The other day I went to the library to pick up some books I had put on hold for myself. One of them turned out to be the large print version of the book, I guess I had not read the full description of the book in the online library catalog and had ordered up the large print version instead of the regular version.
Ah well, no worries, I am getting to the age when large print is probably a bonus anyway. So I started thumbing through the book as I usually do when I get a book from the library, to get the gist of the book. I order so many books 'on spec' that it often turns out that the gist of the book is not really something I want to spend any more time on, so that quick summary reading is quite often the only reading I do of many of the books I order.
Well here's the thing I noticed. Large print turns out to be not so easy to read after all. I think this is a book I am actually going to want to read in more detail, but I think it's going to be a tough slog with the large print version.
When I was a technical writer we used to pay a lot of attention to making text readable, whether by using simple direct language, formatting content in small chunks, using easy-to-read typefaces and font sizes, or by laying the text out in a pleasing manner on the page. There are a number of things you can do, and it does make a difference. With technical material you want to make your text as easy to read as possible because often the content is not so easy but is important to understand.
The problem with the large print I quickly found was that in order to keep the size of the book down even though the print was larger than usual, they have crowded every page as full as they can. There is hardly any margin space and no space between paragraphs. The text looks really dense. And as your eyes follow each line, it is really easy to lose track of which line you are reading because they all look the same, there is no white space anywhere to give you a sense of where you are on the page.
I realize that they make large print books for people who are visually impaired and for older people who are often visually challenged. Some folks have serious impairments that make them legally blind, and I can understand that white space is probably irrelevant to them. But for the rest of us who just have trouble with small print, they have sacrificed other readability factors such as white space, and I find that counterproductive.
I will manage to read this book anyway, but it will be a tough slog. Note to self: avoid large print books!
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