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Frequently Asked Questions

Who can use the service?

Calibre welcomes adults and children. You can become a member if :

  • you can't see well enough to read print
  • you have dyslexia or another disability which prevents you from reading print.

Our digital service offers excellent sound quality and we regularly add new titles (at least 500 per year). 

What does it cost to join the service?

There is a one-off administration fee of £35 (£20 for Young Calibre) to join the library. Thereafter, we do not charge any subscription and there are no fines for lost, late or damaged books - anything you contribute is a purely voluntary donation. We make a small charge for our print catalogues but the online catalogue is free.

How do I get the books and return them to you?

Calibre books are delivered and returned by post, free of charge.

How many books can I have?

Most people have two books at a time. When you have finished the first book return it to us and we then send out a replacement which should reach you before you have finished reading the second book. In this way you'll get books at your own speed. If you read a lot you may need more than two books - just ask and we will increase your allocation. Owing to the higher costs of USB memory sticks, allocation of USB sticks is capped at three per member.

What equipment do I need?

Calibre's digital books by post are in two formats - MP3 format compact disk and USB memory stick  All members can borrow our books on disk and memory stick. We also offer an online streaming service.

For the books on MP3 format CDs there is a wide choice of players, with different features and at different prices. If you have recently bought a CD player this may play MP3 disks as well as ordinary CDs. You can also listen to them on many DVD players, on computers, and on many Daisy machines (including the ones currently supplied by the RNIB Talking Book Service). Read more about our digital service or phone 01296 432 339 and ask for our information cassette and a trial MP3 disk.

To play your books using a USB memory stick you need a memory stick player. There are a selection of players on the market, some specifically designed for people with sight problems, Some local talking newspapers have already issued memory stick players to their subscribers. A list of suppliers is included in Calibre's guide to finding an MP3 CD Player or Calibre's guide to finding a USB memory stick player.

The Concerto 2 player from the British Wireless Fund for the Blind plays all 3 formats of Calibre books - USB memory sticks, MP3 CDs and cassettes - and has been designed for easy use by people with visual impairment.

Links to websites of suppliers are provided at the bottom of this page.

What sort of books do you have?

We aim to provide a good selection of books you may like to read for pleasure. The titles in the main library include best-sellers, classic authors, detective stories, historical novels and non-fiction such as biography and travel. There are also 1,400 books specially recorded for children and young people. We welcome suggestions for new books to add to the library.

How do I choose the books I want to read?

The simplest way is to tell us which kinds of books you enjoy - biographies, romances, crime or whatever - and leave the rest to us. Young Calibre members can opt to get books suitable for their age group.

Some members prefer to give us a personal book list and there are many ways to compile one.

This website has the complete library catalogue (see What's in the library) and it's very easy to select your books online - members can click here to go to the members login page.

We produce a range of print catalogues and a quarterly bulletin of reading ideas and new books added to the library called For Your Ears Only. You can have the magazine posted to you or read it on this website. Young Calibre members can get reading ideas from the Press Play page.

You can read more about all of this on the How to choose your books page.

Can you help me choose my books?

If you tell us the sort of books you like, such as detective stories, love stories, or books about the war, we will then choose books for you. More than half our members use this system. There is a page on the application form for you to tell us what sort of books you like, and you can add to or change your list at any time.

Alternatively, if you enjoy particular writers, or if there is a subject that interests you, do ring us up, preferably in the afternoon, and we'll put together a list of books to suit you.


Whatever your question, just ask. We're here to help - just phone our Membership Services team on 01296 432 339 or email enquiries@calibre.org.uk .