Wednesday, 16 May 2012

The Visually Impaired Person’s Guide to The Hay Festival

The programme for the 25th Hay Festival, running from Thursday May 31st until Sunday June 10th has been announced, together with the children’s programme, Hay Fever, which runs at the same time.

There is a wonderfully diverse programme, with a large number of authors. You can find the full programme here.

Many of these authors are available in large print and we have produced a guide to what is available in large print for the benefit of festival goers, and for those who are tempted to get involved at a distance.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of Half of a Yellow Sun and The Thing Around Your Neck, will give the Commonwealth Lecture ‘To Instruct and Delight – a Case for Realist Literature’.

Martin Amis will discuss his new novel with The Telegraph Head of Books, Gaby Wood. Some of his earlier work is available in large print and you can find details here.

William Boyd talks with the Festival Director Peter Florence about his new novel, Waiting for Sunrise.

Louis de Bernières discusses his work as the librettist for the musical production about the Hay Poisoner.

Monty Don appears in four events, discussing diverse subjects from climate change to bi-polarity to the growing world population.

Michael Frayn discusses his childhood memoir, My Father’s Fortune, available in hardback and paperback.

Stephen Fry attends two discussions on bi-polarity.

Philippa Gregory is appearing in three events on Saturday 2nd June. Five of her titles are available in large print.

Mohammed Hanif will be discussing his new novel Our Lady of Alice Bhatti.

Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding: It is rather extraordinary that a book about Baseball has received such rave reviews in the UK (as well as the US of course) and Waterstones have chosen it as one of their 2012 “Waterstones eleven” for debut novels.

Joanne Harris will be discussing a sequel to Chocolat. Let’s hope it is published in large print in due course.

Alan Hollinghurst will discuss his latest novel, The Stranger’s Child, with Gaby Wood.

Boris Johnson will be talking about his latest book, Johnson’s Life of London, one of the 98% of books published every year which are never published in large print. However, his The Dream of Rome is still available in large print.

Kathy Lette will be talking about her new novel The Boy Who Fell to Earth.

Two of our bestsellers are Ben MacIntyre’s Operation Mincemeat and Agent Zigzag, so it is a mystery as to why his latest bestseller Double Cross – The True Story of the D-Day Spies is not yet available in large print, despite having been a Radio 4 Book of the Week.

One of the highlights of the festival will undoubtedly be Hilary Mantel talking about her new book Bring up the Bodies, her sequel to Wolf Hall, one of our biggest sellers in large print. As yet, we do not know who is going to publish the large print edition of Bring Up the Bodies. Send us an email if you want to be kept informed as soon as we know more.

Andrew Marr will be talking about The Diamond Queen on Friday 8th June. If we are very lucky the large print edition will be available by then. It is due to be published on June 4th, the first day of the two-day Diamond Jubilee holiday, so we can be sure it will not be published on that day! The publisher is notorious for failing to meet their publication deadlines anyway, often being a month late. What is puzzling is that the normal print edition was published in October last year so they have had plenty of time to produce the large print edition.

Ian McEwan will be discussing his writing and his new novel, Sweet Tooth, with Timothy Garton Ash. He will also be talking to James Watson, the 1962 Nobel Laureate, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA.

Sinclair McKay will be talking about his The Secret Life of Bletchley Park, chosen as the Independent Booksellers Book of the Year in 2011, and one of our biggest sellers.

Andrew Miller will be talking about Pure, the Costa Book of the Year 2012.

Adam Nicolson will talk about his 700 year history of The Gentry, arguing that it is the history of this yeoman class that makes England what it is today.

Frances Osborne, author of The Bolter, will talk about her new novel Park Lane.

Ian Rankin talks about his writing including his latest title, The Impossible Dead.

Anne Sebba talks about her biography of Wallis Simpson, The Duchess of Windsor, That Woman.

Lionel Shriver, Orange Prizewinning author, will talk about his latest work, The New Republic.

Helen Simpson talks about her short stories.

David Starkey discusses the House of Windsor.

Kate Summerscale will talk about her latest book Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady. Her Samuel Johnson Prize Winning The Suspicions of Mr Whicher is available in large print.

John Lewis-Stempel will talk about his biography of James Herriot, The Young Herriot. We would love to have provided a link to the large print edition of this book, published in April this year but unfortunately it also went out of print in April this year! Just one of the daft vagaries of our life as large print booksellers – see our blog on the subject here.

Rebecca Stott will discuss her new book on Darwin’s predecessors. In the meantime her novel, The Coral Thief is available in large print.

Sue Townsend, a great champion for the visually impaired, will be talking about her latest novel, The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year. Her Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years is available in hardback and paperback in large print.

Kate Williams talks about her latest novel Beautiful Lies.
Jeanette Winterson talks about her autobiography, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

The Large Print Bookshop Guide to CrimeFest 2012

Those who like crime fiction and thrillers are well-served by the large print publishers with over 50% of the authors at CrimeFest being available in large print.

CrimeFest 2012 to be held in Bristol later this month from the 24th to 27th May looks like being a wonderful and stimulating occasion.

This, the fifth, festival seems to be going from strength to strength. I am still hoping to be able to attend some of the sessions (most are already sold out), if I can get away from the office. Maybe next year the Large Print Bookshop should have a presence.

We are particularly pleased to have played a part in persuading ReadHowYouWant to work with PD James to bring back some of her titles in to large print.

We provide links below to books by all the listed authors. You can find the CrimeFest website itself here

Sunday, 6 May 2012

BBC Radio 4 Bookclub

Ross Raisin is currently discussing his debut novel, God's Own Country with James Naughtie.

This book is available in large print - one of the very few discussed on this programme that are.

Find further details here

Friday, 4 May 2012

New books in large print from WF Howes

Over recent months we have become increasingly impressed with the publishing programme of WF Howes and they have a good balance of award winners, fiction and non-fiction and classics.

We have just received the May titles and you can find out more details about these nineteen here:

Click on the author’s name hyperlink to see all the titles that we list by that author; click on the title to go straight to that particular book.
Crime and Thrillers

Greg Hurwitz, The Survivor

General Fiction

Alexander Maksik, You Deserve Nothing, a TV Book Club Best Reads of 2012
Kate Grenville, Sarah Thornhill

Kathy Lette, The Boy Who Fell To Earth

Christie Watson, Tiny Sunbirds Far Away, Winner of the Costa First Novel Award 2011
Lauren Groff, Arcadia

Ismail Kadare, The Accident

Historical Fiction / Thriller

Lloyd Shepherd, The English Monster
Romantic Fiction

Paranormal Romance

Melissa Marr, Graveminder


Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Non Fiction

Julia Fox, Sister Queens – Katherine of Aragon and Juana, Queen of Castile


Thursday, 3 May 2012

Houston – we have a problem, and it’s getting worse


The specialist large print publishers (eg Ulverscroft, WF Howes, AudioGo) buy rights from the mainstream publisher or the author’s literary agent to publish a large print edition for five years.

All the specialist large print publishers produce some really appealing titles and some real dross (which it would be invidious to mention by name).

The trouble is that the dross doesn’t sell well and hangs around for the full five years. But our problem is that the good titles, especially the really good titles, are going out of print not just in the first year of the five year license but in the first month.

One publisher which has a much more enlightened attitude is WF Howes. I was speaking to their Chief Executive Officer, Shaun Sibley, at the London Book Fair last month and he told me that their policy is to ensure that all titles in large print are kept available for the full five-year term. They do this by using very short print runs or single-copy print on demand technology after their initial print run is exhausted.

This is the perfect use of print on demand technology. The idea for arose as a result of a visit organised by the IPG (Independent Publishing Guild) to Lightning Source, the major print-on-demand printer, owned by the largest book wholesaler in the world, Ingram, in June 2004.

