Hachette Book Group on May 29 announced plans to provide unabridged audiobook recordings for free to the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), a division of the Library of Congress (LOC). Select backlist and new titles, including new releases, will be available through NLS’s Talking Books program by the end of 2013, according to an announcement from the company.
Since the passage of the Chafee Amendment in 1996, NLS and other approved organizations have been authorized to reproduce books in audio or other specialized formats for use by print disabled patrons without seeking the permission of the copyright holder. However, the time-consuming, labor-intensive nature of audiobook production significantly limits the number of titles that most nonprofits and libraries are able to complete on an annual basis.
The discussions between Hachette and NLS that led to this new program were prompted by author Douglas Preston. Preston received a letter from a fan asking whether the latest book in the Pendergast series that he co-authors with Lincoln Child would be available in audiobook format via the Talking Books program. That letter then led Hachette to explore the expansion of its audiobook offerings at NLS.
“As a publisher, Hachette Book Group strives to make authors’ content as widely accessible as possible, and the NLS program is the perfect channel to reach fans of our books and audiobooks who otherwise may not have the opportunity to experience those works,” Anthony Goff, Hachette’s VP of Audio and Large Print Publishing, said in the announcement.