Booker Prize shortlisted books freely available through RNIB’s Online Reading Library

Post date: 
Wednesday, 16 September 2020

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), in partnership with the Booker Prize Foundation, is offering blind and partially sighted book lovers free accessible versions of the 2020 Booker Prize shortlist.

All six books in contention for the prize will now be made available in braille and Talking Books with the Booker Prize Foundation making an annual donation to RNIB to produce the books in accessible formats.

Today, the shortlist was announced and celebrated virtually on the Booker Prize social channels. It comprised:

  • Diane Cook - The New Wilderness

  • Tsitsi Dangarembga - This Mournable Body

  • Avni Doshi - Burnt Sugar

  • Maaza Mengiste -The Shadow King

  • Douglas Stuart - Shuggie Bain

  • Brandon Taylor - Real Life   

RNIB Director of Services, David Clarke, said: “This has again been a great opportunity to work with the Booker Prize Foundation to make these prestigious titles accessible for blind and partially sighted readers. It’s imperative that books are available in formats that suit our readers needs and it’s RNIB’s vision to break down barriers and help create a society that is inclusive for people with sight loss. 

“We’d like to congratulate the contenders and wish them luck and look forward to interviewing them to bring their experiences to our readers through our publications and our own Connect Radio station.”

The charity has fast-tracked its production of the shortlisted titles to ensure that they are available ahead of the winner ceremony on 17 November. Ordinarily, it can take up to four months for RNIB to produce a title in fully accessible formats, including transcription, embossing and binding for braille editions, or recording and editing for Talking Books.

The charity has a panel of 400 narrators to choose from when recording its Talking Books. All the narrators used are professional actors with a diverse range of voices and, once a narrator has been selected for a title, they work with an audio producer at RNIB to record the book at the charity’s own recording studio. One Talking Book is typically around 10 hours long although the recording process can take between 15 and 18 hours.

Mr Clarke continued: “A good read has been a great help to people with sight loss as a way of dealing with self-isolation or social distancing measures. All our accessible books are available on our online library through apps such as EasyReader on Apple and Android Smartphones and reading electronic braille on the Orbit Reader. They will also be available on Amazon voice assistant devices by the end of the year.”

Eve Smith, Secretary of the Booker Prize Foundation, said: “The Booker Prize Foundation is delighted to continue its partnership with RNIB to promote the art of literature for blind and partially sighted people. The Foundation believes that visual impairment should not be a barrier either to enjoying contemporary fiction of the highest standard or joining in the debates and discussions which surround each year's prize.”

RNIB’s recently launched new online library platform offers people with sight loss instant access to more than 30,000 titles for free in formats that they can read, making it the UK’s largest online library of Talking Books – the world’s first audiobooks, which were originally created by the charity for soldiers who were blinded in the First World War.

RNIB is continually adding new content to its collection and works closely with publishers to bring readers the latest releases. Funded by voluntary donations, RNIB’s Library service sends out up to 10,000 books per day and lent more than 1.5 million titles last year on CD, USB and digital downloads.

To sign up to the online library please visit the RNIB website, or call the RNIB helpline on 0303 123 9999 to find out more.    


Notes to editors

All media enquiries to the RNIB press office on 0207 391 2223 or [email protected]. For urgent enquiries out-of-hours, please call 07968 482812.


About RNIB’s Talking Books

Talking Books reach hundreds of thousands of blind and partially sighted people. They’re currently more popular than ever, and it all started over 80 years ago when RNIB began providing books to war-blinded soldiers. RNIB’s Talking Book library started out with fifty-five books; it now sends out up to 10,000 books per day.


About RNIB

We are the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

Every six minutes, someone in the UK begins to lose their sight. RNIB is taking a stand against exclusion, inequality and isolation to create a world without barriers where people with sight loss can lead full lives. A different world where society values blind and partially sighted people not for the disabilities they’ve overcome, but for the people they are.

RNIB. See differently. Call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or visit


Booker Prize Foundation

The Booker Prize Foundation is a registered charity (no 1090049) established in 2002. It is responsible for the award of The Booker Prize for Fiction and for The International Booker Prize. The trustees of the Booker Prize Foundation are: Mark Damazer (chair) – freelance journalist and former broadcast executive; Nick Barley – director of Edinburgh International Book Festival; Bidisha SK Mamata – writer, critic and broadcaster; Carol Lake – managing director, Philanthropy Executive at JPMorgan Chase; James Naughtie – broadcaster; Ben Okri - poet and author; Professor Louise Richardson – vice chancellor of the University of Oxford; The Rt Hon. Lord David Willetts – writer, ex-minister and advocate of fairness between the generations.