Reading Apps and Gadgets

From standalone reading hardware, like the Victor Reader Stream, to your phone, tablet or braille display, there are a number of accessible reading options. We also covered a wide variety of book sources, including Bookshare, BARD, Kindle, Audible and OverDrive.

June 25, 2019

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Audio Transcript


Tech It Out – Reading Apps and Gadgets

Presented by Ricky Enger

June 25, 2019

Ricky Enger: All right everyone, welcome to Tech It Out for the month of June. So very happy that all of you could join us. If you've never been to a Tech It Out before, I'm glad that you chose tonight to join because tonight happens to be one of my favorite topics. The way that Tech It Out works is that we take a topic and each month, we come together for an hour as a community. I start out by giving some general information about the topic, and then we open it up for questions and comments and learn from each other about the topic that we've chosen.

This month again, is absolutely one of my favorites. We are talking about reading. And anyone who knows me even casually knows that I could talk about reading without breaking a sweat for more than an hour, but we're going to keep it to an hour this time. Let's talk reading. And specifically, we're going to talk about reading hardware, reading apps, and sources that you might get your books from.

Now, there are actually a number of things that we could talk about here. Some of those things we're not going to touch on as much as others. For example, we're not really going to cover as much the scanning of books to text. And we're not going to cover sources for hardcopy books, even though both of those topics are really, really important. We're only going to touch on those things briefly. So the other thing to keep in mind is that as a community, we're kind of from different places in terms of where we are, and how much we might know about reading.

So for some people, this is absolutely new to them. And so I'm going to cover some things that are really important for those people to know. And those of you that are a little more seasoned might say, “Oh, no, why are we talking about that?” Don't worry, though, we'll get to great stuff for you guys as well. So with all that out of the way, let's jump right in.

Hardware, a lot of different ways that we can read books using hardware. So kind of a specific device, which you're going to use to read. One of the most often talked about devices that many many people know about is the NLS digital talking book reader. The cool thing about this particular reader is that it's free, it does play books from the National Library Service, which we'll talk about in just a bit for those of you who don't know what that is, and it's something that you can actually receive from your talking book library. So it's not a thing that you have to buy. And you have the ability to keep that in your home and read books with it, which is fantastic.

The downside I suppose to this unit, is that it's fairly big. You're not going to put it in your pocket, but it sounds great as a desktop book reader, that's what it was made for. And it does a fantastic job with that. Something that is a bit more portable is the Victor line of products. So you've got the Victor Reader Stream, or the Victor Reader Trek, which is super cool because it is both a GPS device and a book reader. It has all sorts of cool things on it in that you can download podcasts to it. You can listen to radio stations on it, and of course, you can listen to books from National Library Service, Bookshare, Audible, all of these different books, resources that we'll be talking about in just a bit. You can play on this much smaller, portable reading machine.

There's something similar from BookSense called. It's called the BookSense from HIMS. The latest unit is called the Blaze I believe they call it the BookSense Blaze and it's a tiny book reader as well and does the same thing that the Victor Reader Stream does. The thing I like about these portable readers is that yes, they are portable. You can put them in your pocket, you can clip them to your belt. You can walk around the house doing dishes as you are listening to whatever books that you have loaded there.

You don't always want to read an audio though. Some of us really enjoy braille. And so there is certainly the possibility of reading with braille using either a dedicated note taker or a braille display that its primary function might be a braille display, but it can receive files that you can read on it. So lots of different ways to read in braille with a standalone unit that isn't connected to anything else.

Then, of course, there are those things that you might connect a braille display to, or you might simply allow them to read to you using their built-in speech. So these are things like your iOS and Android phones or tablets, or even the Kindle Fire from Amazon, which is a tablet but, of course, it is really great with reading books because it's a Kindle. And the Amazon Kindle has long been known as a book reading device. So it's kind of no surprise that, oh, cool, the Kindle Fire actually does quite well with this.

Those are the devices that you might use to read books. But where do you get them? Where do you get these books that you want to read? Thankfully, we live in a wonderful, wonderful time where there are literally millions of books on hand. As a matter of fact, there is a service called Bookshare, who has just within the last month or so added the millionth book to its collection. Super cool. So there are different reasons that we might want to read or perhaps might need to read. What do we do if we need textbooks or something for school or something that we need to learn from? Where can we get textbooks?

