Large Print Books
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Introduction. Experts tell us that living to 100 will become quite usual in the not too distant future. Progress indeed, but one thing that seems to deteriorate first in many people is their eyesight, and the quality of those twilight years (or maybe decades) can be influenced greatly by our ability to read. Add to this the proportion of the population with permanent sight problems, and the number of people affected stands at almost two million in the UK and this must be increasing rapidly with our new lifespan forecasts.
Help is at hand in the form of large print books, audio books, talking newspapers and, of course, items in Braille. There is nothing to beat holding a book in your hand though, is there, so this article concentrates on large print books.
The Publisher. Simplest of these to acquire should be books in large print but their availability is really very difficult, mainly due to the small number of each title publishers produce, 600 - 800 in most cases. This is because the large print publishers only have a licence to market to libraries. Because they print such small numbers, each book is relatively expensive to produce. They never have old stock because they have to sell the books within 5 years. This was explained to me by one publisher’s representative who also said they really don’t see any retail market out there. Bearing in mind the increasing elderly population, I find this hard to believe myself.
Changes Needed. Its down to the publishers to change their outlook, away from the cash-strapped library market and towards a whole, new generation of ‘silver surfers ‘with their large disposable incomes. They need to make a bold step in a whole new direction towards a profitable future.
Booksellers. As booksellers, we are constantly asked to check the size of print and find this is really important in the purchasing decisions of some customers every week. There are a lot of disappointed readers who are reluctant to have to resort to the hand held devices, such as the ‘fresnel’ lens or other magnifiers on the market. Maybe they don’t want to appear visually impaired, until it becomes inevitable. For the sight impaired Large Print Books are a welcome source of reading independence. A programme on Radio 4, You and Yours (23 October 2003) made clear just how difficult it is to find large print books in bookshops. Used bookshops do stock some second hand books. Unfortunately they are usually ex-library with the associated condition implications that sadly come with that tag. All booksellers aim to stock books in very good condition so the books that remain are not large in number.
Internet Large Print Booksellers. Most used booksellers sell by ‘clicks and mortar’; although increasingly few with the mortar; independent bookshops are closing every day. The internet can be a source for large print books. I hope the list of links below may prove fruitful for you.
Feedback. I would like to hear of any experiences you have of tracking down large print books. An email to firstname.lastname@example.org will be very welcome.
Brenda J Brown