Picture of an NLS DTB blank cartridge, top view.

Copying NLS Digital Talking Books to Cartridges

Questions: How do you burn to the NLS digital player blank cassettes?  How do you copy a new talking book onto a blank NLS cartridge? Answers follow.  Here we give instructions for copying digital talking books Tt NLS player cartridges from your computer that you downloaded from the BARD web site.

Copying Digital Talking Books Introduction

The blank cartridges available for the digital talking book (DTB) players from the National Library Service for the Blind (NLS) are actually just USB thumb drives housed in bigger-than-typical cases.  We bought some 2GB units for approximately $11 each.  Their larger size makes them easier to handle for people with arthritis and other ailments of the arms, hands, and fingers.

NLS DTB Cartridges are Really Just USB Thumb Drives

These easier-to-hold memory cards come equipped with a USB A-style connector on the end opposite the finger hole. So, you can copy files to and from them just as you would a CompactFlash, SD, SD HD, or other external storage device.  However, you need a USB-A cable for this, which you must purchase separately.  Further, your computer must be USB2.0-ready to get the fastest data transfer rates.  This really speeds things along if you’re copying long NLS books.  So avoid using USB1.1 ports if possible.

Picture of en NLS DTB cartridge in a mailer case, with case open, top view. Copying digital talking books to NLS player cartridges.
NLS DTB cartridge in a mailer case, with case open, top view.

When you connect these cassette-like memory cards to your Windows computer, you should hear the ba-blunk sound of a new USB device coming online.  Then, some seconds later, a new drive letter will appear in your Windows Explorer folder list once the system installs the drivers for the card.  At this point, you can use copy-paste, drag-and-drop, the command prompt’s COPY or XCOPY commands, or any other valid Windows key stroke sequence to transfer files to and from the card.

You can store any files on the card you wish; they need not be NLS DTB files.  However, in this piece, we focus on transferring the DAISY-formatted DTB book files from the National Library Service for the Blind, Recordings for the Blind, and other vendors.  So we do not discuss other file types further here.

Copying Digital Talking Books to Blank NLS Cartridges

To copy a DTB recording onto these flash-style memory cards, perform the following steps.

1. Acquire the Digital Talking Book (DTB)

First, download the book (as a ZIP file from the NLS BARD web site or other similar provider).  You must set up an account on the BARD site first through your nearest regional library for the blind.  But once you receive your account information, you can browse the library’s collection through your broadband Internet connection (recommended).  Then, you can download any number of books to your computer as long as you have enough space on your hard drive for them.

2. Connect a Blank DTB Cartridge

Once you get a DTB book to read, connect a cartridge to your computer as discussed above.

Picture of the NLS DTB cartridge, showing its USB port highlighted.
NLS DTB cartridge, showing its USB port highlighted. Copying digital talking books to NLS player cartridges.

Then to reduce confusion, delete any files and folders on the cartridge (say, from other books that you’ve listened to already).

3. Find the DTB Zip File to Continue with Copying Digital Talking Books

Then, in Windows Explorer, find the ZIP file of the book you with to copy to the cartridge.

4. Use the Context Menu

Right-click that file, and a context menu will appear.  On that menu, choose the  Extract All…  item.  This runs the extraction wizard.

5. Choose Destination Folder for the Extraction

Click the  Next  button.  This brings up a window that allows you to choose the place to extract the DTB files in the original ZIP file to.

6. Press the   Browse  Button

The   Select a destination window should then pop up.

7. Open the   My Computer   Window to Continue with Copying Digital Talking Books

In that window, navigate to the   My Computer   folder and open it.  Then, find and select the drive letter of the DTB cartridge you just connected above.

8. Press the  OK  Button

The  Select a destination  windows closes, and you’re taken back to the  Extraction Wizard  window.

You should see the drive you chose appear in the   Files will be extracted to this directory   edit box.

9. Press the   Next   button

This begins the extraction process to the cartridge.

At this point, a progress bar appears, and the files in the ZIP file are decompressed and copied to your blank DTB cartridge.  The time it takes to perform the extraction depends on the reading time of the book.  The longer the book, the bigger its files are.  he bigger the files, the longer the extraction will take.  Average-sized books extract anywhere from within five to fifteen seconds.

Picture of a blank NLS DTB cartridge, showing its bottom view.
NLS DTB blank cartridge, showing its bottom view. Copying digital talking books to NLS player cartridges.

10. Detach the Cartridge from Computer to Continue with Copying Digital Talking Books

Next, disconnect the card from your computer but first, it’s safest to use the   Safely Remove Hardware   wizard first to make sure that any open files on the card have been properly saved and closed before you unplug it.

11. Play the Copied DTB

Insert the card into your NLS DTB player and power the player on.  After a short pause, the title of the book should be announced.  If so, then you’ve successfully copied a talking book to your card, and you can then read and navigate through it just as you would the already-populated cartridges you get from NLS.

Related Posts to Copying Digital Talking Books

  1. How To Copy Songs From Multiple iPods Into iTunes Library

References for Copying Digital Talking Books to NLS Player Cartridges

  1. About DTB Cartriges and Cables from the National Library Service for the Blind

Revision History

  • 2019-03-16: Added key phrase targeting, more subheadings, and tags.
  • 2015-12-08: Added appropriate tags.
  • 2014-12-29: Moved this piece to the   Tom’s Tek Stop   blog.
  • 2010-06-02: Originally published.