Talking Book News Bulletin, Fall 2014

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Books Worth Revisiting

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Director's Report

Greetings! Here is the latest news:

Happy 40th Anniversary! If you have spent some time as a member of the Talking Book Program (TBP) and have used the call center, chances are you have spoken with Linda or Doris, two of the reader
consultants. These ladies just celebrated their 40th year working for TBP. Hired within a few weeks of each other, Linda and Doris have worked side-by-side in the Reader Services call center all these years, answering phones and helping patrons with their reading needs. So, the next time you dial into the call center and hear one of them on the other end of the line, please thank them for their dedication to serving the patrons of TBP.

Those pesky batteries: Many of you have been complaining about the batteries in your Digital Talking Book Machines (DTBM). The main problem most of you are having is that your DTBM’s battery will not charge up to the “more than 29 hours” that it is supposed to hold (although it might tell you that it has that much power.) First of all, if your battery is holding at least 12 hours of charge, then National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) standards consider it a good battery. We recommend that you call us if the battery is not charging beyond 10 hours. If you are using a flash drive in the side USB port, the battery power available will register differently than if you are using a cartridge in the front slot of the DTBM.  A side device may cause the machine to register up to 30% less battery power. For those of you who have received a replacement DTBM from us and found that the battery failed as soon as you tried to use it, we hope that we now have a solution. For a long time, we had no way to check batteries, and the only way we had to charge batteries was the same way you have: plugging your DTBMs into wall outlets. We have now acquired a few adapters that allow us to use the old cassette battery chargers to charge DTBM batteries and tell us if they are still good. With the adapters, we actually can read the voltage and amps of each battery, and if those numbers are not at least 7.2 volts and 1,000 amps, then the battery is not useable. This process takes several hours for each battery, and lots of batteries need to be checked. Staff are slowly working their way through all the batteries in our inventory and removing those that do not make the benchmarks during charging. If you are having battery problems, please call a reader consultant at 1-800-252-9605 and make arrangements to receive a replacement DTBM. You will need to send your current DTBM back to us before we can send you the replacement machine.  

More books recorded by TBP are now available on BARD: We’ve uploaded more Texas recordings to BARD. Look for the BARD section of this newsletter to see the latest available books, or check the TBP blog for announcements.  If you have a BARD account, you may go to BARD and download these titles immediately. If you are interested in reading one of these titles in digital cartridge or another available format, please call 1-800-252-9605 or send an email to, and make a request.

Free currency readers available in 2015: The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) is working with the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) to make available free currency readers to those with qualifying visual disabilities. These readers are slated to be distributed in early 2015 and will be distributed by NLS and BEP. TBP will not have any of these currency readers to distribute, but at NLS’ request, we are keeping a waiting list of interested TBP members with visual disabilities. If you would like to be placed on the waiting list, please call 1-800-252-9605 or send an email to

Check those books before mailing them back: We are still receiving a lot of mailing cases with the wrong books in them.  Please double-check which book you put into which case before putting any of them in the mail. Cases are not interchangeable. Each case is specific to its cartridge. While we know that many of you listen to multiple books and magazines at the same time, we recommend that you only remove one book from its mailing case and then put it back in that case before you remove another book from another case. We want to get books to everyone in a timely manner, but this cannot happen when we don’t have all the pieces in the right places.  The next book that is delayed going out because part of it is missing may be the very book that you are waiting for!

Book club news:  The final book club event for 2014 will be a discussion of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald on November 13, 2014, at 7:00 p.m. To make a reservation, please call 1-800-252-9605 or send an email to

Helpful contact information for the Talking Book Program:

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

Disability News

Fall and winter months are good times to curl up with a magazine as well as a book. Magazines in Special Media is a National Library Service directory that features both the free magazines available from regional libraries like the Talking Book Program, as well as free and for-cost subscription magazines in alternative formats from other sources. Please contact the Disability Information & Referral Center (DIRC) at 800-252-9605, or e-mail if you would like to receive a free copy of Magazines in Special Media.  Copies are available in large print and on cassette. 


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

November 11 – Veterans Day
November 27 and 28 – Thanksgiving Day
December 24, 25 and 26 – Christmas
January 1, 2015 – New Year’s Day

Of course, you can leave a voicemail message or send e-mail on a holiday.

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 Upcoming Book Club Meeting

All you need to participate in Book Club is a telephone.  Please call 1-800-252-9605 or email to RSVP.  Dates are subject to change.


