A Virtual Library: The Joys and Frustrations of Reading on iOS

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

My book collection takes up no space. With my phone in my pocket, and wearing my AfterShokz headset, I have hundreds of books to keep me occupied wherever I go. And when I buy new books, I don't need to worry about whether I have enough room for them on the shelves.

That's quite different from the braille books I was given to read as a child, where even the shortest novel took up several massive volumes. Wading through all those volumes was daunting. Later on, I learned about the digital library of audiobooks from the RNIB in the UK. But although they had a wide selection of books, it was a limited range compared with what I have access to now.

Once I got my first iPhone, millions of books were suddenly available to me, and I could buy them at the same time and at the same price as everybody else. I started reading more than I had ever read before. Now, when I hear about a book I like the sound of, I can usually find it in an accessible format, however popular or obscure that book is. I've used two ebook apps: iBooks and Kindle. I'd recommend both, although I more often use Kindle because they have more books and are sometimes slightly cheaper.

For audiobooks, I downloaded Audible, and soon found that it was more convenient than the RNIB library I had been using previously, and had many more books. With my 24 book annual membership plan, I can buy all the books I want at a very reasonable price.

Most popular books, whether fiction or non-fiction, have ebook and audiobook editions. So how do you decide which format to buy? I find that the two formats serve slightly different purposes. In ebooks, it's easier to navigate to different parts of the book. The chapters in Audible books don't have titles. That's generally not an issue for a novel, but if you're reading, for example, a collection of short stories or essays and want to skip to a particular piece, having a list of numbered chapters is not very helpful. Since an ebook gives you access to the text of a book, rather than a recording of it, you can search for words and phrases, and if you need to quote the book in a piece of writing, you can be sure that the punctuation in your quote, and the spellings of any unusual names or terms, are exactly as they appear in the text. In addition, I find that I can read ebooks more quickly.

On the other hand, with a good narrator, audiobooks can add an extra dimension to your reading. There's nothing quite like having a real human voice telling you a story. Hearing a book performed by a good actor, or the author reading their own work, adds something you don't get from the ebook alone. If you want a book in both formats, you can often get the Audible version at a dramatically reduced price if you buy the Kindle edition first.

There are still a few areas where the iOS reading experience could be improved. Although it's increasingly rare, there are times when a book isn't available in digital form, so I hope publishers will continue to make more books available. I would like publishers to understand that, for some of us, ebooks and audiobooks are the only ways of reading.

Some Kindle academic books are produced as print replicas. If you try to open one of these, VoiceOver will say, "VoiceOver does not support this content." This is especially frustrating because those are exactly the books that readers need to study in detail. You can search in these books, and Kindle for PC can read them aloud, so the Kindle files must contain the text, and not just images of the printed pages. It shouldn't be difficult to make the text available to VoiceOver.

I would like ebook publishers to start adding image descriptions to books. If, for example, the current page contains a chart, VoiceOver could give a summary of its key points.

Finally, I want to be able to navigate through the rows and columns of tables within ebooks, rather than having the whole table read at once. If VoiceOver treated tables in books the same way it treats them in webpages, they would be much easier to read.

Despite these frustrations, I love the fact that I can download and read so many books so easily.

What apps do you use for reading? What do you like about reading on iOS? What do you dislike about it, and how do you want it to improve? Please share your thoughts in the comments. Keep reading, and keep the discussion going..



Submitted by Scott Davert on Friday, April 13, 2018

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Thank you for this post! As a braille user, while I have loved using the Kindle app to read books, since once the menu is gone there is nothing but text displayed, I've been having trouble using a braille display and turning to the next page. I have automatic page turning while panning on in iOS, and am finding that the page turning doesn't appear to be recognized with VoiceOver. I say that, because once a page has turned, if I flick left and then right again, I am able to see the tet of the new page. Not sure how many others are seeing this, but it's slowing down my reading efficienty big time.
In the US, we have access to BARD Mobile as part of the BARD host of services. I enjoy reading content on this app, but which there was a way to not have to add books not in the recent category to my wish list before downloading them. Minor compared to the Kindle issue I listed, but still an annoyance.
All that said, I sometimes am completely blown away by the type of access blind people have now to books and other materials. 20 years ago, while you could read books downloaded on a floppy disk with a Braille Lite, for example, you could only store 1 or 2 books on a disc. Plus, you had to get them in a specialized format. Nowadays, the fact that there is so much access is very liberating.