There are a couple of places that are specifically for textbooks, such as Learning Ally. This used to be known as RFBND. So, that's Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic. It's now called Learning Ally, and it has audio books that have been read by volunteers and these are textbooks. So if you're in college, or perhaps in high school, I certainly did this in middle school, high school, and college. I had a textbook which was not in braille, but it was available for free through Learning Ally.

VitalSource Bookshelf is another really great resource for textbooks. And this is actually a mainstream company with a dedication to accessibility. So they provide books to all students, they just happen to have a mind towards making sure that what they do provide is accessible as well. These are textbooks for purchase, and you're able to read them on all sorts of platforms like your iOS and Android phones on your PC, even in a browser. So you don't even have to use an application. If you don't want to, you can just open this book that you own in your browser and read it.

There are sources for public domain books. There are lots of sources for these books that are no longer in copyright, meaning that they're freely available to everyone to download. So an example might be if you had to read Of Mice and Men for school, or perhaps Beowulf, or there's any number of really great public domain books that are available and one of the probably most well-known places for this is Project Gutenberg. We will have links to all these things in our show notes. So once you're thinking about, hey, what was that thing that she mentioned? That's available in the show notes over at, and you can check out all the resources mentioned in this episode.

So what about for general reading? If you're a student, you want to relax at the end of the day. If you have a job, you want to relax at the end of the day. If you're like me, you want to read and relax all the time, no matter what your other responsibilities are. So where can we go to get all of these wonderful books? I've mentioned the National Library Service. This is a collection of books that are specifically for those who are blind and print disabled. The cool thing about this is that both braille and audio books are available, assuming that you're eligible for the services. And you can download those things on your phone, or on a portable reading device on your braille display, of course, and naturally on the NLS talking book player.

This is truly a library in that it has books for fiction, nonfiction, there are some textbooks. There are pretty much any subject that you can think of, you can download from this library. If you are like me, and you always had this dream of, wouldn't it be super cool if I could browse every book on the shelf and just pick this one and that one and that one and download them? You can do that with the NLS service, you're able to browse for books, you can search for books, in either audio or braille format depending on what it is that you're looking for. And many of the books now are actually coming from commercial services, rather than being read in-house by NLS narrators.

Bookshare is another example of a book repository and this one is a little different. Whereas the NLS books are free once you have been deemed eligible, Bookshare, you're going to pay a little bit for that unless you are a student, in which case, you get a discount. And I think in some cases, it's actually free to students. So you want to check out if you haven't signed up for it yet and just determine what you might be eligible for.

The great thing about Bookshare is that it was initially built on books that were scanned in by volunteers. So these are in text rather than being audio recordings. And people would take a great deal of time to get a book and put that book on a scanner and scan it page by page and allow those pages to be recognized with OCR and turn that into readable text. What has happened in the past few years is that publishers have recognized the importance of making books available to those who are blind or low vision.

And so with that they have made arrangements with Bookshare meaning that number one, we don't need as many people spending time scanning in these titles. And number two, often a book is available on the day of its release. So if you've ever experienced that frustration of, my oh my, I am so looking forward to this next book in the series. But I know that it's going to take four months to come to BARD. And BARD, again is the National Library Service. So it's going to take four months to get there or it's going to take until someone scans it into Bookshare. No, with these partnerships with publishers now we see these books being added immediately. And you can download these in a number of different formats including Microsoft Word format, a format that can be read by the text to speech option on your portable book player, you can get it on EPUB, and you can get it in BRF format for your braille display or note taker.

Audible. This is an Amazon owned company and it is a mainstream option. So some of these things, again are specifically for blind and low vision users who would like to read books. And some of these are options available to everyone and they just happen to be accessible for us as well. So Audible is one such service and it has exclusively audiobooks. So these are not text. These are read by commercial narrators. And you can access them, either by subscribing to Audible and purchasing one credit per month, which can go toward a book or two credits per month. And those things don't have to be spent immediately.

So your membership, you can accrue credits and have say six or I think 12 is the limit that you get in your account before you really need to start spending them otherwise you lose them. But you can do it this way. Or you can say you know, I really don't want to be a member of Audible, I would rather purchase my audio books only when I want them and I'd rather not pay the monthly fee. And that's an option as well. So with Audible, you can play these books on your portable players, you can play them on your tablets and phones. Whatever it is that you generally use for reading books, most likely, you're going to be able to use Audible for that as well.

