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. 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.

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