Submitted by PaulMartz on Friday, April 13, 2018

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

Scott has a good point that BARD Mobile should allow users to bypass the wish list and directly download books.

Another complaint is BARD Mobile's search feature. Assuming you have VoiceOver web browsing expertise, find the search box, then hit the dictate button and say "to kill a mockingbird". You'll get 71 results, and "to kill a mockingbird" is about the seventh. Yes, you can put the search text in quotes to get a more precise search result, but anyone with an Amazon Echo will just laugh hysterically at you ("Alexa, read 'to kill a mockingbird'").

BARD Mobile is begging for a simpler and smarter search feature.

Submitted by peter on Friday, April 13, 2018

I enjoy reading e-books from Bookshare. They have a wide variety of books and magazines available these days and arrangements with many publishers that give them the electronic versions directly.


Submitted by Dawn 👩🏻‍🦯 on Saturday, April 14, 2018

I am a very avid bookworm. I still have boxes upon boxes of braille books. I still have some on shelves too!

But when I had a braille device, I'd read Bookshare books with it in Brf. If I had a choice, I'd rather read a book in braille if possible. I've been a braille reader since I was 6 months old. Now, on my ipad, I suffered through the pain and spent the $20 on Bookshare's Read2Go app. It works beautifully. That was the best $20 I've ever spent!! Like several others on here, I also use the Bard. app for books. I get audio and braille from them. Lastly, I use Kindle also like a lot of others on here. Personally, I think that if you can become a member of Bookshare, I'd highly suggest looking into becoming a member. That is my favorite place to get books from. If there are any students on here, I highly suggest you look at Bookshare if you're not already a member. And honestly, and I hate saying this, because I am such a cheap skate. But, spend the $20 bucks on Bookshare's app. It might be pricey, but in my experience, I have found that using Bookshare with 3hd party software is quite cludgey. I used Capti's free version. And I tried using the iBooks app, and I found it to be not very user-friendly.
But anyway, those are the apps I use on a daily basis.

Submitted by Dawn 👩🏻‍🦯 on Saturday, April 14, 2018

Hi Scott!

I'm replying to your comment where you said that you wish you could bypass the add to wish list. You can. All you have to do is instead of clicking on the more info button, click on the book title. You'll get a confirmation asking if you'd like to download the item. Click yes, and you're done.

Submitted by Jeff on Saturday, April 14, 2018

I prefer my pleasure reading to be in audio format. I'm not fond of text to speech for pleasure reading. So I don't use iBooks or the Kindle app much. Like others responding to this article, I like the BARD and Audible apps. I also frequently take advantage of my local public libraries and check out audiobooks from Overdrive. For the books I get in mp3 format, I use Voice Dream Reader. If you zip the mp3 files into a zip archive, you can download that zip file to Voice Dream Reader via one of the cloud providers such as Dropbox. Leave the file zipped up. VDR will treat that zip file as an entire book, moving from one mp3 file to the next automatically and giving you total length, elapsed time and remaining time for the entire book. You can also place bookmarks in the book, and of course, it remembers your place so you can resume where you left off.

I'm ever so grateful for all the audiobooks I have access to these days.

Submitted by bonerobot on Saturday, April 14, 2018

Thanks for this great post. When I was a child i‘d only the possibility to read books in braille format which was a little collection. Often the books which my friend read dosn‘t existed in braille. And if exist a braille version it was to expensive to buy it.
But on the day which I got my bluetooth braille display, an focus blue 40 from freedom scientiffic, all this problems has been illuminated. From this day I can buy every book which i want without any barriers. If a book is released i can buy the book on the same day which was some years ago unbelivebel. Book to convert in braille Often took several months.
I use Kindle and IBooks to read.
But both apps contains some litle issues: on the kindle-app I have only one issue noticed. If I go one page forwart or backwart with my braille display, it does not show me which page I’m currently reading. But all other things works fine. Also the navigation in a book is nice structured.
but recently, I'm a little disappointed with Apple. the iBooks app which used to be 100% accessible has some problems now. For example, the pages on which you are located are no longer displayed on the screen. In addition, the screen always jumps back and forth while reading which makes reading extremely difficult. I have not enjoyed reading on iBooks that much since lately.
I‘ve reported this problems two times on the accessibility department of apple. They said that they have reported these issues to the engineering team and they investigate to this behavior.
I hope they will fix it so fast as possible.