You can even play it on your computer if you like. I don't do that because I feel like, gosh, I don't want to be tied with headphones to my computer, if I can walk around and have the book read to me as I'm doing other things and that's just kind of what I prefer. But the great thing is that there are so many options that everyone can approach this in their own way.

Kindle is another Amazon... I don't want to say sponsored but we'll say Amazon-owned book option. And Kindle is quite nice as well because it too can be read on your phone or your tablet. There is an app for the PC and the Mac as well. And the nice thing about Kindle, along with some of these other options, such as Bookshare, or anything where you're reading actual text is that if you're blind, you can use text to speech to read this. If you're low vision and you still prefer to read that text on the screen, you can do that. There are options to enlarge the font or to change your contrast settings such that it's still comfortable for you to read in your preferred medium.

That's true for platforms like Google Play Books, which is yet another place that we can acquire books. Books for iOS and the Mac. This used to be called iBooks. So for Kindle, Google Play Books, and just Books, which I still want to call iBooks because it just, I'm accustomed to that and plus it denotes that it is for iOS and Mac. But in any case, for these three things, you will be purchasing books directly, except for Kindle Unlimited, and we'll perhaps touch on that when we open things up for questions. But in general, you're going to be purchasing these books such that you own them, rather than a case like OverDrive, where you're simply borrowing the book.

So let's talk just a tiny bit about OverDrive. We actually had a few requests to cover this particular service, people writing in before the show. And of course, you're welcome to do that for any future Tech It Out that you have comments on. And you can send an email to, and I'll be happy to cover your question or comment if I can. So in any case, OverDrive a lot of people asking about this one. And of all the things that I happen to know about books, this is one where I don't have a great deal of information. So I will describe the concept, and we have a couple of people in the audience that will reach out to you just a bit later expand on OverDrive.

So OverDrive really takes the concept of a traditional library and pulls it into the digital age. What happens is that each of your public libraries has the rights to certain books, right? So they own some physical books, and they're able to loan those books out, and then you check them back in. And hopefully you don't wait too long, otherwise, you're going to get lots of fines racking up. They've done something similar with the digital copies of these books. They have obtained the rights to loan out a set number of digital copies of the book, which are checked out just as if they were a physical copy. And then the reader will check that book back in when they're done.

OverDrive has both audio and text available. And you essentially can sign up using your email address or your Facebook account or what have you. You will need a library card though from the library that you'd like to check out your book from. OverDrive is pretty cool in that it's available on multiple platforms as most of these other things are. So you can read on your PC, you can read on your iOS and Android devices, and pretty much anywhere that you want to do that.

So OverDrive is great, but I currently don't have a library card. And I admit that I was a little hesitant to work with OverDrive, because I had heard from a number of people, “Oh my gosh, it's just so difficult.” And I thought, “Oh, it can't be that bad. But I'll get to it next week.” And it's been a couple of years. And I never got to it next week. So I'm glad we have a community who has the knowledge that I don't, who can share with everyone how these things work.

So we've just spent a lot of time talking about so many different ways to read. You've got the National Library Service BARD with all of your audio book needs. You can get Bookshare for reading just digital text. You've got OverDrive, you have Learning Ally, and VitalSource and all of these and really, we've just scratched the surface. But these are all things that are available to us. We have a great deal at our fingertips. And I can remember, even 10 to 15 years ago, this landscape looked very, very different. And we would often have to wait quite a while to get our hands on a book that we might want to read.

But if we have all of these sources for books, now it's a case of, wow, there are so many choices. I don't even know where to start. So how do you go about looking for what you might want to put on your bookshelf next? I'll mention a couple of things here, and I suspect that we'll find out about several more once we open things up for questions. The first one I want to mention is called Goodreads. And it's a website, as well as an app. And essentially, the service is a collection of reviews of books. It's books that have been at least somewhat related to each other in that, if you've read this, you might get a recommendation to read this other similar book.

