History of Talking Books

Post date: 
Tuesday, 9 October 2018
Lady listening to a Talking Book

This year marks 100 years since the end of the First World War. It’s also a century since Captain Ian Fraser joined RNIB (then known as NIB) and began toying with the idea of a ‘talking book’.

Blinded by a sniper in 1916 during the Battle of the Somme, Fraser was at St Dunstan’s when he was inspired by the thought of ‘books that could talk’, an idea that he investigated further upon joining NIB. The first recordings included some of Fraser’s favourite poems. They were of poor quality, but this is where Talking Books began. In 1935, the first Talking Book was released. A total of 10 discs would have been used to record an average novel, and the shellac discs could only be played on specially designed turntables.Today, Talking Books can be played on just about anything, including smartphones, Kindles, DAISY players and MP3 players. Listeners can take books with them wherever they go, and enjoy them no matter where they are in the world. Agatha Christie’s ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd’ was one of the first Talking Books NIB released. At the time, it was one of five titles available through the service. Today, we distribute more than one million audiobooks to customers every year, providing blind and partially sighted people with entertainment and helping overcome isolation.

Our Talking Books Service is free and gives you access to thousands of fiction and non fiction books for children and adults.