Bookshare.org is a new online service that offers more than 8,000 books in digital format for readers who are blind or visually impaired or have disabilities that impede the use of conventional print. Readers must have access to computers with assistive technology such as refreshable braille or synthetic speech and must pay a nominal subscription fee.
Bookshare.org relies on volunteers to submit electronic versions of books that have been scanned so they can be digitized and downloaded for the use of subscribers. The service takes advantage of the special exemption in the U.S. copyright law that permits the reproduction of publications in specialized formats with restricted access. Bookshare.org is sponsored by Benetech, a nonprofit company.
By providing a central repository, the same texts need not be scanned over again by each person who wants to use the material but, once scanned and uploaded, can be accessed immediately by any member of the service. Bookshare.org will make a vast library of low-cost books in alternative formats readily available--but, because the books are scanned by volunteers, the quality of the books it provides cannot be guaranteed. A rating of the technical quality of each book is available with each title. The current total of around 8,000 books is growing daily as members and volunteers submit new files.
U.S. residents who can provide proof of blindness, visual impairment, or other disabilities that prevent the use of print can subscribe to Bookshare.org with a one-time $25 sign-up fee and a $50 annual subscription charge. Individuals who are already registered to receive library service from NLS can provide their own certification by e-mail, providing the name of their cooperating library and authorizing Bookshare.org to verify their eligibility directly with NLS.
For more information about the service and subscription requirements, visit the Bookshare.org web site at www.bookshare.org.
NLS would like to remind patrons that program materials are the property of the United States Government and may not be sold. Such materials include not only playback machines, cassettes, containers, hardcopy braille books, but Web- Braille products as well. As stated in the "limitation of use" document on the main Web-Braille page, "output from these files may not be sold under any circumstances." Violation of these limitations may result in suspension of Web-Braille privileges.
The following announcements may be of interest to readers. The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped reserves the right to publish announcements selectively, as space permits. Items mentioned, however, are not part of the NLS program, and their listing does not imply endorsement.
The iNetNow access plan costs $19.95 per month. The base price includes all e-mails with a 400-character limit per call and most information requests. Some premium services, including application forms, are billed at $0.99 per minute. Substantial incentive reward discounts are available to subscribers who refer new customers.
To register, get further information, or sign up for a free trial, phone 1-888-855-8555 or visit the web site www.inetnow.com.
The following additional information is reprinted from Talking Book Topics, July-August 2002.
New Choices: The Magazine for Your Health, Money & Travel ceased publication after the May 2002 issue. A replacement will be considered.
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