And what I like best about Goodreads is that you can add your friends. So there's a bit of a social media aspect to it. Each of you can see the others' reviews, you can see what your friends are reading. And that in itself can sometimes be an incentive to pick up a book. “Oh, so and so is reading that, we have similar tastes, I will pick up that book as well.” There are even reading challenges. So you can say to yourself, I want to read 50 books this year, I want to read 125 books this year, which is the challenge that I've set for myself. And the app will track your progress and your friends can cheer you on, they can like your challenge and you can do the same for them. So Goodreads is a nice kind of social networking platform, that you can discover new books and share what you're reading with others.

The last resource that I want to mention in terms of figuring out what to read next is actually called What to Read Next. So it's just a website, And the way that this works is that you type in a book that perhaps you've just read, or a book that you fallen in love with. And What Should I Read Next will give you books that appear to be similar to that, in that they have similar themes. They have perhaps a similar setting, perhaps a similar writing style. So there's a lot that kind of goes into the service, which makes these recommendations and it's all done behind the scenes. So there's not a human sitting there, at least not that we know of kind of picking these things out for you. But it does work quite well if you're trying to figure out what you should tackle next. And you feel like you've already read all of this one author and your friends have no ideas for you. So it's a nice place to go to, to look at that kind of thing.

And with that, I have come to the end of the things that I absolutely wanted to share with you guys. We actually had some great chat before the recording started. And so I know that there's lots of resources that the community will share, as well. So it's time to do that now. So we're first going to go to Eight Bit with the question, or perhaps a comment.

Gary: Yeah, my name is Gary. And I've talked to you before the show and I was mentioning Bookshare. And I want to mention for the communities of those that might not be aware of it. I've had an Android and now I have an Apple and I'm using the Voice Dream Reader for that. And I found that the books Voice Dream Reader were low in dimension. And I found that the iOS version of Voice Dream Reader is to superior to the Android version, because of the VoiceOver rotor and some of the things you can do with that. Plus, it gives you quite a few more tools to work with than the Android version of Voice Dream Reader.

Ricky Enger: Thank you so much. I appreciate that. And for those of you who are not familiar with Voice Dream Reader, this is a wonderful app that can load the books that you've downloaded into this app and have them read aloud. They're voices for purchase. So sometimes, you may not like the voice that comes with your iPhone or your Android device, you might want something a little more high quality. And so you're able to use that and load this book that you've downloaded into the reader and have a lot of nice controls over what you're reading and how you're [inaudible]. So that's Voice Dream Reader.

Speaker 3: I got a couple comments about Voice Dream.

Ricky Enger: Sure, go ahead blind educator. Comment about Voice Dream.

Speaker 3: For the voiceless, the voiceless are only for the iOS, because Android has, you can purchase voices for quality voices to use for Voice Dream Reader on that. And on the Android version, if you want to select characters of words like an iOS, depending on the version of Android, you have a minute to switch your navigation if you want to select a character, the character by a character to find, I guess a [inaudible] of a word just like picking one the rotor of the iPhone.

Ricky Enger: Excellent.

Let's go next to Mark. I mentioned that I would call on Mark because he has some wonderful information about OverDrive. So, Mark.

Mark: I'm right here. Hi, can you hear me okay?

Ricky Enger: Yes. Go right ahead.

Mark: Okay. So there's a couple of things I was thinking about as we were talking. Now, in addition to what you were saying, I want to go over something with about Goodreads. The first thing is, the developers have been very good with screen readers for both Apple and Android. And a couple of things to note. This is just general information, but the first time you open up this app every day, some people have asked me, “Well, what does Goodreads get out of this?” Right? So the purpose for Goodreads is to sell books. And so that they have a lot of advertising.

But if you have a screen reader, and if you come across an ad on your display, there will be a close button. And so for people using screen readers, we don't have to be bombarded by the advertisement because they know that can impede the screen reader. So that's a nice new feature that they've added. Usually when you open it, and this happens every day, you have to close one ad at least once a day. You'll get used to it by default to throw that out there. But this is how they make money by selling books.

Ricky Enger: Right.

Mark: And what Ricky, what you were saying, of course, the social aspect. Another thing about Goodreads I find interesting is that not only can you connect with your friends, but if you want to find people who would like the same book as you, you can go to the book page. It takes some practice. And I know that when we cover these kinds of things in 30 minutes or 20 minutes, there's no way people can come away and understand how to do this. I think the best thing, and Ricky you probably agree with me is just to know that it exists and then you can learn how to do it on your own time.

Ricky Enger: Exactly. Yeah.

