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Downloading BARD Books to a Blank Cartridge or a Flash Drive

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.

Blank Cartridges

You will need to purchase a blank cartridge. A USB cable is required to attach your blank cartridge to your computer's USB port. You may request a free cable from TBBL or if you prefer you can purchase one.

The blank 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 into the USB port in the inset 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
  2. Adaptive Technology Perkins Productsexternal link
    Phone: (978) 462-3817
    Fax: (978) 462-3928
  3. 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.

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.

USB Port on Digital Player

Digital player, with the USP port and cover labelled

The digital talking book player has a USB port on the side for digital books that have been downloaded (via BARD) to a flash drive. The port, which has a removable black plastic cover, is on the right side, next to the audio jack.

Blank digital cartridges, inserted into the front of the player, are also available from several vendors for use with BARD.


It is not necessary to buy a very large flash drive. On average, about 7 books will fit on 1 GIG (1,000 MB) of drive space. Therefore a 4 GIG drive will hold an average of between 25-30 books and an 8 GIG drive will hold an average of between 50 and 60 books.

If you do use a flash drive, it is best to start with an empty flash drive and use it only for your digital books. Some flash drive brands, such as Sandisk, include third party software, usually advertisements for various software products. It is best to remove extras like this and start with an empty drive before using BARD. The extra files can cause errors when you attempt to play the downloaded book.

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 NLS has recommended Lexar and PNY brands, though we have found that most flash drives work fine as long as you start with an empty drive.

Last Updated: November 29, 2021