I should go back to see Lightning Source’s bigger and better facility in the UK, but what I saw in 2004 made a massive impression on me. Vast laser printers printing three titles of differing format and extent onto a seven mile roll of paper; turning the roll and passing it through a second printer so that the reverse pages could be printed; separating the three books into separate piles and creating book blocks ready to be bound with the full-colour cover which had been printed simultaneously on a separate machine. All happening at phenomenal speed, but the thing that amazed me the most was that 80% of all they were printing were single-copy orders. As I say, absolutely brilliant for large print books.

But consider the problem we are having with titles going out of print almost as soon as they are published (in some cases we do not even get one copy because all stock has been sold prior to publication date).

In December, a title I expected to become one of our big Christmas sellers, Victoria Hislop’s The Thread went out of print in the month of publication. (In this instance we will get a second chance as the paperback edition is coming in June).

Mark Logue’s The King’s Speech went out of print in both hardback and paperback in their respective months of publication.

Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse went out of print shortly before the Steven Spielberg film was launched.

There are many other titles that we could keep selling throughout the licensing period, such as Gervase Phinn’s Roads to the Dales; and the award winning Edward de Waal’s The Hare with the Amber Eyes, only published in large print last September but now out of print in hardback and paperback.

Such behaviour is bizarre in the current tough business climate. Actually, it would be bizarre at any time, but large print publishers are a breed apart.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Large Print Publishing as a Sausage Machine

All the specialist large print publishers in the UK are only interested in selling to the public library market, and they all have some incentive scheme to make ordering easy.

For example if you commit to buy one copy of each WF Howes title for a year (19 titles a month) you will make a saving of 20%; Ulverscroft offer a similar scheme whereby you can save 10% or 15%. AudioGo offer something similar.

The consequence of such schemes might be good for the publisher, and might make the librarian’s job easier, but they also have a number of adverse consequences.

Libraries have different demographics just as bookshops do, and family sagas might sell better in one part of the country than another.

The element of choice is taken out of the librarian’s hands. They just take what is offered.

With budget restrictions, a commitment to such an incentive plan might mean that the whole budget is placed with, say, Ulverscroft, rather than spread amongst the publishers. For example under one of the Ulverscroft schemes you can purchase £9,807 worth of large print books for £8,336 (624 books).  I am certain you could make a more interesting and appealing selection by picking and choosing amongst other publishers.

With a guaranteed sale, there is no incentive for the publisher to publish at the most appropriate time. For example when Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol was eagerly awaited in 2009 it was published on both sides of the Atlantic on the same day in September 2009, in time for Christmas. In America, the large print edition was published on the same day, and in the UK the unabridged audiobook version was published on that day. However, the UK large print edition was published the following February, long after the reviews had appeared and interest had subsided.

It would be good to see librarians fight back and opt to use their expertise and training to select the most appropriate titles for their library.

About one third of the 25,000 titles on our website are POD (print on demand) titles which means that they are published by someone other than the main large print publishers. This number is growing and comprises books published in large print by literary agents doing the best for the literary estates that they represent; backlist titles for which there is enduring interest – eg ReadHowYouWant issued two PD James backlist titles late last year as a test with a view to bringing the rest of her output into print (A Certain Justice and The Murder Room); the enduring out of copyright classics, such as Dickens, Hardy and Austen and, just out of copyright, The Great Gatsby, a book which regularly features in lists of favourites, and for which a major film is about to be released.

Less than 1.5% of new titles are published in large print. One day mainstream publishers will realise that they can do their own large print editions (using POD technology) for some of the 98.5% of books that are not currently published in large print and that these titles could sell just as well as any for which they sell rights.

For example, for the past few years we check books shortlisted for prestigious prizes, be they the Man Booker, the Orange, the Daggers, etc and the vast majority of titles shortlisted are never published in large print.

There could be worthwhile pickings for the mainstream publishers and great benefits for the 5% of the reading public who cannot read conventional print.