'Thank God I can read books now'
AL ZAGOFSKY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Standing in front of the new large-print section of the Dimmick Library in Jim Thorpe, director Susan Sterling holds copies of Stephen King's "Under the Dome" in both standard and large-print versions. Although the type on the large-print version is about 50-percent larger, it has the same cover size and is thinner than the standard edition.
"Thank God I can read books now," said a patron of the Dimmick Memorial Library in Jim Thorpe about the wide selection of large print best-sellers that are now available.
"People have been asking about large print books," said Susan Sterling, director of the Dimmick Memorial Library. "They were always hard to find.
"Originally, we just had the large print books, what few we had, incorporated with the regular fiction books. Then, we joined a program where we are getting the top three best selling books in the nation every month in large print format."
Once a number of these books were received, the Dimmick staff decided that, to make the large print books more accessible, they should have their own section instead of intermingling them with the regular fiction titles.
The new section is starting out with 120 large print books by best-selling authors Dick Francis, Stephen King, Robin Cook, Patricia Cornwell, Clive Cussler, Sara Paretsky, and Robert B. Parker.
"The library belongs to a program that sends us automatically, at a discount, the three best-sellers on the Editor's Choice list," Sterling said. "I buy all the best-sellers anyway. This way, I have a regular size best-seller and a large print version."
Print is measured in point size, with one point equal to 1/72 of an inch. The TIMES NEWS is printed in nine point, popular books are 11 point, while large print books are 16 point or larger.
Large print books appeal to seniors, readers requiring prescription glasses, struggling and reluctant readers, English as a second language readers, and speed readers. Because the Dimmick Library purchases a large-print copy at the same time as a best-seller, a second copy of newly-released popular books is available.
Ironically, the Jim Thorpe library owes the introduction of the large print book to another Thorpe, Frederick Thorpe of Leicester, England.
In 1964, A retired book and magazine distributor, he decided to reprint classic books about twice the size of the original printing to meet the needs of poor-sighted readers.
These oversized editions were difficult to handle, so in 1969 Thorpe's company, Ulverscroft, began to reset the books in 16-point type and printed them in standard-sized bindings.
As these volumes readily fit on existing shelving, they were more readily accepted in public libraries.
Thorpe became a large-print evangelist, traveling around the English-speaking world promoting the acquisition of large-print books.
In 1980, Thorndike Press of Waterville Maine, now a division of Gale, Cengage Learning, decided to address the needs of the more than 20-million partially blind Americans by publishing large-print library collections.
They are members of the National Association for Visually Handicapped. NAVH founder Lorraine Marchi called Thorndike Press "one of the leading publishers in the large print field."
Earlier this year, the company approached the Dimmick Library, offering them high quality large-print unabridged best-sellers at discount prices.
Books are printed at a standard size of 5-by-8-inches and have a laminated hardcover that serves as an integral dust jacket.
Amazingly, although Thorndike's large-print books have more pages than conventional books, a conventional copy of Stephen King's Under the Dome is 1,074 pages versus 1,415 pages for the large-print edition.
The large-print edition is over 10 percent thinner than the standard edition.
The large-print editions circulate for two weeks, the same as other books in their collection.
The Dimmick Library has made a commitment to maintain the quality of its services and materials in the face of the economic downturn an- significant budget cuts.
It is a private library and depends on an increasing amount of support from its patrons to keep the library functioning.