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Reading Options When Sight Is an Issue

By Pam Lamp February 19, 2022 Lifestyle

Thanks to an issue with my right eye, I struggle to read an actual book. As problems go, it’s a tiny one. It’s also solvable. 

I read newspapers and magazines on a tablet. For books, I rely on my trusty Kindle. With both devices, I can adjust the font size, lighting, and contrast. I know I’m not the only one who has difficulty navigating traditionally published and printed books.

We’re lucky to live in a time where we have so many choices for our reading pleasure…

Large Print Books

The good news? Large print books are in demand, so they do still exist. The bad news? They are expensive for publishers to print and customers to purchase. In recent years, publishing houses have offered fewer and fewer large print options in their catalogs. “The choices are becoming more precious,” said one bookseller.

There is no concise directory of available large print titles for readers to browse online. Bookstores don’t have access to one either. 

If we desire a current historical fiction novel or thriller or non-fiction book, a reader’s best bet is to contact a local independent bookseller. If a customer calls or visits a bookstore with a list of titles they’d like to read, booksellers can quickly determine if a large print edition is offered.

They’re happy to order the book but be warned. Although the book will likely be in paperback form, it will sport a hefty hardcover price.

Although I discovered an online large print bookseller and a large print book club, both offer limited titles, plus fees or high price tags. 

The online behemoth, Amazon, seems to offer the most titles for the best prices. With some persistence, I located bestsellers like Cloud Cuckoo Land, The Giver of Stars, and Where the Crawdads Sing in large print formats.

On Amazon’s website, search large print books and browse from there. OR, go to a specific title, click on SEE ALL FORMATS AND EDITIONS, and click on PAPERBACK to see if the book is available in large print. 

In my quest for large print titles, I hit the jackpot at the local library. When I inquired about large print books, the delighted librarian directed me to a vast section of titles. Although the shelves didn’t seem to house recent bestsellers, the great variety of books was sure to interest readers of all sorts.

I spotted a wide assortment of biographies and titles by popular authors David Baldacci, Mary Kay Andrews, Elin Hilderbrand, Lisa Genova, Robyn Carr, and James Patterson.

eBook Readers

I’m not trying to sell you an eBook reader but, with my eye issue, my Kindle has been my savior. Many readers love to curl up with a physical book, study the cover design, and flip back through the pages to recall a character or scene. And I get that. 

Although Amazon’s Kindle dominates the digital reader market, this article offers a nice comparison of eBook readers. It comes as no surprise that the newer, more expensive versions offer faster page-turning, water resistance, and better contrast. I read on a Kindle Paperwhite, which sells for $120—about the same amount as five large print books. 

Like anything else, the more you use and play around with the device, the more comfortable you become with its features. Readers may adjust the font type and size and screen brightness and instantly see how many minutes are left in a chapter. My favorite feature is the built-in dictionary. Press on the unknown word, and a definition pops up. I also highlight quotes or facts and take notes for future book review articles.

If two family members own Kindles, books may be shared. No need to purchase separate copies of the same book. 

Through your public library, browse their online eBook selection and select a title delivered straight to your Kindle. All you need is a library card. 

When I interviewed author Susie Orman Schnall, she introduced me to BookBub, a service (free!) alerting readers to fabulous deals on eBooks. How I love receiving my daily email recommending a handful of books – tailored to my preferences – priced at $1.99 or $2.99. And don’t skip over the Wish List section. Maintain a list of titles you’d love to read, and BookBub will notify you when the eBook goes on sale. 

Audio Books

Many readers love their audiobooks. They pop in headphones while cooking or gardening or flaneuring. Listen in a car or bus or plane. Sit back, relax, and get lost in a story read to them.

Audible leads the pack, but this article outlines various audiobook subscription services. It compares monthly fees and the trial periods, which all services seem to offer. 

For those readers wishing to support their local independent bookstore, Libro.fm is a pricey but worthwhile option. The downside? Subscribers must have a U.S. or Canadian credit card. 

A good starting point is Overdrive and Libby, free services connected to local libraries. If you need assistance, your librarian can assist you with setting up these options. All you need is a library card!

Once in place, readers may borrow, place holds, and receive audiobooks, eBooks, and magazines from the comfort of their homes. Libby and Overdrive are not available in all countries, and the waiting list can be long for recent releases and bestsellers. 

Do you prefer actual books, an e-reader, or audiobooks? What is your primary source for books? Do you have any tips for readers with sight issues?

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The Author

For more than three years, Pamela Lamp has explored one new thing – every single day. At https://whoimettoday.com/, she writes about these discoveries and the wonderful people, places, and things in our world. A book, beach, and animal person, Pam lives in Nashville with her husband.

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