Skip to content

Browsing is Better with New and Improved Special Collections

By Ginny Grant, Senior Product Manager, Benetech Global Literacy Program

Have you noticed something different about Bookshare’s Special Collections? They are much easier to use and you can subscribe to them like a Reading List! After hearing how much people enjoy building their own Reading Lists, and seeing how teachers are using and sharing Reading Lists in their schools, Bookshare went the next step to make Special Collections even easier to use.

Special Collections are customized Reading Lists that are curated by the Bookshare Collection Development team. The staff is actively looking for books that members will enjoy and organizing them into fun and interesting lists. Here is a preview of some of the many lists available:

  • Books to Film
  • Alternate History
  • Stay Financially Fit
  • Resources for Returning Veterans
  • Mark Zuckerberg’s “A Year of Books”
  • As well as popular lists like New York Times Bestsellers, Pulitzer Award Winners, and more!

Altogether, there are more than one hundred collections that you can access via the Browse link on any Bookshare page.

Select Lists and Subscribe

The newly designed Browse page has book cover images for visual users and links and section headings for members who use screen readers. Select a list and download or open any book with Bookshare Web Reader as you normally would. The new, exciting improvement is that you can now subscribe to a Special Collection, and it will appear on your own view of My Reading Lists for easy access. As the Bookshare team adds more books, they will automatically appear on your view of the list.

For those of you who are educators, you can assign lists to students who can read every book on the list using their Bookshare Student Login. You can also make a copy of a Special Collection and add or delete titles as you wish. Note that copied lists will no longer receive updates from the original Special Collection.

Screenshot of Henry's Freedom Box

Another helpful feature is that you can discover other great titles by seeing if a particular book is listed on multiple Special Collections. For example, Henry’s Freedom Box is listed on these two Special Collections — AFB Braille Bug® Reading Club Favorites and Caldecott Award Winners — where you’ll find terrific lists of other books that might whet your reading whistle.

Special Collections for School Districts

We have also started to create Special Collections for schools, including Reading Lists provided to us by districts around the country. You’ll be able to subscribe toScreen shot of teacher recommended reading collections for grades 3-5 and 6-8 or copy those for your own use, and, if you have a really incredible list of Bookshare titles that you’d like to share with other members or educators, please drop us a line. We will try to honor all requests to share your lists through the Special Collections feature, and if the demand is high, we can train volunteers to assist as well.

With over 550,000 titles, you need effective tools to help you discover and find books. Let Special Collections be a guide. As always, we love feedback from our members and from parents and educators of student members, so don’t hesitate to share suggestions for improvements, handy-dandy tricks that you’ve found, or joys you’ve had when discovering the myriad of titles available on Bookshare.

What are you waiting for? Dive into your favorite Special Collections today!


  1. Tasha

    What happened to the ability to browse books by category? The collections are great but sometimes I just want to see what new books Bookshare has added in given category, like teen. Now I have to do an advanced search to do this and it’s more cumbersome.

    • Bookshare Communications

      Hi Tasha:
      Browsing by category was moved completed to the Advanced Search just as you noted for a couple of reasons. We found that the existing browse function was extremely limiting, whereas if done through advanced search you can truly browse by narrowing down your criteria by multiple categories, including searches for specific topics through the synopsis, and just better overall sorting. That said, we are working on bringing an enhanced version of browse by category back in the future along with several other popular browse options. Stay tuned!

  2. Terry Atwater

    I agree with the first person who commented. I was shocked to learn that simple browsing by category is no longer possible, without using the advanced search feature, which makes it far more cumbersome. I sincerely hope that simpler browsing by category is restored soon.

    • Bookshare Communications

      Terry: thank you for your feedback. I have forwarded it to the product engineering team. As mentioned in the reply to the previous comment, we are working on enhancing the ‘browse by category’ function in addition to many other improvements to Bookshare. Stay tuned and thanks for your patience!

  3. Charisma

    This is a bit off subject for this specific topic, but since the website update the bookshare emails have been going to my SPAM folder. Has something changed in the address? I need to set a filter for it since they go there every time now. Thanks

    • Bookshare Communications

      Nothing has changed on the Bookshare side. Please adjust the spam filter on your email application. Thank you!

  4. Mary Ellen

    I want to add support to the readers who like searching by caegory. Specificallly, I like to search recent books in specific categories. When do you think this feature will be restored?

    • Bookshare Communications

      The old browse-by-category function matches exactly with the functionality allowed within Advanced Search. Please select Advanced Search from the top of the Bookshare home page, scroll down to the categories, and place check marks next to the categories you wish to browse. We are in the process of revamping the browse and search functions, but for now, categories can be found on the left of the general search results. We’re hoping to provide something similar to the old browse category function in the very near future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *