Monday, July 19, 2010

An Open Letter to the Publishing Industry

RE: Large Print Books

I am here to vent about an ongoing problem in libraries; the inability to get large print versions of popular books. If a book becomes popular after the initial print run, the large print goes out of print and libraries, AKA library patrons, AKA taxpayers, are screwed.

For instance, my library currently has 193 reserves on the large print version of Sarah's Key by Tatiana DeRosnay. We own 6 large print copies and are currently filling reserves that were placed last February. We would gladly buy more, but it is out of print. Amazon.com has 2 used copies for sale at $280 each!

I had spoken to someone at Random House a few years ago about this when we had a similar problem with one of their books (I forgot which, sorry) and was told they were looking into some sort of print on demand for large print books. Apparently it never came to pass.

There has been some progress made in large print publishing. Many of the larger publishing houses are now producing their own large print books which come out at the same time as the regular print. The rest are farmed out to large print publishers like Thorndike or Wheeler, they of the ugly covers and publishing dates a year after the regular print books hit the shelves.

Hey, publishers, you are missing the boat here! In case you've all been taking your meetings under a rock, the population in the United States is aging. Does the fact that the fastest growing age group on Facebook is now 65+ mean nothing to you? Baby boomers are aging and you can bet more and more of them are going to need large print books.

In these days of economic downturn and sluggish sales across the board, why aren't publishers leaping at the chance to sell more books? If my library needs another 30+ copies of Sarah's Key, I'd bet there are other libraries that do as well - most of which cannot and will not purchase used, $280 copies.

Is there some sort of explanation that I'm missing? I'd love to hear from publishers about this.

11 comments:

Nicole MacDonald said...

this sucks for my nana too. At 86 she doesn't get about as much and would like to read but normal print gives her a headache. And she's read all the large print available at our libraries

Anonymous said...

I agree! I just discovered that Book 8 in a series won't be available in Large Print because it's "holiday themed" !!!

What kind of thinking is that? This story is integral to the series as a whole, not just a standalone holiday title.

Also, I don't understand why some books can be released in Large Print at the same time as the original format (I see this a lot in paperback) but others take up to a year to do so.

Don't publishers understand that Large Print serves a different audience, willing and even eager to read (and therefore, BUY) the stories? Why do they think that doling it out on such a parsimonious basis is good for their business?

LynneW
another frustrated librarian

Lesa said...

Stacy,

I totally agree with you. When our book club does a book, the facilitator always tries to get 2 or 3 large print copies. Those readers want to read the current bestsellers, just like all the other readers. Yes, I think someone is missing the boat. And, that's a population that would probably rather read a large print book than an ebook.

Thanks for the "rant."

Lesa - www.lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com

Lesa said...

Stacy,

I totally agree with you. When our book club does a book, the facilitator always tries to get 2 or 3 large print copies. Those readers want to read the current bestsellers, just like all the other readers. Yes, I think someone is missing the boat. And, that's a population that would probably rather read a large print book than an ebook.

Thanks for the "rant."

Lesa - www.lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com

dg said...

You are correct. Large Print is very high demand in my library. I am a small rural system with an even smaller budget. Given the choice between large print and regular print I always buy the LP. I would like, as would my patrons, to have the opportunity to choose. And, given the choice between two different titles and publishers for my limited funds -- the LP one will always win. I have too many demands and not enough funds to fill them -- I must pick the book that meets the most needs. Plus, I am an aging baby boomer and I can tell you -- LP is great for tired eyes at the end of a long day!

Liz B said...

Agreed!

And try finding large print for children and teens.

One slight help in the future: ebooks, because you can increase the size of the font to large print. Current drawback: you can only do it for the book itself. Not the menus, ordering information, etc. I assume large print has a low profit for publishers, because when Kindle/Nook introduced this, the publishers did not give them a hard time, not like they did with text to audio.

Charlee said...

Thank you! Try to order a replacement for a damaged large print title and you'll find they're only available for 6-9 months, then out of print. My other gripe: When will SciFi titles be offered in large print? I've got a strong SciFi boomer contingent and nothing to offer the ones who need large print!

Anonymous said...

I agree!! It seems that lots of titles just aren't available in Large Print. We did a Large Print display and our Large Print items circulated 300 more titles than the previous month. There is a HUGE demand for Large Print. Publishers, please wake up and smell the coffee!

Deborah said...

Great discussion. I'm looking at our LP collection, trying to update it. In the pastit's been heavily romances but we're finding more and more people want current bestsellers and MORE NONFICTION PLEASE.

Chris Burgess said...

Hi All,
Here at we are all about making more large print titles available along with other accessible formats. We have thousands of large print titles available and more agreements with publishers coming all the time - check it out.
Chris Burgess, GM ReadHowYouWant

Charity @ ACLA said...

After much searching today: /Sarah's Key/ is available as print on demand for $23.95 through Thorndike. They ship within 10 business days. http://thorndike.gale.com

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