If RNIB's Talking Books service was born out of the First World War, the Second World War nearly killed off the project when our recording studio (and its temporary replacement) was bombed during the Blitz.
Thankfully we were able to rebuild quickly, with a little help from the American Foundation for the Blind who sent a gift of 500,000 gramophone needles to help us meet demand for the growing book service.
Today, 80 years after the first recording, our studios are at the heart of building the biggest and best service of its kind, with more than 23,000 books in its library and a hand in the development of every major audio innovation of the past century.
In the 1930s, the average talking book would be split over around 10 gramophone records, capable of holding 25 minutes per side. Even that was an amazing feat, but someone had to catalogue them all…
The first talking book tape player arrived in 1960, and tapes were so big that the post office had to start a separate service to deliver them. But recording to tape allowed for greater flexibility than shellac, and thankfully the packages soon got smaller.
Roald Dahl was one of a host of famous authors to lend their voice to RNIB’s Talking Book Service. He was known to introduce each of his recordings by saying, “…read by Roald Dahl, that’s me!”
State of the art recording equipment in our Camden studio, where our engineers work to make every syllable count.
When it comes to capturing voices, nothing can be left to chance. RNIB’s studios use cutting-edge microphone technology to capture every nuance.
There are no cheats or shortcuts for recording talking books. Here, we see the familiar sight of sound engineer and narrator settling in for the long haul.
The hard work behind him, a smiling Bill Bryson takes some time to sign a copy of his book, The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America.