Downloading BARD Books to a Flash Drive or Blank Cartridge

When you download digital books from BARD, you can put them on either a blank digital cartridge or a USB flash drive (thumb drive) to play them on your digital player.

Using Blank Cartridges

You will need to purchase both a cartridge and the special USB cable used to attach it to your computer. The cartridges are the same size and shape as those used for the recorded books that you receive through the mail, so they can be inserted in the front of the player in the same way.

These vendors sell blank cartridges and compatible USB cables.

  1. American Printing House for the Blind, Inc.external link (APH)
    Phone: (502) 895-2405 or (800) 223-1839

    A 4GB digital talking-book cartridge from APHexternal link, specifically designed to be used with the NLS digital-talking book machine, sells for $13.00, and USB cables, needed for connecting the digital cartridge to your computer, for $5.00.
  1. Adaptive Technology Perkins Productsexternal link
    Phone: (978) 462-3817
    Fax: (978) 462-3928

    Perkins Products has 4GB cartridgesexternal link. The 4GB cartridge is $12.69. A USB cable may also be purchased separately for $5.00.  Free Shipping.
  1. Howell Mobility Productsexternal link
    Phone: (248) 548-1788
    Fax: (248) 548-1788 (call first)

    NLS digital cartridges and cables from Howellexternal link The 4GB cartridge is $12.00. A USB cable may also be purchased for $3.00.

Using USB Flash Drives

USB flash drives (thumb drives) can also be used to play BARD books. A flash drive is smaller than the cartridges and, unlike the cartridges, it must be inserted into the USB port, which is on the right side of the digital player and has a removable cover.

While many flash drives will work with BARD books, some readers who use flash drives have reported error messages such as:

  • "no book available,"
  • "cartridge error," or
  • "end of book" after the introductory material is read.

Flash drive manufacturers use different controller chips in their products, and some products have technological issues that create errors when playing digital books. We cannot advise you on the use of flash drives as we have no control over the specifications used in the manufacturing of these drives. However, NLS provides some additional information:

If you do use a flash drive, it is probably best to start with a blank flash drive and use it only for your digital books.

USB flash drives can be purchased in most electronics departments in stores such as Walmart or Staples. They can also be purchased online from sites such as

However, because of the inconsistencies mentioned above, NLS recommends that users of the NLS digital player purchase a blank cartridge, designed specifically to be used with the NLS player, if downloading books from the BARD site.

Last Updated: February 26, 2014