Mark: Right. But you can in fact, you don't have to just connect with your friends. If you liked a certain book, like the Hunger Games or anything you want go to that book page. And there is a way a mechanism in the app. If it's more easy ... I think it's easier in the apps than on the website. But you can find other people who have either read the book or a currently reading it so you can connect with them, kind of a virtual book club. And I found that very useful and kind of exciting, because it's rare that anybody in my immediate group of friends are reading the same book as I am. So that's kind of neat. Okay, so throw that out there.

Now, as for the OverDrive, here's the thing. There are two major software platforms for public libraries in this country, the main one, the granddaddy of them all, if you will, is definitely OverDrive. But there is a competitor called Cloud Library. And a lot of major libraries are either switching licenses to go over because it's cheaper. And they recently got some major cities. So depending on which city you're in, when it comes to public library, the first thing you'll need to do is ask your library which service they use. Most of them are going to use OverDrive, but not all of them. Major cities like, let's see. Thinking of New York, maybe not. I know San Diego, some of the major cities have started switching to Cloud Library.

The good news is, is that Cloud Library has made it their mission to be screen reader accessible. So just keep that in mind. If your library says hey, we don't use OverDrive, it doesn't mean you can't download a book. It's just they use the Cloud Library. Those are the only two that I'm aware of. Okay, so let me say one more thing and then I'll cover just a little bit more about OverDrive. I don't want to hog it Ricky. It's so much to get into such a short time, right?

Ricky Enger: I know.

Mark: You really should do a podcast on just the Public Library app because it takes too long. But I do want to say this. I want everybody to remember that in Apple Books, Google Play Books, Kindle, there's enormous free titles in all of these services. And so I don't want people thinking the ones we've mentioned. But I'm amazed at the number of free classic titles and current titles. A lot of times, you will find a lot of budding new and upcoming authors will post their first or even second or third novels, short stories, whatever for free so they can build an audience. And this is how they actually get an audience. And so don't ignore that. When you go to your platform of choice, let's say, you should always explore the free section just to see what's out there.

Okay, having said that, now going back to OverDrive. So I think one of the biggest problems, and OverDrive is very much aware of this, the developers, which are based in Ohio, they are aware of this. I think the reason some people have problems with it is because we have what's called screen bleed, Ricky, you know what that is.

Ricky Enger: Yup.

Mark: And so, the buttons are there, but if you don't touch exactly on the buttons, you still get text from, let's say, a screen that's down to it, three levels down, but the screen reader, they haven't coded it correctly. So you may think you're on the play button, when the play button really a sighted person can't even see it. So this is why it takes a little bit longer to learn OverDrive. And they're working on it. They don't make a lot of money at this. So a lot of their employees are volunteers and that's an answer to a lot of questions right there.

They're trying to make good on this on a program called Libby. I'm not going to attempt to tell people how to download books in this short time, but I will say this, it is completely accessible. But it does take practice and my experience has been, it's when somebody walks you through it once, you'll never forget how to do it. But I think for a totally blind person, it is a challenge to do it without knowing where the buttons are. But it is accessible, and they're making some great strides. But Ricky, if you ever want to do a podcast or a show on just that, we can have a lot of fun with it.

Ricky Enger: We could indeed. You've just volunteered yourself.

Mark: Yeah, I did. And it's not just low vision and blind people believe me. I have a lot of senior citizens. They download it and it's confusing, but it's only because it's just new, right? Everything is hard until it's not. Right?

Ricky Enger: Exactly.

Mark: And I want to ... Can I share one more thing, Ricky that you might ... I want to know if you do this because I certainly do.

Ricky Enger: One more.

Mark: Okay, real quick, less than a minute. I find that I love Audible, but the thing I like about OverDrive is that it allows me to keep a book for 21 days, right? And if I really like it, I may buy it. But it's nice, it's a fun way to explore commercially produced books without being committed to spending any money. Okay, I'm done thank you.

Ricky Enger: And that's actually a great point is that there are things that we want to own and there are things that we want to check out. It's a right just as we would want anyone else to have the right to check out a book from a library and then to monetarily support the authors that we really-

Mark: Exactly.

Ricky Enger: ... [crosstalk] on our shelves. So fantastic. Thank you, Mark. [crosstalk] free resource.

Mark: Yes, ma'am. You're welcome.

Ricky Enger: So Dina looks like you are up next.