Book: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Date: November 13, 2014

Time: 7:00p.m.

First published in 1925, this classic is set in the ebullient Jazz Age of the 1920s. Wealthy Jay Gatsby strives desperately to recapture his past and his lost love, Daisy Buchanan. Gatsby's hedonistic pursuit of the American dream leads him to a tragic fate.  BR 00089; DB 16147; LB 00377


Books Worth Revisiting

 To Sail the Ocean Blue, Part II— The Adventures of Aubrey and Maturin


   In the genre of naval fiction, Patrick O’Brian’s stories featuring Captain Jack Aubrey and Dr. Stephen Maturin rank just behind C.S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower novels for devoted readers. The twenty-one novels (the final one unfinished) were published from 1970 to 2004. O’Brian (1914-2000) follows the highs and lows of Jack’s career in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars and of Stephen’s dual careers as ship’s surgeon and the Admiralty’s most successful spy. The books are noted for their historical accuracy, vivid depiction of the times, and excellent prose. O’Brian once commented that if he had known how extensive the series would become, he would have started Jack’s career much earlier so that he would have had much more naval material to work with. As it was, O’Brian based many of Jack’s exploits on the career of Admiral Lord Thomas Cochrane (1775-1860), a Scottish nobleman, who was likely also the model for Forester’s Hornblower. 

The books are written in chronological order and therefore should be read in that order. All twenty-one books are available for download from BARD.
You also can call 1-800-252-9605 and request any title on digital cartridge.


 1. Master and Commander (DB 33485): Having received command of his first ship, Jack Aubrey invites Stephen Maturin to become his ship’s surgeon.

 2. Post Captain (DB 33486): Jack uses his prize money to set up as a country squire.  Among his neighbors are the Williams sisters and their cousin Mrs. Villiers.

 3. HMS Surprise (DB 34524): Jack receives command of the Surprise, for what will be the first of several commissions with this beloved ship.

 4. The Mauritius Command (DB 33624): Jack has his first experience as a commodore on a lengthy voyage fighting the French all across the Indian Ocean.

 5. Desolation Island (DB 35183): Carrying prisoners bound for Australia, Jack and Stephen find their ship is marooned on Desolation Island.


 6. The Fortune of War (DB 34523): At the start of the War of 1812, Jack and Stephen are captured by the crew of the USS Constitution and sent to Boston.

 7. The Surgeon’s Mate (DB 34704): Having escaped American captivity, Jack and Stephen find themselves prisoners in France at the end of their next voyage.

 8. The Ionian Mission (DB 34705): Jack and Stephen are sent on a diplomatic mission to strengthen ties with Turkish rulers.

 9. Treason’s Harbor (DB 40043): While on Malta, Stephen becomes involved with the beautiful Mrs. Fielding, whose husband is a prisoner-of-war in France.


10. The Far Side of the World (DB 34925): Chasing the American frigate,

Norfolk, Jack and Stephen have several adventures in the South     Pacific.

11. The Reverse of the Medal (DB 40029): Jack is tricked into making questionable investments that jeopardize his career.

12. The Letter of Marque (DB 33625): Stephen comes into a fortune and buys the old Surprise, which he turns into a “king’s privateer” commanded by Jack.

13. The Thirteen-Gun Salute (DB 34099): Jack and Stephen deliver an insufferable envoy to Malaysia and settle scores with two enemies.

14. The Nutmeg of Consolation (DB 34706): Jack and Stephen arrive in Australia where they find an old shipmate among that country’s convicts.

15. The Truelove (DB 36021): Jack and Stephen depart Australia with two smuggled convicts aboard, one of them a woman who proves to be quite extraordinary.


16. The Wine-Dark Sea (DB 37428): An underground volcanic explosion is the last thing Jack and Stephen expect when the sea turns the color of wine.

17. The Commodore (DB 39897): Jack’s latest mission is to disrupt the slave trade and prevent Napoleon from invading Ireland.

18. The Yellow Admiral (DB 42910): At last, Jack may become an admiral, but with Napoleon imprisoned and the war over, he may be an admiral in name only.

19. The Hundred Days (DB 47466): Napoleon has escaped from Elba, and Jack and Stephen must intercept a gold shipment before it reaches Napoleon.

20. Blue at the Mizzen (DB 49105): After Waterloo, Jack and Stephen are dispatched to Chile to promote British interests.


21. 21: the Final Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey (DB 59838): Jack finally has become a rear-admiral and is bound once more for South America.


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: November 25, 2014