Submitted by Amanda Hall on Saturday, April 14, 2018

I also use Kindle, iBooks and Audible to read books, although Audible and Kindle are the ones I use the most. It's brilliant now being able to get just about any book. I'd still be fine with reading novels in braille, but it takes up so much more space, and with audio and eBooks, I can just have them on my phone or iPod touch, and read them anywhere. I remember ages back when you couldn't get eBooks, and not being able to take my books on holiday, cos braille books would have been just too big to take.

Submitted by lelia on Saturday, April 14, 2018

Hi there, I will always be a braille reader. The cool thing is my mother never complained about my books. I actually miss braille books. I just got the OverDrive app but can’t figure out how to use it. How do I search for example what science fiction books or religious fiction books are in my library? Thanks good topic by the way

Submitted by Dawn 👩🏻‍🦯 on Saturday, April 14, 2018

I'll always be a be a braille reader. My parents never complained about books when we'd take them anywhere. We'd actually make space for it like when we'd go to St. Mary's lake and camp, or here at home. I'm fortunate that I have parents that are avid bookworms.

Submitted by Nicholas on Sunday, April 15, 2018

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

This is a great post. Thank you for sharing. I read mostly through Safari on the web, or as text or pdf on my local machine. You have given some good tips here for what should be included in an e-book, regardless of formats. Plus all the comments are wonderful. A great post.
Best wishes.

Submitted by Amanda Hall on Sunday, April 15, 2018

In reply to by Dawn 👩🏻‍🦯

yeah I would take braille books with me if we were just going camping or something, but if we went on holiday abroad I couldn't really, because then the suitcase would go overweight. I used to save some magazines though, cos then I could just leave them there once I'd finished them.

Submitted by Clare Page on Sunday, April 15, 2018

hi! I usually read books in braille until the mid-1990s, then I started buying audiobooks on tape and CD, usually abridged because those were cheaper, but, since I got my first iPhone in 2011, the world of books that were readable on IOS opened up to me. I often buy from iBooks, as i like the fact that I can buy the books through the same app I use to listen to them, but I also use Kindle fairly often, and sometimes Voice Dream Reader: I use the latter either for unprotected epub books or for zipped MP3 books. Even though I'd listened to commercially produced audiobooks for several years before I started reading on IOS, reading with text-to-speech has never been a problem for me, since the voices on IOS are not robotic, and, as I mostly read in English, I have a choice of several accents to read with, an American voice for a book from the USA, a UK voice for a book from there, and so on. It's true that we may not all have access to the same libraries and book services, since each country's system is different, but there's no denying that being able to read books on IOS, whichever way we do so, has given us access to more books than we had back in the 20th century.

Submitted by Jessica Karim on Sunday, April 15, 2018

This was a great post. I love books, I will read almost anything. I love how you compared and contrasted the difference between audiobooks, and books with just text. I for one much prefer books with just text, to audiobooks. I read with voiceover much faster than most human narrators. But, that is just me. I also agree with many people above about book share. It is a real shame that you do not have it in the UK. I love how with Bookshare, they release new titles on the day that those titles come out in electronic format, as well as print. I find that to be amazing. I primarily use voice dream reader to listen to books, but I also use the Bard mobile app on occasion, as well as iBooks, Kindel, and even sometimes nook.

Submitted by Clare Page on Sunday, April 15, 2018

In reply to by Jessica Karim

Even though I have borrowed books from a couple of libraries for the blind in France, where I live, in the past, I mostly tend to get them from mainstream sources these days. I remember reading about Bookshare coming to France a few years ago, but I wasn't tempted to join it, especially as I gather that branches of Bookshare outside the USA are much more limited than their American counterpart. As for reading with VO on my iPhone faster than a human narrator, that's the case for me too: however, I am never tempted to speed up genuine human speech to read an audiobook as I know some others do, as, to me, speeded-up human speech sounds even more unnatural than TTS could ever be.

