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Our Digital Service

Calibre MP3 CD and USB Memory Stick

We provide all audiobooks in digital format. Digital formats have many benefits including:

  • most books fit onto one disk or memory stick
  • the sound quality is excellent
  • there is a low risk of damage and
  • the postal packets are small and easy to fit into letterboxes
  • your chosen books are available on demand our streaming service 

Our digital books are in MP3 format and they are available on memory sticks, MP3 disks and via streaming.

You can download an information sheet about our digital service in PDF format or in Word format.

What is a 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 a Kings Audio Sonic or Sovereign player, Boombox Plus or another suitable player, some of  which are being used by local talking newspapers. Calibre stocks the three players previously mentioned. Please see our MP3 Players available from Calibre information sheet for more details. These players can all be bought from our online shop. For further information and details of players available elsewhere we suggest you read our Guide to Other MP3 players leaflet.

Other players suitable for listening to calibre books are supplied by:-
British Wireless Fund for the Blind

Sue Rogers listens to book on memory stick

"Memory sticks are much easier to use than the cassettes and offer a better sound quality" says Sue Rogers from Bucks

What is an MP3 disk?

MP3 Disk and wallet

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.

This system is popular for music and commercial audio book publishers are also using 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:

Listening to an MP3 CD

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 some MP3 players in the shops

An ipod is 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 disc player.
Calibre members look at MP3 CD Players

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


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 of our digital books (almost 11,000 titles)
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 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 includes a sample audio clip for all 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. Members will see an "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 and £20 for under 16's.

Streaming is available across the UK, EU and all countries that have ratified the Marrakesh Treaty. 

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 CD.

Currently we have almost 11,000 unabridged audiobooks and 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.

Why 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 we knew the days of the cassette were numbered.

Click here to see how you could contribute to our service.