It’s been 80 years since the first Talking Books and machines were sent out to our first members across the country.
Since then, thousands of blind and partially sighted people have discovered the joys of audiobooks, and have been able to take advantage of developing technologies and a growing collection of books to make their reading and listening experience even better.
We’ve gathered together some fun facts and figures for you below to mark eight decades of one of our most popular services. Let us know your favourite books and authors, or your own memories of the service over the years, by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The queen of crime herself! It’s fitting that Agatha Christie remains one of our most popular authors, since “The murder of Roger Ackroyd” was one of the first books selected for the start of the Talking Books collection back in 1935.
Author of the No1. Ladies Detective Agency series, the Scotland Street novels and much more, Alexander McCall Smith has been close to our readers’ hearts for many years. Listen to a recent Insight Radio interview with the author.
You may be familiar with Lynda La Plante through her television work, as she wrote the popular Prime Suspect crime series. Her books are just as popular with our readers, with “Prime Suspect” itself becoming one of our most downloaded titles when we launched RNIB Overdrive [hyperlink not included as will link to new page], our digital download service for Talking Books, in 2014.
Grisham’s legal thrillers are enduring favourites among our Talking Book users, including “The Firm”, which was also made into a popular film starring Tom Cruise.
We were thrilled to be able to bring out Josephine Cox’s latest book, “The lonely girl”, at the same time as the standard print edition, so our readers and listeners could enjoy it at the same time as everyone else.
One of the more prolific authors writing today, and one of the most popular, Stephen King is also a hit among Talking Book members.
More crime with Martina Cole, whose gritty British thrillers often feature female protagonists, and have been adapted for stage and screen.
Author of the Inspector Banks series, this prize winning author is one of our most requested.
“Reading takes you into a world of imagination... You can get lost reading a book really! If it’s a really good book and a really good reader, it means so much to you – it gives you hours and hours of entertainment.”
Heather Owens, Northern Ireland
“Talking Books is an absolute lifeline, absolutely brilliant.”
Sean Stanley, Surrey
"I'm really enjoying using RNIB Overdrive [the digital download service for Talking Books] and being able to listen to my books day or night. I can just put in my headphones and get engrossed in the latest novel. I've always been a keen reader and services like this mean that even though my eyesight has deteriorated, I can still read as much as I like.”
Kevin Beesting, Leeds
Download our anniversary brochure:
To borrow any of the authors or books above, or to browse our range of more than 23,000 Talking Books, visit our library catalogue online.
If you’re not already a member, you can find out more, sign up or get a free trial or sample – just visit our Talking Books pages online, call our Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or email email@example.com.