I know, that is why I really don't like audiobooks that much. Not to mention, I don't like the fact that I have to spend about $20 to buy a single book, and I don't like them enough to buy a subscription from Amazon. I would much rather just get them all for free using book share.

Submitted by Bingo Little on Monday, April 16, 2018

This is a really great post. For me, the general rule is: Audible for fiction, Kindle for non-fiction, newspapers and magazines.

I love a good listen when it comes to fiction. I'm not averse to reading novels, but if they're available in unabridged format in an audiobook I personally prefer that, especially when the narrator performs them well.

I read a lot of non-fiction books too, though. History and politics are my main areas of interest. I don't know why, but I prefer reading these on Kindle, preferably with a braille display. Perhaps it's because far fewer of them are available in audobook format, perhaps not. i really can't put my finger on it; but it's definitely my preference. A couple of years ago, I was reading a book review in the Sunday Telegraph. the book, in case anyone's interested, was called Gun Button To Fire, and it's the memoirs of a fighter pilot during the Battle of Britain. It was truly amazing to be able to purchase that book straightaway from the Kindle store. Back when I was growing up I doubt I would have been able to read it at all, or at least I'd have had to hope that so many people wanted to read it that it would be recorded as a talking book or put into Braille by some organisation or other.

Kindle is my go to app for newspapers and magazines. Now, I know that here in the UK these are available through national Talking Newspapers and Magazines, and I bet some of you are wondering why I pay for the Kindle editions when I can get them that way. To be honest, the choice on Kindle is wider, the issues are delivered on time, I find them more navigable and there isn't that risk that some content will be missing or left out, as I used sometimes to find with the NTNM versions. Does anyone else use the Kindle app for newspapers?

I never found iBooks to be as intuitive as Kindle. Mind you, it is a long while since I tried it.

Submitted by Bingo Little on Monday, April 16, 2018

Lysette, do you know which academic publishers you have particular difficulty with? I have to deal with many of the main UK academic publishers, albeit their law book departments. I am quite willing to raise it with the right people if I know them, however.

Submitted by Lysette Chaproniere on Monday, April 16, 2018

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

Bingo Little, in answer to your question, I’ve had a quick look through the print replicas I have, and I have a few from Oxford University Press and at least one from Cambridge. But I haven’t looked at it in enough depth to determine whether some publishers are more likely than others to produce print replicas. I would’ve thought this would be an issue to take up with Amazon, since they’re the ones who can change the software so that VO reads the text.

Submitted by Bingo Little on Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Hi Lysette,

You're right about the software, but the difference is I know people at OUP and CUP, and I don't know any at amazon. Plus Amazon are more likely to take notice of OUP and CUP than just me. Both those publishers are now very good on accessibility, whatever may have been their position in the past, and I know they publish books on the Kindle that Voiceover can read. I would have thought it possible for them to tease out the difference between the print replica format and the format that Voiceover can read, and either change their practices going forward, or get in touch with Amazon themselves, or both.

You have made me aware of this issue just as I was about to buy new editions of a couple of books and was contemplating Kindle purchases. Can you tell whether they are published in print replica format from a sample chapter or do you have to buy the book?

Submitted by Kimbowen on Tuesday, April 17, 2018

I love reading on my iPhone. Iuse Audible, BARD Mobile, iBooks, Kindle, and Voice Dream Reader. I even review Kindle books for Amazon and get paid for it, it’s awesome! I’ve been using Bookshare since 2009 and Voice Dream Reader is by far the best app for reading those books ever! I, too, bought Read2Go for $20 , except there were only two voices to choose from (Heather and Ryan). Plus, when you updated your phone to a new model, you were to re-download all those books, majorly frustrating. Voice Dream Reader is wonderful it only cost me $10 (now I think it’s 15), you have multiple voices to choose from (from two dollars to five dollars Per download), and when you update your phone, the books are saved in the cloud! For those reasons, Voice Dream Reader is the absolute best app for reading Bookshare books!

