"Palin releases 'blind' book"
published in BBC News (news.bbc.co.uk) on Sunday, 25 August 2002
Wednesday, 4 September 2002

The hardcover version of Michael Palin's Sahara book is due out on 26 September (source: amazon.co.uk)

Monty Python star-turned-travel writer Michael Palin is to be the first British author to release a new work as a talking book before it comes out in print.

Palin will publish Sahara, which recounts his travels across the Sahara Desert, as an unabridged talking book at the end of this month.

The hardbacked version will not be available until September.

It means the blind and partially sighted will have access to the book at the same time as those who can see.

Palin's journey across the Sahara, which included travels to neighbouring Algeria and Libya, will be shown on the BBC this autumn.

Sahara, which will be released on digital CD, is the fourth talking book Palin has recorded for the Royal National Institute of the Blind.

He has already recorded Around The World In 80 Days, Pole to Pole and Full Circle.

Palin said: "It's fantastic to think that for once blind and partially sighted people are going to be able to get hold of a book at the same time as their sighted friends and family.

'Completely unfair'

"I can see no reason why blind and partially sighted people should not be able to get access to books at the same time as everyone else.

"The fact that they often can't seems completely unfair.

"I am very lucky. I see the most wonderful things as I travel around the world and I feel everything possible should be done to bring back a record of what I have seen for those people who cannot witness these sights or even watch them on television."

Only 5% of books are currently available in formats that blind and partially sighted people can read such as Braille, tapes, CDs or large print.

That leaves two million people in Britain without access to the remaining literature, according to the RNIB.