Monday, 13 September 2010

Newsletter September 2010


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UK publishers continue to ignore the needs of those requiring large print editions but you can access many titles not otherwise available in the UK surprisingly quickly through our website.

From now on we hope to produce a newsletter every month.

Tony Blair

Tony Blair’s A Journey sold over 92,000 copies in the UK in its first four days. This is said to be the fastest rate of sale of any autobiography since records began. None of those sales will be in large print because there is no large print edition published in the UK.

It is often said that Tony Blair is more popular in the US than in the UK, so perhaps that is why Random House, who publish the book on both sides of the Atlantic, published a simultaneous large print edition in the USA. We are selling this for £25.50 and you can find it on our website here.

One of the things that the RNIB advocate with their Right to Read campaign is that publishers produce large print editions at the time of the original publication. It mystifies me that publishers do not do this, with their major titles. The visually impaired want to read what everyone else is reading and talking about at the same time, not six months later. (For example, Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol was published in September last year on the same day around the world; in the USA the large print edition was published on that same day. In the UK, the large print edition was published the following February. It could have made a perfect Christmas present!). Click on the title to find the hardback and paperback on our website.

Stieg Larsson: The Millennium Trilogy

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, together with the other two volumes in The Millennium Trilogy, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest are said to be the biggest selling ebooks, and on every beach and holiday flight and railway carriage people can be seen reading the conventional paperback. But they are not available in large print in the UK. Luckily, they are available in the US so we import them. You can find the three Larsson titles listed here.

The new Richard and Judy Book Club

We welcome the return of the Richard and Judy Book Club in its new guise this month. However, of the eight titles that they have selected only one, Operation Mincemeat by Ben Macintyre is available in large print. It is an enthralling story of how “The Man Who Never Was” – a dead vagrant who was dressed as a naval officer and washed ashore off the coast of Spain with secret documents on his person which fooled Hitler into thinking that the southern invasion was going to be anywhere but Sicily. You can find further details here.

The Man Booker Prize shortlist

The six titles shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize were announced this week. I am afraid that it is the same old story: not one is available in large print in the UK. It is so easy, in this digital age, to format a novel for large print and make it available as a print-on-demand title that it really is rather disgracefully shoddy on the part of these publishers that they do not make them available.

However, two of the titles are available in large print in the USA, and we have them on order. They are Peter Carey’s Parrot and Olivier in America and Emma Donoghue’s Room. You can find further details by clicking on the highlighted titles.

BBC Book Club

If you follow James Naughtie’s Radio 4 Bookclub you may be interested in what is coming up. You can listen to past programmes by visiting the Bookclub website here. The most recent programme dealt with The Life of Pi by Yann Martel, which is not available in the UK but we import it from the USA.

Coming up later in the year is a discussion of Claire Tomalin’s biography of Thomas Hardy which we normally have in stock.

Book Clubs

If you want to join a Book Group in your area, I can recommend which is filled with valuable resources on finding and setting up a group. We hope that those who are choosing titles for their group will consult our site to check if a large print edition is available.


2009 was the year that saw ebook sales take off in the USA, and no doubt the UK will follow the trend very shortly, particularly with the excellent ibooks feature on the new Apple ipad, and the new Kindles which have just been launched by Amazon.

Many of our customers are elderly, and are unwilling or unable to embrace this new technology (quite apart from the fact that the hardware is still quite expensive) but for anyone younger with a visual impairment I would recommend that they try out the new readers. Also, you do not need to own a Kindle to read a Kindle book: you can download a free Kindle application to your PC.

I am fortunate in not being visually impaired (although I cannot read many of the paperbacks I bought over 40 years ago) but in the interest of research have been reading Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bill Bryson’s At Home on the PC, the iPad and the iPhone and I am in no doubt that this is the way I am going to choose to buy books in future. Wolf Hall is a marvellous book but, especially in large print, it is enormous and heavy, and the ibook version is about half the price of the large print edition. (Even so, we would be very pleased to sell you the hardback edition! Just click on the title.)

However I live in hope that the ebook digital revolution will have a silver lining for large print book readers: once the book has been digitally formatted for ebooks it is so simple to generate a large print edition.

For a very helpful article on the current situation with ebook readers (and their text to speech capabilities) see the article in Book Brunch by Denise Dwyer who is Development Office Access to Publishing at the RNIB.

Till next month

If you know of someone for whom you think this might be of interest please forward it to them.

We always welcome feedback, so you are very welcome to write or email.

With best wishes.

Guy Garfit