.
If you don’t mind receiving the books in a series out of order, you may consider just adding the author of the series to your preference list.  This option works well if the series features a central character but does not necessarily follow a chronological plot line.
It is with a heavy heart that TBABS must announce the end of our Unabridged downloadable book service as of January 1, 2011.  Several of our consortium partners met with insurmountable financial difficulties and decided to pull out of the program, leaving a funding burden to great for the remaining consortium partners’ shoulders to bear.
However, you can still access many of the same downloadable books through your local public library if they are part of the Library2Go consortium.  Library2Go is powered by OverDrive, the same company behind Unabridged, and many libraries across the state participate in this ebook service, including: Salem Public Library, Multnomah County Library, Eugene Public Library, and the Douglas County Library System.
If you are interested in registering for Library2Go service, please contact your local public library.  You can also visit the program’s website at http://library2go.lib.overdrive.com/ for more information and a list of participating libraries.
As a reminder to our patrons, it is against Free Matter federal mailing regulations to include notes in the mailing containers of books you are returning.  To send us requests, please mail them in a separate envelope, call us, or send us an email.  To report a defective book, just mark the box in the upper-left corner of the return mailing card.  Thanks.
TBABS will be closed on the following state office closure days and legal holidays:
  • January 17, MLK Jr. Day
  • February 21, President’s Day
  • March 18, Closure Day
  • May 20, Closure Day
  • May 30, Memorial Day
Any mention of products and services in Talking Book and Braille News is for information only and does not imply endorsement.