Our main way of providing audio books is in digital format. Most of our books are in the digital collection and all new books are added to it.
Digital formats have many advantages over traditional cassettes including:
most books fit onto one disk or memory stick
the sound quality is better
there is less risk of damage and
the postal packets are smaller and easier to fit into letterboxes
your chosen books are available on demand our streaming service (new in 2012)
Our digital books are in MP3 format and they are available on MP3 disks, USB memory sticks and via streaming.
You can download an information sheet about our digital service in PDF format or in Word format.
What is an MP3 disk?
MP3 disks look exactly like ordinary CDs, but the sound has been recorded in such a way that each disk can carry more than 16 hours of recording. All but the longest Calibre books will therefore fit on one disk.
For example,Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes fits onto one disk compared with nine cassettes.
This system is becoming popular for music and commercial audio book publishers are also starting to use it.
What to play MP3 disks on
If you want to try MP3 disks you will need a suitable player. MP3 is an ordinary commercially-available system so you can play the disks on:
a good range of MP3 machines from the shops, including portable models
your home computer if you have a CD drive
most DVD machines and
an RNIB Daisy player.
MP3 is not the same as the Daisy system used by the RNIB Talking Book Service. However many Daisy machines will play MP3 disks.
"What a pleasure the disk was to listen to. The story was good, the reader was good and the sound was top class."
Derek Tolson, Yorkshire - one of our MP3 pioneers
How to choose an MP3 disk player
There are lots of MP3 players in the shops and the models are changing all the time - so you need to think carefully about what you want. Calibre stocks a Denver CD player suitable for listening to our books. Please see our MP3 Players available from Calibre information sheet. This player can be bought from our online shop. For further information and details of other players please read our guide to finding an MP3 CD player.
We should point out that you may have heard of a completely different type of MP3 player, often referred to as an Ipod, which is designed for downloading material from the internet. This type of player will not play MP3 disks. Shop staff (or your family!) may assume this is the type of player you want - you need to make it clear that you want an MP3 disk player.
Advice about products and suppliers is given in good faith but please read our disclaimer.
"I found the MP3 disks very easy to use and especially appreciated having books on one disk. The sound quality is brilliant and the disks are much more compact than cassettes so they save space too."
Hazel Darvell, Devon - another MP3 pioneer
What is a USB memory stick?
A memory stick is a small device about the size of thumb which can hold a huge amount of digital information, such as a complete audio book. They are also referred to as thumb drives or pen drives. They plug into a player or computer.
To play your Calibre books using a memory stick you will need the Boom Box Plus USB speaker, Kings Audio Sovereign or another suitable player, some of which are being used by local talking newspapers.Calibre stocks the two players previously mentioned. Please see our MP3 Players available from Calibre information sheet fpr more details. These playesr can all be bought from our online shop. For further information and details of other players we suggest you read our Guide to Findng a USB Memory Stick Player leaflet.
Players suitable for listening to calibre books are supplied by:-
Graff of Newark
Kings Audio Visual
British Wireless Fund for the Blind
"Memory sticks are much easier to use than the cassettes and offer a better sound quality" says Sue Rogers from Bucks
Streaming is a service where Calibre audio books are delivered to you live as you listen, using the internet (as opposed to downloads where the complete book is delivered before you start listening). Calibre members can listen to them on internet enabled devices which include computers and of course smart mobile phones. This is a very exciting new service launched at the end of 2012. It offers:
- instant access to all 6,400 of our digital books
- no waiting for the post and
- complete mobility to listen to the book anywhere, at any time, using your internet enabled smart phone.
Calibre's streaming was developed in partnership with ipadio www.ipadio.com/corporate. The project was fully funded by grants including major contributions from Big Lottery Fund, The Rothschild Foundation, The Garfield Weston Foundation and the Beatrice Laing Trust.
Our library catalogue now includes a sample audio clip for all digital books. Anyone can listen to the audio sample - you do not have to be a member.
The streaming service is provided completely free of charge to existing Calibre members. A request to stream needs to be made by email or telephone and we will then enable your member account accordingly. Members with streaming enabled accounts will see a new "online booklist" facility where they can add books they wish to listen to via streaming.
For more information about our streaming service please see our User Guide to Streaming
We are delighted to welcome new members to Calibre who wish to use our streaming service. Our normal criteria for membership apply as Calibre is a charity operating under copyright licence for the benefit of people unable to read print. as a result of visual impairment, dyslexia or another disability. A single payment £35 joining fee applies for new adult members (£20 for under 16's joining our Young Calibre library).
Streaming is only available within the European Union.
Members wishing to stream should check their existing broadband or mobile service agreements to ensure they allow high or unlimited data. Calibre cannot be responsible for any costs incurred for streaming delivery and we do not recommend streaming on "pay as you go" type contracts.
Getting started with digital audio
Contact us on 01296 432 339 for our information cassette and a trial MP3 disk.
Currently we have over 6,400 books in this format, chosen from the most popular books in our library. We are adding new ones all the time. You can find out what we have available using the online catalogue.
This allows you to search for books in the format you prefer. The catalogue entry states whether it is available in digital format. Many books are still available on cassette.
Why have we introduced books in a digital format?
We provide digital formats because of the many advantages they bring for our members. We introduced the service in July 2006 after five years of careful research and testing with members to find the best option available.
We also introduced the digital service because the days of the cassette are definitely numbered. We will continue to provide a cassette service as long as we can for our existing members, but its popularity is waning and we must be ready with an alternative when this technology becomes obsolete. Our cassette service will close to new members on 1st May 2012.
We are meeting the £600,000 cost of the digital service through reserves and fundraising. Click here to see how you could contribute to this work.