For people who have difficulties reading or handling traditional print books, talking books represent an alternative that allows you to continue to enjoy reading. Most of us are familiar with audiobooks, a popular format which has seen steady growth as people realize how convenient they are when you are on the go. Today, most commercially available audiobooks come out at the same time or shortly after the hardcover releases of bestsellers, including popular biographies, fiction and nonfiction, mysteries, and other genres. Unfortunately Canadian literature and academic writings are not prevalent in the commercial audiobook market.
Often people use the terms “talking books" and "audiobooks" interchangeably to refer to audio recordings of books. Although audiobooks are widely available to everyone and are readily obtainable in the marketplace in digital as well as physical format, talking books are restricted to people with perceptual disabilities. Talking books are special audio recordings of books in a proprietary format that have search and navigation features, enabling readers to move from section to section, page to page, paragraph to paragraph, phrase to phrase and/or word to word.
Like other book formats, talking books have evolved over time, starting off on vinyl, migrating to cassettes, then to CD, and now available digitally via the web. Toronto Public Library has over 25,000 talking books available for borrowing by customers as well as over 77,000 commercial audiobooks. Eligible customers can request talking books through the library’s home library service by completing and submitting a Talking Book application form. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us, we’re here to help.