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Read all about it! RNIB launches new online library for people with sight loss

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has launched a new online library offering people with sight loss instant access to thousands of free books in formats they can read.

The new platform already has more than 26,000 titles 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.

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. This number continues to grow constantly, with the latest new titles including The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel, Queenie by Kimberley Chambers and Westwind by Ian Rankin.

It is hoped that this new platform, which aims to improve the current service, will provide even more blind and partially sighted people with access to reading at a time when lockdown measures due to the coronavirus have restricted outdoor activity.

RNIB Director of Services, David Clarke said: “Reading has become increasingly important to many blind and partially sighted people as a way of dealing with social distancing measures or self-isolation. By getting stuck into a good book, we are transported to another world – away from the stresses and strains of the current situation.

“That’s why we wanted to change the way we deliver our Reading Services for the better – making it even easier for people to access the thousands of titles we offer. Our new online library takes advantage of the latest developments in technology and allows people to access our books using a range of different devices, while choosing from an even bigger collection.”

As well as Talking Books, RNIB’s Online Library offers a growing number of books in eBraille which means people are able to download titles and read them on an electronic braille display, such as the Orbit Reader 20.

Kim Jaye from Bolton is severely visually impaired and has found RNIB’s Talking Books to be a lifeline during the lockdown. She said: “These amazing audiobooks have allowed me to maintain a sense of sanity, when the whole world seems to be going mad. They allow me to escape the confines of isolated reality into a place where my imagination takes control and keeps me calm. Talking Books are a lifeline that keep me afloat.”

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.

RNIB is able to offer this essential service for blind and partially sighted people thanks to generous donations from the public. To donate and help us continue to deliver vital services like these, please visit the RNIB website, or call the RNIB helpline on 0303 123 9999. For information about sponsoring a talking book, please visit

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.

The lockdown has seen even more demand for the service, with popular genres including mysteries, thrillers and autobiographies. The most popular titles of the last four weeks include:

  • Rain on the dead, by Jack Higgins, narrated by Nigel Carrington
  • Saints of the Shadow Bible, Ian Rankin, narrated by Jonathan Hackett
  • In the King's Name, by Alexander Kent, narrated by Peter Wickham
  • Bella Poldark, by Winston Graham, narrated by Elizabeth Proud
  • Gone Tomorrow, by Lee Child, narrated by William Roberts
  • This Was A Man, by Jeffery Archer, narrated by Alex Jennings
  • War Cry, by Wilbur Smith, narrated by Sean Barrett
  • Cleaning the Gold, by Karin Slaughter, narrated by Eric J Martin and Jeff Harding
  • Two Sisters, by Josephine Cox, narrated by Carole Boyd
  • All the Colours of Darkness, Peter Robinson, narrated by Richard Burnip

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