Submitted by Lysette Chaproniere on Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

Yes, you can tell from a sample chapter. The amazon product page will also tell you if it’s a print replica. I’d been thinking I should get in touch with Amazon and/or the publishers about this, and I will, but if you already know people at OUP and CUP, you might have more influence. I’m due to start my PhD this Autumn so I hope they can find a way to solve this problem. In my experience, it’s not a very large percentage of books that have this problem, but still worth drawing attention to.

Submitted by Bingo Little on Wednesday, April 18, 2018

In reply to by Lysette Chaproniere

Sure I will write to what publishers I know. ultimately as a course convenor I can bring some pressure to bear as it is up to me to recommend core textbooks and I shan't be choosing anything that might cause accessibility problems for my students. You will find, though, that when you start your PHD you will probably be able to access books through other platforms e.g. VitalSource Bookshelf, which i know OUP use a lot. VitalSource Bookshelf is very accessible and their CEO, with whom I have met, puts a premium on accessibility. They regularly test with Voiceover and jaws certainly. Good luck with the PHD>

Submitted by Michael Feir on Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Club AppleVis Member

I've been an avid reader all my life. I'm still thunderstruck by the ability to simply buy books at the same prices as everyone else on the same day and from the same sources that they do and have them be completely accessible. The issues such as the Kindle pages issue with Braille displays seem like awfully minor quibbles when you've gone through most of life simply being unable to read many books on topics dear to you but to relatively few others. I often get books in Kindle and Audible since there's something called Whispersynch which keeps track of your place and lets you switch from reading a book on Kindle to hearing it in Audible.

I find I purchase far more books in Kindle form since prices are beter and the books are so compact. Sometimes, I buy text books or more academic stuff from Vital Source Bookshelf. The bookshelf app has been developed with accessibility in mind. This lets me get at some books which wouldn't work on Kindle. Voice Dream REader is great and lets me take advantage of book bundle deals at sites like:
I've enjoyed a great many books at stupendously low prices from that site. Just load them into Voice Dram Reader and get sucked into a good story.

Even living on social assistance, I've still been able to build an impressive collection of books over the years. Even better, I can fit them all, well over 2000 of them, in a pocket. That's just mind-blowing. I think I've finally manged to actually buy copies of all the books I've wanted to own while growing up which have retained their interest for me. This simply wouldn't have been possible even as little as fifteen years ago. We live in amazing times.

Submitted by Jesse Anderson on Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The reason some academic Kindle books aren't accessible via VoiceOver or other screen reader isn't because of the app itself. Publishers themselves choose to block text-to-speech functionality for some reason. I've heard everything from, "People could record the tts playback and share it with others then." to "It could count as a public performance and more than one person could listen at a time." I've had discussions with amazon and book publishers about this topic several times. I know Pierson seems fond of blocking TTS support for many textbooks.

I could go on a rant about the stupidity of this for a while, but I won't. Instead, I'd recommend doing the following for academic Kindle books. Go to the book's page on the Amazon website, and under the book details section, there should be an item listing if text-to-speech is enabled or disabled for the book. Also, if one is available, try downloading a free sample before buying the book to be sure it reads with your screen reader and app of choice.

Thankfully, recreational reading from Kindle has been pretty flawless for the past few years. If only academia would wake up, and realize that, if we had access to the same E-Books as everyone else, it would save many people a lot of work, converting content into accessible form, when it should have been to begin with...

That said, I love how many apps and services I can use on my iPhone to read books.

BARD and Bookshare are great. Voice Dream Reader is definitely my app of choice because it plays so many things, and its cloud sync feature is super helpful. I have folders for types of books, series, favorites, etc., and I never have to worry about re-downloading or organizing them again. If I get a new phone, I just download the app, turn on Cloud Sync, and all my stuff is there again. Thank you Winston.

Especially now that BARD and Audible have improved audio quality for sped up books, I listen to loads of books through those services as well.

Both Kindle and Audible seem to have a lot of unique books that aren't on other services. Sites like Humble Bundle and Story Bundle are great ways to get interested, curated book bundles for cheap too.

I only wish VoiceOver had a way to keep reading with the screen locked, for things like iBooks and Kindle.