Dina: Yeah, hi, can you hear me?

Ricky Enger: Yep.

Dina: Okay. Great. And so I work for the Texas Talking Book program, which is a Regional Library of the National Library Service. I just wanted to clarify that NLS does not have textbooks. We have recreational reading materials. But what we would also have is, if you're a student, and there's any required reading, for example, if you needed to read Where the Red Fern Grows, or The Handmaid's Tale, or something like that, we would have books like that. But we don't have traditional textbooks. When people call us and ask about textbooks, we do refer them to Learning Ally and to Bookshare. So just wanted to let you all know that. But we do have basically all the recreational reading that you would find in a local public library. We are free, and our books are human voice recording. They're not computer voice. So thank you for letting me put that plug in.

Ricky Enger: Absolutely. Thank you. And I'm glad you joined us. It's cool to have an actual representative from NLS. I always thought that those who actually worked in library service, I would have done that in an alternate universe so, thanks.

Dina: That's great. I also wanted to let everybody know, I think that this announcement has gone out but in October, NLS will be changing its name from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped to National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled.

Ricky Enger: Excellent.

Dina: And I think that's a much better name.

Ricky Enger: I absolutely agree with you. That is great news. And-

Sean: Ricky, this is ... oops, I apologize, I did not mean to interrupt you.

Dina: Oh, no problem.

Sean: Okay. I just want to comment really quickly. This is Sean, I just want to comment on the subject of textbooks. I recently graduated from college with a certain [inaudible] support services and help desk. And what I found is that if you want textbooks from Learning Ally, or Bookshare, what I found with at least with my program, I could not rely on Learning Ally or Bookshare because they just didn't have the textbooks that I really wanted. And so what I actually ended up using was VitalSource. And VitalSource is now renamed Bookshelf. And they've definitely taken some time to commit to accessibility, which is wonderful. There's a text to speech option you can choose to read.

And just really quick on Kindle. It's not, at least on the Kindle Fire tablet, I would not recommend reading textbooks, like on the Kindle Fire. Other books will work fine. You can read from them from the Amazon Echo or whatever. But with textbooks because of copyright issues, I believe I'm saying this correctly, because of copyright issues, Kindle just does not work very well at all with textbooks.

Ricky Enger: So are you referring to the fact that, and yeah, this is still a thing. With Kindle in particular, there are some books that have text to speech in bold and some which do not as a copyright restrictions?

Sean: Correct. Yes, yes, that is exactly what I'm referring to. The textbook that I was reading, it did not have that. And let me tell you, I fell asleep a lot of times trying to read the Kindle book. But anyway. Yeah.

Ricky Enger: Thank goodness for Bookshelf. Bookshelf is truly a fantastic platform. And again, this is a mainstream platform that has a great deal of commitment to accessibility. And so for students like Sean, where you need a book for a particular semester. But if it hasn't been produced yet, but you need it immediately, then the ability to purchase this book as any other student would, is extremely important. So thanks for mentioning that.

Sean: No problem at all.

Ricky Enger: Yeah, absolutely. Let's go to the phone with 385 has their hand up. 385, you have a question or comment?

Renee: Hi, Ricky, my name is Renee, how are you?

Ricky Enger: I am great.

Renee: Good. I want to talk about Kindle Unlimited. I know we've talked about it, but I use it on my iOS phone. And even though I had to learn a couple finger movements to read like a novel, I like to read a lot of historical novels, historical romance, or historical novels. And what I like is, with the Kindle Unlimited, you can't rent every book. But you can rent a number of books for $9.99 or $10.66 a month. And you could rent up to 10 at a time, and then send one back and rent another one. So I really liked that option because there's so many authors, especially in my genre, the things that I'm interested in, that I never even heard about from BARD or NLS.

Ricky Enger: Right.

Renee: I'm not saying that's the best, but sometimes you got to kind of settle or you got to kind of make your peace with things. But I'm an old gal and I can go back to the days in the 60s, where there was nothing, when I was a child. So you know what I'm saying? So this is amazing having these opportunities and these resources and I like Kindle Unlimited. And Amazon will help you sign up for Kindle Unlimited for $10.66 a month. And you could read as many books as you have the time to read.

