Readers of large print books are very poorly served by mainstream publishers like Penguin and Random House, and by literary agents. In this digital age many more books should be available in large print. At the moment less than 1.5% of all books published are also produced in large print.
Of those that are produced many go out of print almost as soon as they are published. (Eg Victoria Hislop’s The Thread was published in hardback last November but went out of print in early December – it would have been our big Christmas book last year; this year, the paperback edition went out of print last month – it would have been our big Christmas book this year).
Very few literary agents are looking after their author’s interests as diligently as they should. It always mystifies me as to why large print publishing is so little regarded by publishers and agents. One sees so many books published which are destined for the remainder table as publishers try to reach new markets, but they ignore a large and growing section of the population who loved reading, want to continue to do so, but are unable to because of failing eyesight.
The digital technology that enables publishers to print a book only when they receive an order for that book (print-on-demand or POD) is ideal for large print books. POD means that a book need never go out of print – we could be happily selling The Thread if the publisher had decided to keep it in print.
Hats off then to one literary agent, Pollinger Limited, who started their own imprint, Pollinger in Print, to make some of their authors’ work available in large print, using POD. They have some 40 books available in large print.
Some of these are from perennial bestsellers like HE Bates, which you can find here. We are very aware that many of the elderly visually impaired want to revisit favourite books and authors from the past but very little backlist titles are available in large print, so this initiative is particularly welcome.
But the major emphasis of the Pollinger in Print titles is books for children, particularly teenagers: a market that is particularly ignored by the mainstream large print publishers.
A favourite author, appealing to this age range is Vera Chapman, founder of the Tolkien Society whose three books in large print would be particularly popular with Tolkien fans. You can find them here: King Arthur’s Daughter; The King’s Damosel; and The Green Knight.
One author whom they are particularly proud to support is Susan Holliday whose books are aimed at adolescents on the cusp of adulthood. In fact her latest book is a Pollinger original, Fifteen and Falling, is one that staff felt as passionate about as the author herself who wrote:
"I wrote FIFTEEN AND FALLING because I thought there might be something of value in turning my own experience into a fictional story for young adults of today. It is a tale about friendship and drug- taking, two things that have not changed over the years.
Some time ago in our leafy country town, there were young people who were not only experimenting with drugs but for whom drug-taking became a way of life. Families, including my own, were in disarray. Several children disappeared for a while and one or two died. Many survived, sometimes suffering from long lasting effects. There were others who became marvellous adults and channelled their experience into helping others.
FIFTEEN AND FALLING is no morality tale. It is a fictional realistic account of two friends who, at an emotionally difficult time of their lives, succumb to the controlling influence of their drug addict boyfriends. They live in a squat in London but are eventually made homeless. It is their friendship, talent and vision that finally lead them back to a fulfilling life."
You can find a full list of her titles here.
Peter Clover, whose four titles are particularly appropriate for pony-loving children.
Philip Gross, the sinister Facetaker.
Frances Mary Hendry, a teacher for 20 years, has written 16 books, four of them available in large print. You can find more details about the four here, and if you would like to learn more about the author, visit her website here.
Valerie Thame, three books involving witches.
Gary Paulsen, the prolific author of fiction for boys, has written a tongue-in-cheek memoir, ideal for teenagers who want an adrenalin rush:
How Angel Peterson Got His Name is a nonfiction, young adult memoir written by Gary Paulsen, outlining the hilarious, and often dangerous stunts Paulsen and his friends pull in order to entertain themselves and impress the young ladies. All of the tales in this book are about the true adventures of Paulsen and his friends during the mid-1950s.
Bette Paul, another prolific author with 25 years’ teaching experience, has three books available in large print.
Allan Frewin Jones: The Mole and Beverley Miller. "One of the most believable, emotionally gripping and real teen novels I've read for a long time" Stephanie Nettell, The Guardian
Helen Magee: has six comic books for children available in large print.
Brandon Robshaw: Georgina and the Dragon.
Another genre that is severely underrepresented in large print is books relating to sport, but Pollinger have made available Wasim Khan’s Brimful of Passion, the story of the first Pakistani born in this country to make it as a county cricketer.