Submitted by Vsevolod Popov on Thursday, April 26, 2018

Hello! I would like to tell about my reading preferences and reading on iOs devices. I use voice dream reader app for reading text books, I think that this is the best solution that I could have for reading books, quick reading of articles, stories ETC. For audiobooks I use our russian library av3715 and it's app av3715 pocket reader that recently appeared for iOs. Actually, it's difficult for me to say what books I prefer more, but I can say that if I read a text book with my favorite acapela synthesiser, I can concentrate better on the text of a book and what's happening there, so I can read faster and more effective. If I read English books I prefer listening to audiobooks, I haven't tryed to read English books with tts yet because I don't know good synthesiser in voice dream for it from acapela. Thanks!

Submitted by Voracious P. Brain on Friday, April 27, 2018

Let's go way back. My college years through earning my Ph.D. consisted of hired readers onto cassette and an increasing use of Kurzweil 1000 and OmniPage, and probably some long-forgotten DOS software from TeleSensory, plus Talking Books. By 1992, I was the only guy on campus to have a library of electronic texts, and I used it to blow away my profs with endless blockquotes (pasted) and an amazing ability to find all the places in a large work to mention topic X (control-F). I skated past everyone else in the program, B.A. through Ph.D.--the only time, perhaps, that blindness posed a distinct advantage, though it took hours of sitting with a scanner. To this day, I keep all those volumes, along with transcoded PDFS, on my computer: 9 Gb or more of text files. I would feel terrified not to have a top-of-the-line legal-sized scanner on my desk, even though it's collecting dust and is buried in library books I've been too lazy to scan.
I suppose BookShare materials begin life this way, still: they certainly started out there when the service first began.
As a grad student, I scanned several books a week: put on the headphones, crank up the music, set the OCR software to auto-scan page after page as I furiously flipped them, chugging beers and fist-pumping as the scanner bar descended the spread-open book. It was my downtime.
I still prefer to read non-fiction in text format in a word processor, so that I can annotate a file I can be certain to open 20 years later (more than 20 years, in some cases). My brain has a hard time processing anything that's not spoken by Eloquence. But I'd never want to read fiction with a synthesizer.
I'm starting to try to use VoiceDream more, but I haven't quite gotten the hang of it yet and I feel somewhat bereft when I can't take notes. My big complaint is that apps like Word and Pages don't facilitate one-handed document navigation by paragraph, sentence, or heading. Pages took a couple of steps in that direction, but it didn't become easy enough or reliable enough, given that an accidental tap can change the location in the document, etc. With non-fiction, it's vital to be able to go back in sentence/paragraph/section units, and to open multiple documents, and other things. What I'd love is VoiceDream's variety of synths combined with the keypad of BookPort Plus or Victor Stream, and voice dictation for annotation!

Submitted by TJ on Tuesday, May 1, 2018

I had been listening to books from BARD and Audible on my Victor Reader Stream for years before I got an iPhone. While I have tried listening to books on my phone, I find the Victor to be preferable for the following reasons:
1. I usually listen with the device in my pocket, using headphones. With the Victor, I can quickly pause the reading (e.g. land line phonerings) by slipping my hand into my pocket and pressing the play/pause button. With iPhone, I have to remove phone from my pocket, unlock, find the on screen button to pause, and tap it. Takes too long. And, if I don't lock the phone while in my pocket, it may be a slightly quicker process to pause the book, but I often create unintended consequences from various pressures on my phone in my pocket.
2. Battery life. I read enough that, if I were to use my phone for reading, I would drain my battery long before the day is over. This problem may be resolved when I replace my phone, which is 3 years old.
3. Learning curve for using various options on iPhone. While I have used the BARD app, and have Read to Go, I haven't invested the time to figure out how to use them efficiently. I know the process of searching, downloading, and transferring books to my Victor and could do it in my sleep.

Any suggestions for the quick pause issue while listening on my iPhone. Thoughts on getting started with other book sources? I tried to use Book Share years ago to access the reference manual for mental health providers, but never could figure out how to move around the book to find the sections I needed to reference. Again,, while I played with it a bit, I never put consistent effort into getting help or using help functions.

I'm a competent iPhone user with many apps, but find this reading thing overwhelming, and BARD on my Victor is so easy!