Ricky Enger: And that, again, is a fantastic resource. So you can certainly read more books with Kindle Unlimited than you can if you're subscribing to Audible and get perhaps one or two credits a month. But it all depends on what your preferences, where you want to read, the kinds of things that you want to read. And I agree with you, I remember the days of nothing, and I would read whatever they happen to [crosstalk] it was a genre that I hated, I would still be like, but it's a book, I have to read it. And now we have more books than we know what to do with. I love it.

Renee: And I think another thing, what's great about the Kindle Unlimited is if there's an audible companion that's available, sometimes you can listen to it for free, not all the time. Sometimes if you have Audible, if there is a companion in Audible format, sometimes they will allow you to listen to it for free, I guess they choose what they allow you to listen to for free.

Ricky Enger: Yeah. Which ones you can and which ones you can't. And to be clear, the audible companion is sometimes you can buy a Kindle book, sometimes you can buy an Audible book and have access to its counterpart, so Kindle or Audible. And this is useful if perhaps you are reading on your Kindle Fire in braille maybe some of the time, and then you want to fall asleep. And you have the book on your phone and you just want to hear the commercial narrator. And so this is a way that you can read the same book in two different formats depending on what is most convenient for you at any given time.

Renee: Well, that's great. Thank you, Ricky.

Ricky Enger: Thank you so much for your comments. We next have Bill’s iPhone with a question. Bill’s iPhone, got a question? Give you just one second? There you go. Are you there?

Bills iPhone: Yes.

Ricky Enger: Yeah, there you are.

Bills iPhone: I would like to know. I live outside the US in Kenya. And I would like to know if I could be eligible to become a member of the NLS service.

Ricky Enger: I know that, I believe the NLS service does not allow membership outside of the US. I believe Bookshare is different though. Does anyone have more up to date knowledge than I have for accessing these free services outside the United States?

Mark: This is Mark. If I remember correctly, I believe if you are a family member of a military person but serving over abroad, they make an exception. But unless you have some affiliation with the United States or one of its territories.

Ricky Enger: Territories, right.

Mark: Yeah, I believe that's right.

Ricky Enger: Yeah, and so [crosstalk]-

Mary Beth.: I think-

Ricky Enger: Go ahead.

Mary Beth: It's whether or not you're an American citizen, I think it also figures into that. If you're born here and you go away for six months or something, you agree with NLS that if you live in another country as of this moment, you can't have access to NLS just the same as we can't have access…we can't download books from say like the Royal Nationalists too for the blind in England at the moment. Maybe we will be able to assume we're hoping all hope in about the Marrakesh Treaty. I'm sorry, this is Mary Beth. But at the moment, no, but Bookshare. Yeah, Bookshare is good.

Ricky Enger: Yep. So Bookshare is an option for you. And that is, there is a fee to join Bookshare, but it's very, very reasonable. So Bookshare is an option for you along with some of the other things that we've mentioned, such as Kindle Unlimited or purchasing Kindle books. Google Play has books as well. And as Mark mentioned previously, Google Play Books, iBooks, Kindle…

Mark: Kindle, yeah. It's there. Free sections.

Ricky Enger: ... [crosstalk] free titles.

Mark: And one more thing, he said he's in Kenya, Ricky, so I'm thinking you should check with RNIB because they have some reciprocal agreements with certain countries in Africa and places. So he should check with the RNIB. They have a great resource center.

Ricky Enger: Yes. And I do have-

Denise: [crosstalk] please.

Ricky Enger: Sure, go right ahead. I was going say I don't have the RNIB's website handy, but it will be in the show notes. And that's an excellent idea to check that out. We had one more comment there?

Denise: Yes, this is Denise, can you hear me?

Ricky Enger: Yes, ma'am.

Denise: Yes, I almost forgot what I was going to say. First of all, I want to thank you for the group. I think it's a very nice thing to have. Second of all, I want to comment on the Goodreads. There's been time when I have rated a book on Goodreads and an author has contacted me.

Ricky Enger: Wow.

Denise: And spoke with me in reference to that book. And sometimes they'll even ask you for suggestions. And then the other thing I wanted to comment on the Kindle Unlimited has a category now just for narrations. So if you look in your Kindle Unlimited, now, there's about 45,000 books just for audio narration, and they have their own category now for that.

Ricky Enger: Interesting.

Speaker 12: This is Lisa with a comment?

Ricky Enger: Yep, go ahead.

