Graeme Macrae Burnet backs drive for more ‘talking books’ for readers with sight loss

Post date: 
Monday, 21 August 2017

Graeme Macrae Burnet, the Kilmarnock-born author of the Man Booker Prize nominated ‘His Bloody Project’, is backing the need for more books to be made available for blind and partially sighted people.

As guest author at an Edinburgh International Book Festival event organised by sight loss charity RNIB Scotland this afternoon, Graeme will discuss and read extracts from his novel.

His first novel, ‘The Disappearance of Adele Bedeau’, won him the Scottish Book Trust New Writer Award in 2013. ‘His Bloody Project’ was nominated for the 2016 Man Booker Prize.

Graeme Macrae Burnet said: "I'm delighted that ‘His Bloody Project’ is available in braille as well audio book. It's so important that visually impaired people have access to as wide a variety of reading material as possible, and the RNIB's drive to make this possible is one that I fully support."

Robert Kirkwood, presenter of RNIB Connect Radio's 'Read On' programme, will interview Graeme on stage and then chair a panel discussion with blind and partially sighted people who are enthusiastic readers, including Gordon Anthony, a published author of historical fiction.

“The Book Festival is the biggest literary gathering in the world to celebrate the sheer joy of reading” he said, “but for people with sight loss their choices are much more limited.

“Only a minority of books published make it into all accessible formats, and yet new technology has made it easier and cheaper to produce them in this way.  E.books can be read on tablets, e.readers and mobile phones, by adjusting font size, and using electronic braille or synthetic voice. We want our event this afternoon to show there is a demand for more books for people with sight loss, and that the authors like Graeme want their work to be available to all.

“There are over 170,000 people in Scotland alone with a significant sight problem and over two million across the UK.  And often for them reading is an absolute lifeline, a way of combating isolation and keeping in touch with the outside world.”

Previous RNIB events at the Book Festival have heard high-profile authors such as James Kelman, Julia Donaldson, AL Kennedy and Kate Atkinson make the same call. “We’ve been incredibly lucky to have had tremendous support from the Book Festival organisers and their enthusiasm for the work we do," said Robert.

RNIB’s Talking Books library currently contains over 21,000 titles. Across the UK, it has a readership of over 40,000 subscribers.  Last year, it issued 1.53 million books to them.  It takes two to three months to record a Talking Book and costs on average £2,500.