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Large print breakthrough

6 April 2009

Working with the Publishers' Licensing Society, the Royal National Institute for the Blind in the UK has initiated and funded Focus, an £800,000 ($1,187) project to publish large print books. It is publishing the books in association with BBC Audiobooks, Penguin, Random House and HarperCollins.

John Godber, Head of Products and Publications at RNIB, said that it was time for people to stop apologising for their blindness and time for society at large to recognise that blind people were neither 'different' nor 'separate' and had as much right to the pleasures of life as the sighted. Equally, he said, the blind and partially sighted must not expect charity: authors and publishers had to be paid, whatever the format or type size.

Up to now, large print has been the province of a handful of specialist publishers who sold to libraries. It has been hard to find large print books in bookshops. Short run and PoD technology, as well as XML, which allows for the multi-purposing of content, now makes large print books commercially viable for both producers and consumers.

Author Karin Slaughter has said: 'Reading is a gift that should not be denied anyone and books should be in large print if that helps more people enjoy their pastime'. In the UK there are around two million people suffering significant sight loss. It's estimated that around 100 people every day in the UK will start to lose their sight - and by no means in all cases is the loss age-related.

US figures show that 1.3 million Americans are legally blind' of which 55,200 are children, and a further '5.5 million are visually impaired'.

All round the world, those whose sight is impaired include many keen readers who have lost access to something of immense importance to them, the ability to pick up a book and read it. Your sight doesn't need to be significantly impaired for you to find print size a factor when you are buying a book, but for those who need large print to read comfortably it will be good news that large print books are becoming available in bookshops.

Focus launches with seven new and recently published titles by big-name authors from HarperCollins, Random House and Penguin, including novels by Clive Cussler, Karin Slaughter, Cathy Kelly, Ruth Rendell and Barbara Taylor Bradford, in large print trade paperback versions. A further 46 titles will be available on a print-on-demand basis and they will all sell for £12.99 or £16.99.

The scheme is backed by a £150,000 advertising campaign, including high street posters and national press advertising, and a PR drive handled by agency Colman Getty.

If you are a self-publisher and want to make your work available in a large print edition, this is relatively easy and fairly inexpensive to do and you will find a ready market for your book in an area where there is little competition.

Our article on books for the visually impaired

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