Submitted by Lysette Chaproniere on Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

Hi tkurys,

Many headphones have play/pause controls built in, so you can pause an audiobook with the press of a single button. If your headphones don’t have this, you can pause the audio by waking up your phone (no need to unlock) and doing a two finger double-tap. I’m not sure what you’re looking for when you ask for thoughts on getting started with other book services. Do you have any specific questions? If you’re already a competent iPhone user, you’ll probably find apps like Audible easy to use.

Submitted by Ekaj on Thursday, May 10, 2018

Thanks for this great information. I just acquired my first iPhone the day before Easter, and am going through some good in-person training. Regarding BookShare, I am currently a Hadley student but signed up for BookShare before enrolling. I'm wondering if I can just transfer memberships? I don't believe I ever used my membership from before, and BookShare is free for Hadley students. At least this is what I read on their site awhile back. I'm also registered with the NLS, and have found BARD to be a most helpful resource.

Submitted by UndergroundRiver on Thursday, July 5, 2018

This is going to be a bit of a long post, but I feel like a trip down bibliographic memory lane. I grew up in the '80s, and I loved reading braille books, despite the number of volumes some of them took. My mother read me a lot of stories but once I wanted to read more adult stuff or something she didn't like to read, I started listening to more and more books on tape, then CD, then MP3 and Audible. I also started reading text files in the '90s. I didn't have a scanner until about 2010, and I needed to pay the University copy and print centre to take apart the books so they'd go through my document feeder. I hated OCR errors, like "modem" instead of "modern", but being able to buy a book and read it a few days later was a lot better than waiting for braille or using audio for textbooks. During all this time, I was losing my hearing gradually. I don't remember exactly when I stopped listening to audiobooks, but it was long before I stopped listening to Eloquence; the last voice I could understand. (Yes, I could understand it better than human speech, and it never got mad when I asked it to repeat!) In about 2011, I started using Adobe Digital "Addictions" (Editions, but I like to call it "addictions"), to let me read ebooks. I could either listen with Eloquence, or I could read on my braille display. That was good for fiction, or nonfiction not for university, but for classes, I still needed plain text files, which I read in this great app on my PC call;ed Notepad! (I still love to use the basic Notepad with Windows; it's just not the same in TextEdit on the Mac.) I tried iBooks a couple times, and got a free book that I could sort of read, and I was happy with Digital Editions and Notepad until the end of 2017. (I'd lost most of my functional hearing by 2016, and was reading exclusively in braille.) Something went wrong, and I couldn't seem to get my Adobe "Addictions" to work. Frustrated, I turned to iBooks, and found it more accessible than before. I now read a lot on iBooks. It generally has to be stories, either true or made up, but some how-to books are also good. I've bought some books there that were scanned images of a book, so not accessible at all, but Apple did refund the purchases when I told them about (I have to call the accessibility department using relay to have an operator type what is being said). I love iBooks (and am hoping I will love Kindle once I try it; I only have one book on there so far and have yet to start reading it). Some tables don't read at all though. Sometimes, at the end of a chapter, there are words missing, or they seem to be missing, but I doubt they are, as sighted people would not put up with words missing like that often. This brings me to a point that I need to make. Somebody on here said that the problems with braille displays seemed minor. That might be true for some problems, and it is true if you don't use a braille display, but if you're Deaf-Blind or really need to read in braille for some reason, then the problems may not be minor at all. It depends on the problem of course, and it depends on what you can and will put up with. For me, equal access to books is something I think all of us should expect. Yes, it's great how far things have come since we were young, that we can now read books that we never could ahve read X number of years ago, but we still deserve equal access to books, and any problems we find should be reported and expected to be fixed, the same way sighted people would report problems and expect them to be resolved, in the next version of the app, not 5 versions from now, with some excuse about it being "just the accessibility features". Yes I am blown over happy when I find I can read the same books on the same day sighted people can. I am equally certain taht I deserve that ability, as do all of you, no matter if you read in braille, listen with headphones to a human reader, or pump out Eloquence through $600 speakers and make your mother listen too. Speaking of mothers, I now read out loud to my mother, that's payback for all the years she read to me. Please, just one more chapter!

