Talking Book News Bulletin, Summer 2009.........Español

Internal Links
Director's Report
ACB Conferance Info
Holiday Closings
Four Books to enjoy
John Cheever
Seeing Eye

Website Recommendations
Digital Q & A

Favorites from the 1930s to the 1960s
Related Links
Loan Policy
Spotlight on Texas Books
Disability Information & Referral Center
National Library Service for the Blind & Physically Handicapped

Director's Report

Greetings! Here is the latest news:

Update on the Digital Talking Book Machine (DTBM): By the time you read this, the final testing of the new digital talking book machine (DTBM) and the new digital talking books (DTBs) will be wrapping up, and the network libraries of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) will be preparing to receive their first shipments of these materials for distribution. The first shipments of DTBs from NLS are slated for late summer, and the first shipments of the DTBMs are expected in early fall.  

The new DTBMs have many exciting features. The sound quality is much improved from the current cassette players. The DTBM talks to you and tells you what each button is and how it operates. A portal on the side of the machine allows you to insert a thumb drive and play books downloaded from BARD and Unabridged. Our testers are most enthusiastic about the “sleep” button, which allows the user to select fifteen-minute increments of playtime before quietly fading out. Best of all, the new digital flash cartridges contain an entire book on the flash drive, which means no flipping and changing of cassettes and no rewinding when you’re done!

If you would like to use a DTBM, you must put your name on the waiting list. Some of you have not done this, yet, thinking you will be able to call us and request a DTBM when we start distributing. We already have over 4,000 patrons on the waiting list, and we know that we will not be receiving that many DTBMs right away. If you are a veteran, you must put your name on the list, too, and over 800 veterans have already done so. We currently have no plans to automatically send a DTBM to any patron who has not already requested one and is not on the waiting list. You may put in your request by calling 1-800-252-9605, sending a fax to 1-512-936-0685, sending an email to, or mailing in your request to Talking Book Program, Reader Services Dept., P.O. Box 12927, Austin, TX 78711-2927.

Please remember that your account must be in good standing before you may borrow a DTBM. If you have too many overdue books or too many lost or damaged machines on your account, then your ability to borrow a DTBM will be delayed. If you have questions about the distribution of DTBMs or what you have to do to keep your account in good standing, please call a reader consultant at 1-800-252-9605 for assistance.

And now some news about the digital talking books (DTBs): The new DTBs will be so much easier to use. Those of you who use the cassette books will find the new digital cartridges very familiar, as the design is similar to a cassette tape. The cartridges are about the same size as a cassette, and the flash drive that contains the recording of the book is embedded inside the cartridge. On one end is the finger-ring, which allows the cartridge to be easily inserted and removed from the cartridge slot on the machine. As mentioned above, the entire book is contained on a single cartridge, and the cartridge is “plug and play,” meaning that the reader only has to insert the cartridge into the slot, and it begins playing. The reader can press the “stop” button, take the cartridge out of the machine and put it back in, and even turn the machine off and back on, and the narration will pick up exactly where it was stopped. “Rewind” and “Fast Forward” buttons on the player allow the user to easily move back and forth in the book. The mailing case will also look and feel familiar. It will be thinner and the internal molding is different to accommodate the cartridge, but it still has the same snap latches and the same mailing card slot. The cases will be dark blue or gray.

We would like to caution you that we will not have a lot of DTBs, at first.  Because the National Library Service (NLS) did not get as much money from Congress as it had requested in its budget, NLS will not be able to produce as many DTBs as it had hoped to do so in these first years. Because of the shortage of DTBs, all TBP patrons will have a quota of only two or three books. All TBP patrons will need to read their DTBs and get them returned promptly so that all patrons will have a sufficient supply of books to read.  

What about the cassette players?:  We want to stress two very important things.  First of all, you do not have to give up your cassette player. Even if you are loaned a DTBM, you may still keep your cassette player. Secondly, do not send in your cassette player just because you have been issued a DTBM. 

Some of you have been very anxious about giving up your cassette player. Be assured that as long as we have cassette players to loan, we will issue one to any patron who wants one. We will continue to issue you a replacement machine when the one you have no longer works properly, after the defective machine is returned to us. Be aware, however, that NLS will stop producing cassette books in 2011, and thereafter, we may not be able to produce copies of new books or copies of older books. We will continue to produce copies of cassette books as long as we are able to purchase the cassette tape stock, and we will continue to loan the cassette books that we have in our library as long as they last. At some point in the future, however, the only audio-recorded books available from TBP will be on digital cartridges or as a download.

We encourage all of you to keep your cassette players, at least for the short term. With the shortage of DTBs expected to be ongoing for the next few years, the odds are high that a book you may want to read will only be available on cassette. Again, because of budget concerns, much of the NLS catalog may not be converted to digital or may not be converted for some time. This situation holds true for those of you who read magazines supplied by NLS. A small group of magazines is available on the BARD download site, but the majority of magazines will only be available on cassette for some time to come. 