Lisa: Actually, I have three. I'm sorry to barge in as a co-host, I could not find where I could raise my hand. Yeah, funny how that works. Okay, so three quick comments, there is an app on iOS, I don't know that it's available on other platforms, it's not really actively being developed. But there are other things like it. This is called Tell Me When, and you can put in an author's name. And so you can see when your favorite author is going to release books. And you can add those to your wish list. They also have tabs where you can search for music and things, but I don't find that they work as reliably.

Regarding Bookshare, there are several ways to get a free membership if you can't afford the cost of one. Unfortunately, I only know of resources available in the US. But many of the state libraries for the blind will provide you a free membership. Some of the state agencies do that as well. Finally, regarding Kindle Unlimited, if you want to try it, and you're not sure that it is for you, you can get a free 30 day trial, you do need to provide billing information. So after your 30 days, you need to either keep track of it or just kind of smile and let it bill your credit card.

Ricky Enger: Yeah, pretty much. Do they send you a reminder before those 30 days are up? You might want to put that in [crosstalk].

Lisa: I can tell you that by about July 11th.

Denise: They do send you a reminder.

Ricky Enger: They do [crosstalk].

Denise: You can even pick a day to be reminded.

Ricky Enger: Oh, that's perfect. Thank you for that. So Kindle Unlimited 30 day trial. That's amazing. Most of the services give you seven days. So 30 is the entire month and just to see how that works for you. Mitchell, let's take you next for a question. We're approaching the end. So got time for just one, maybe two more?

Mitchell: Can you hear me?

Ricky Enger: Yes.

Mitchell: All right, so I was wondering if, like the call today or whatever it's called, if there's like a podcast or somewhere where you can find it and like rewatch it.

Ricky Enger: Yes. So that is available, it's on our website, That's T-E-C-H-I-T-O-U-T, and you'll see all of the past episodes. There's a place that you can subscribe if you're using a podcatcher podcast reader or whatever you want to call it. And you can check out past episodes, this one will be available usually within a week to 10 days of the initial presentation. All right so-

Mitchell J.: I used Apple podcast.

Ricky Enger: Okay, yes.

Mitchell J.: I also was going to say, I'm getting signed up for BARD right now. I just need a part where like the bottom, the last part of the form where like a librarian or someone has to sign it. I was wondering, who all can sign ... can a VI teacher sign it or it would have to be like-

Ricky Enger: I-

Dina: I can jump in here.

Ricky Enger: That's what I was actually hoping. Thanks [crosstalk].

Dina: Yes, if you have a vision impairment, it can be a doctor, a nurse, a low vision specialist, a librarian, it can even be a member of the clergy. So if you attend a church, you can get your clergymen to sign it. Really, it's only if you have a reading or a learning disability, that it has to be a medical doctor. So yeah.

Mitchell: [crosstalk]. I'm completely blind.

Dina: So a VI, a teacher can absolutely certify the application for you definitely.

Mitchell: Great. And then like, so I emailed the people about BARD trying to figure out how to sign up. And they said I can scan it, in fact, and they gave me their factory number. So after you fax it to them, is there a certain amount of time it takes until you can get your account and start getting books?

Dina: Yeah, usually once you send in the application. Now, it could be that every Talking Book library is a little bit different. But in Texas, we serve the whole state of Texas. So it keeps us very busy. So it usually takes about 10 days to two weeks for us to process the application and give the person a call and go over it with them. Depending on where you live that maybe a shorter time. And once you are a patron, then you can sign up for BARD. And that's basically just setting up a name and password. And somebody from your Talking Book library should be able to help you get your BARD account set up. And then if you want to read on your phone or on a tablet, you can download the free app. And yeah, so they should be able to talk to you through how to do all that. But it does take a couple of weeks [crosstalk] tops, to process the application.

Elizabeth: I'm ready to speak. I'm sorry, guys. I didn't mean to interrupt. This is Elizabeth from Virginia. I use Bookshare through Hadley. I get that through you guys.

Ricky Enger: Got you. Yeah. And I'd like to thank all of you who contributed with such wonderful information, such great questions. It's always a pleasure to come in and learn from you all. I hope each of you learned from me and from each other as well. Thank you so much for joining. And again, with any questions. Check out our other discussion groups as well because we've got lots of cool ones. Thanks for joining us.