I opened up the first Kindle book I've ever purchased, and at first I struggled to read it, but I figured out how to tell when the page was turning and how to start reading the new page. Once it stops scrolling when I press the panning button, I know it's at the end of the page and I ahve to use the VO next and previous items to juggle around and get back to the braille line that will then display the new page. iBooks has some braille issues, like sometimes the books disappears from the braille dispay. The workaround for this is to touch the screen and it will usually reappear (I think you'd need to touch the book area for this to work). Sometimes iBooks jumps around, and this is annoying, but generally using VO next and previous items finds the book area again. I am able to read a story on Kindle, but I wouldn't want to read a book where I have to skip around, as I have no idea what page I am even on. With iBooks, the table of contents is accessible to me but it doesn't seem to be so on Kindle. S iBooks for most books, Kindle for the ones not on iBooks, and Notepad for scanned books that must be editable for serious bookmarking or copy-and-paste-able for quoting!

Submitted by Devin on Friday, July 6, 2018

Its crazy that publishers still block tts and other accessibility features due to piracy concerns. Ironically, there are a number of websites devoted to pirated academic books whose pdf and epub documents are much more accessible. As a graduate student, I'm not sure how I would function without the above mentioned alternative sources.

Submitted by bonerobot on Saturday, July 7, 2018

Hi all,

Just everybody knows that since the release of ios 11, ibooks is no more accessible in access with a braille display. For example, ibooks jumped in a crazy way between the lines and doesn‘t show the current page numbers.
I have mailed over 3 times to the accessibility team of apple and described them the current bugs.
Yesterday, i received the confirmation from apple that they have noticed all current existing bugs in ibooks on ios and that they will investigate about these so fast as possible. They told me also that all bugs will be solved in the new books app on ios 12.
i hope they will hold theire promisses.

Submitted by Greg Wocher on Saturday, July 7, 2018

My main issue with using kindel books is that you have to leave the screen of your phone on to read them. This can drain the battery fairly quickly, even with the brightness set to 0. Does anyone know if there is a way to read Kindel books with the screen off? I just got a trial of Kindel unlimited for a dollar for three months.

Greg WOcher

Submitted by Faisal on Monday, November 4, 2019

i use I-books and Voicedream readers. both work fine for me. however, i think more flexible navigation via voiceover in the Ibooks App would be of immense help. say reading sentence by sentence or para wise.

Submitted by Cowboy on Thursday, December 26, 2019

To the guy who mentioned scanning I’m right there with you though I’m a little younger. I got my first copy of Open Book and a scanner in 1994 and it opened up a whole new world. Set the scan to auto, flip pages, and then once you were done step away and let the computer process them all. I continued doing this until early 2012 when I first tried iBooks. Now I really only use kindle but did get a bit of nostalgia last year when I could only find a book in print and got to scan it in.

Submitted by Daniel Angus MacDonald on Thursday, February 13, 2020

over Christmas, I bought a good book. Walks by Big Alex's Pond, by my uncle, Henry Van Berkle. lots of history about Big Alex, , the clondike King doring the ukon gold rush. lots of family history, and experiences the author had. the book wasn't available on Apple Books at first, so I called my cuzin, Stacey to see if she could help. then I called Henry to notify him of same. then, one day, I searched for Walks by Big Alex's Pond on the Apple Books Bookstore and found it. I had issues downloading it, do to a slow wifi network. once I did that, I started reading on my Mac with the Alex TTS. I highly recamend this book to all. it is available on Amazon as a Kindle Adition, and on Apple Books. interestingly, on Kindle it is $7.99 Canadian and $6.99 on Apple Books
happy reading,

Submitted by peter on Thursday, February 13, 2020

The BARD Mobile app has recently been updated and, now that the beta cycle is over, the new version has been released to the app store (February 13, 2020, so you should see it soon.

There are many great new features that folks should enjoy including the ability to download books directly from the app, easily find books by the same author of a book, find books in the same series as a particular book, find books in the same genre of a given book, etc. The app now also holds a list of books that you have recently read.

Anyway, NLS did a great job on this and people should check it out as soon as it shows up on the app store.


Submitted by roman on Thursday, February 13, 2020

Hello. I am not a reader, but I respect the people who love to read. I belive thatg reading a book is grate. it anhances our knowlage.