Newsletter by email:  Do you want to receive our newsletter by email instead of on paper? If so, please call a reader consultant at 1-800-252-9605 or send an email to Tell us that you want to change your newsletter preference to email and give us your email address. The newsletter also is available on our web page at and on the toll-free information line at 1-866-388-6397.

Until next time,
Ava Smith, Director, Talking Book Program

The American Council of the Blind, Texas’ annual conference will be in San Antonio on September 18, 19 and 20. More information is at 210-492-4420 and

Call the Disability Information and Referral Center toll-free at
1-800-252-9605 for information about disabilities and health conditions.

Texas Talking Books will be closed for these holidays.

Texas Talking Books will be closed for Labor Day, September 7, 2009.
Of course, you can leave a message or send e-mail on a holiday.

Labor Day began in the early 1880s in New York and New Jersey. It is “a national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” The movement grew until 1894 when Congress set the holiday as the first Monday in September. Parades, speeches, and picnics are held to “pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership – the American worker.” (U.S. Department of Labor. “The History of Labor Day.” (Retrieved February 20, 2009.

TBP readers have been enjoying these four books. You may, too.

To order one of these books, call 1-800-252-9605 and ask for its number.

Skinny Annie Bluesby Neal Barrett, narrated by Ev Lunning
CT 05919
Freelance artist Wiley Moss is summoned to Galveston when the father he has not seen in nineteen years turns up dead. Wiley soon finds himself on a roller coaster ride that starts off with simple armed robbery, escalates to murder and could, if he's not very lucky, cost him his life. Contains strong language and descriptions of sex and violence.

White Fang   by Jack London
BR 09693, LB 00259 or RC 51689
A wolf-dog, rescued from danger and tamed by a kind master, defends his master’s family against an escaped convict. For junior and senior high and older readers. 

Quidditch Through the Ages by J.K. Rowling
BR 13500 or RC 52452  
A history of the game avidly enjoyed and played at Hogwarts School. Begins with the evolution of the flying broomstick – which Harry Potter excels at using. Discusses the Quidditch rules, famous teams of other centuries, and worldwide developments of the game. For grades 4 to 7.

Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless
RC 62529
Host of PBS’s Mexico – One Plate at a Time shares fifty recipes of complete meals. He discusses the guiding principles he follows when creating recipes: selecting the right one, paring back to its skeleton, streamlining steps, and maximizing the use of kitchen equipment.

Featured Author: John Cheever

John Cheever (1912-1982) wrote five novels and more than one hundred short stories, many published in The New Yorker magazine. He won the National Book Award, Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, and the National Medal for Literature by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. (“John Cheever” Retrieved April 30, 2009. His works often describe the inner conflicts people endure. To read and understand his long lasting popularity, call 1-800-252-9605 and ask for The Stories of John Cheever, RC 12496 or RC 65170. Some profanity.

NFB-Newsline offers free access to more than 280 newspapers and some magazines via a touch-tone telephone or computer. In Texas, there are 11 Texas papers including five in Spanish and TV listings. You can sign up for the program through TBP at 1-800-252-9605 or with NFB of Texas at 512-323-5444 in Austin or toll-free at 1-866-636-3289.

The Seeing Eye, the first guide dog organization, will have an 80th Anniversary Graduate Reunion in Morristown, New Jersey, on August 20 to 22. More information is available at .

Web Site Recommendations

From time to time, TBP staff will recommend a favorite Web site that is easily accessible and particularly informative or entertaining. The first in this series is National Public Radio’s “The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor.” It includes an excerpt or poem by the day’s featured writer along with short pieces about authors born on that day. Many TBP staff enjoy this everyday and want to share it with you. To read and listen to this fascinating Web site, click onto .

Digital Q&A

The next several issues of the newsletter will answer questions about the new digital books.

Q:  I am a veteran. Will I receive my digital talking book machine automatically, or do I need to get on the list?
A:  You must contact us and ask to be put on the list in order to receive a digital machine, even if you are a veteran.

Q. Do I have to have a digital machine?
A. No, you can choose if you would like to put your name on the list to get a new machine. It will take a while to complete the transition to digital format. If you prefer to continue using your current formats instead, you can do so for now. Even if you decide to get a digital machine, you can continue to use other formats as well.

Q: Do I need to return the cassette player when I get a new digital machine?
A:  No. Many books will continue to be available only on cassette. Also, magazines will still be on cassettes.  You may keep both machines and use both kinds of books.

Mention of a product or service in this news bulletin does not constitute endorsement by this library. Our intention is to increase an awareness of programs and items that may be helpful to our patrons.

Favorites from the 1930s to the 1960s

To read one of these books, call 1-800-252-9605 and ask for its number.

The Man With the Golden Arm by Nelson Algren
DB 51436, RC 09616 or RC 51436
(1949) Story of an ex-veteran and card dealer in Chicago’s underworld. Some strong language. National Book Award winner.

Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin
DB 33488 or RC 33488
(1952) A man’s flashback portrays the lives of his African-American ancestors.

The Stranger by Albert Camus
BR 01185, BR 10394 or RC 40902
(1946) Set in Algiers, a man does not react to his mother’s death, resists commitment, and becomes a passive prisoner after murdering a man.             

The Wapshot Chronicle by John Cheever
BR 11943, DB 63314, RC 12886 or RC 63314
(1957) Ribald, poignant chronicle follows the fortunes of the Wapshot family in a New England seaport. National Book Award winner. Some strong language.

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
BR 02922, RC 39507 or LB 01202
(1934) A fabled train stops in a snowstorm. Hercule Poirot sets out to uncover who murdered a man traveling under a false name.

Rebecca         by Daphne Du Maurier
BR 12354, DB 48914, LB 00964 or RC 48914
(1938) A second wife is caught in mystery and intrigue as she wonders what happened to her husband’s first wife, Rebecca.

The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
BR 08550, BR 14988, DB 56346, RC 09600 or RC 56346
(1947) A young black man examines and rejects the values thrust on him by both whites and blacks. Some strong language. National Book Award winner.

Giant          by Edna Ferber
DB 51155 or RC 51155
(1952)  An elegant Virginia woman marries a rich Texas rancher. They live in a rough and brash era making fortunes from cattle, oil, and cotton. Strong language.

The Case of the Moth-Eaten Mink by Erle Stanley Gardner
DB 19700, BR 03360 or RC 19700
(1952) Perry Mason and Della Street meet an angry restaurant owner just as a waitress walks out but leaves an old mink coat.

The Big Sky by A.B. Guthrie, Jr.
BR 14920, LB 00197, LB 03411 or RC 37502
(1947) Mountain men in the 1830s and 1840s penetrate, develop, and spoil the wilderness paradise that was the American West.

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
BR 01156, BR 13700, DB 55938, DB 12651, RC 12651 or RC 55938
(1961) A nurse kidnaps a man born on Mars to save him from exploitation from scientists, politicians, and the media. Some explicit descriptions of sex and some strong language.

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
BR 11980, DB 48063, LB 01027 or RC 48063
(1961) The comic adventures of World War II fliers caught in a web of ridiculous military practices. Strong language and descriptions of sex.

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
BR 01600, BR 10599, LB 00093 or RC 53792
(1952) An old Cuban fisherman hooks a giant marlin, after eighty-five days without a catch. He then battles sharks who try to deprive him of his triumph. Pulitzer Prize winner.

Hondo by Louis L’Amour
DB 53457, LB 04898 or RC 53457
(1953) A young woman and her son live on an isolated farm when Hondo appears. An Indian attack seems likely and he tries to convince them to leave.

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin
BR 00521, DB 61169 or RC 61169
(1967) Rosemary worries about her baby when she and her husband move into an apartment known for witchcraft, cannibalism, and suicide. Some explicit descriptions of sex.

Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
BR 12566 or RC 12364
(1956) A novel of an old and ingrown New England town. Murder, incest, and adultery are a few of its themes. Strong language and explicit descriptions of sex.

Sayonara by James A. Michener
DB 25169, LB 02899 or RC 25169
(1954) An American Air Corps major, engaged to a general’s daughter, meets and sets up housekeeping with a beautiful Japanese woman. Some strong language.

Appointment in Samarra by John O’Hara
BR 15398, RC 11656, or RC 58197
(1934) While most of the residents in this small town celebrate Christmas, one man begins a rapid descent toward self-destruction. Some strong language.

On the Beach by Nevil Shute
BR 01619, LB 03372 or RC 53090
(1957) After an atomic war in the Northern Hemisphere, nuclear fallout moves southward. Some Australians must choose how to live their final days.

The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone
DB 53802, RC 19356 or RC 53802
(1961) The life and loves of one of the world’s great artistic geniuses, Michelangelo, painter, sculptor, poet, architect, and engineer.

All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
BR 13840 or RC 53553
(1946) A Southern political boss starts as a back-country lawyer. He becomes governor with nearly absolute power. Pulitzer Prize winner. Strong language.

The Friendly Persuasion by Jessamyn West
BR 09135 or RC 39935
(1940) An Indiana Quaker minister and her husband face the threat of loss as they encounter the onset of the Civil War as it affects their family.

Exodus by Leon Uris
DB 25261 or RC 25261
(1958) A fictional history of European Jews from 1945 to the establishment of the state of Israel.

The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk
BR 08215
(1951) The crew of a U.S. Navy ship who mutinied during World War II, must prove their charges at a court-martial. Pulitzer Prize winner.

Talking Book Program
Texas State Library and Archives Commission
PO Box 12927
Austin TX 78711-2927
1-800-252-9605 (in Texas)
512-463-5458 (in Austin)
512-936-0685 (fax)

Page last modified: April 16, 2015