Friday, 1 June 2012

#269: Fifty Shades of........Large Print

I have Large Print books on the brain.  

These books, designed for aged and aging eyes, have larger, bolder fonts (like this, or perhaps like this).

Right now, it feels as if much of my retirement is ruled by this format because of my volunteering and my occasional shifts at the public library where I was once employed full time.  I’ve been adding over 70 used large print books to the retirement home library, and at my public library, I am working on some book lists featuring large print.  So what with one thing and another, I’ve been examining these hefty tomes a lot.

And here’s the scary thing.  They really are easier to read.  When I go back to regular print my eyes struggle to re-focus.  I can do it, I can read squinchy little print, but it is a lot more work. And why would I punish my peepers when there are books to be had in larger print, well spaced?

Actually, there are a few reasons to avoid those easy-on-the-eyes editions.

The print is bigger but so is the book.  Some of these volumes are truly voluminous. Reading (and holding) the LP version of Jonathan Franzan’s The Corrections counts as weight-bearing exercise.  Besides, large print books are expensive ($50 compared to $25 for a regular hardback)-- unless you borrow them from the library.

But the real impediment for serious readers is lack of choice.  Well known authors of popular material fare well. (I could get Anne Tyler’s The Beginner’s Goodbye in large print, but not the excellent Language of Flowers by newcomer Vanessa Diffenbach.)  Canadian authors rarely get a look-see unless their last name is Atwood.  And then there is the inescapable fact that large print titles are intended for—dare I say-- an elderly readership; publishers often interpret this as a preference for undemanding, chaste prose, and happy endings.  I don’t expect that older women with poor eyesight will be lustfully lingering over the LP version of top bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey any time soon.

What, then, are we to do?  Are we supposed to suddenly develop an insatiable taste for Nicholas Sparks? 

We can keep reading regular print as long as possible—as the populations ages all print will gradually increase in size. Or we can embrace e-readers, that fabulous bit of technology that just happens to coincide, luckily, with my retirement.  I certainly intend to hide behind the pretty cover of my Kindle, adjusting the font to a comfortable level, reading whatever * I want.  *Nudge, Nudge*

* Fifty Shades is $11.51 (Kindle edition).  Or read the Download Library version for free. 


  1. There are also magnifiers. Handy for fine print on medicines and clothing tags and other things that aren't on Kindle. (I don't use them yet, so I don't actually know if there are things they don't work on very well--I'm just guessing. But when I saw one, I thought to myself that I am definitely getting one for myself one day.)

  2. I tried magnifiers once upon a time. They are a nuisance and not as clear as I would have liked. I second the suggestion that seniors get an eReader. ...An unlimited selection of books at whatever font size works for the individual. Plus, they are much lighter to hold than a big print book.

  3. I third the suggestion of ereaders. I hold an ebook help program every week, and it's largely seniors with iPads who show up. iPads are a godsend, as you can easily increase the font size of anything, and the touch screen is much easier for people with arthritis to use than a mouse and keyboard. Or so I hear :)

  4. I think the ebook help program is a wonderful idea.

    I wouldn't mind trading my iTouch for an iPad....!