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HarperLuxe - A New Take on Large Print
By Rochelle Caviness - December 22, 2006

HarperCollins Publishers recently launched a new line of paperback large print books that are being printed under the moniker of HarperLuxe. The main text in these books is printed in a dark, crisp, and easily readable 14-point font size accompanied by wide margins. The HarperLuxe large print format also includes ample space between each word, and between each line, making it easier and more comfortable to read. As important, the text is printed on matte, off-white paper that greatly reduces glare and eyestrain and the paper used helps to minimize bleed-through of the print from the next page.

Large print books have, for a long time, suffered from an identity crisis. In part, this crisis has arisen simply because there is no standard for what constitutes a large print book. One the one hand, I've seen Bibles printed in an uncipherable 6-point font labeled as large print, and on the other hand I have come across large print books printed in a 48-point font that most people would find uncomfortable to read. On average, however, most books labeled as large print tend to run in the 12-18 point font size range, with 16-point being the most common font size currently in use.

In the past, HarperCollins Publishers has used a 16-point font in their large print books, and when I heard that with their new HarperLuxe line they would be downsized to the slightly smaller 14-point font I was a bit disappointed. However, after reviewing their first offering, Next, by Michael Crichton, I have found that there are numerous advantages to this new format. While the font size is slightly smaller, compared to other large print books, the reader is actually trading-up in many regards. This is because the new format, especially the spacing around words and more space between the lines, actually makes the text more readable than many 16-point font large print books that have little spacing between the words or lines, and almost no margins. Overall, this new format increases the readability of the text by helping to reduce eye strain and the matte, off-white paper eliminates glare problems. (In regard to the text size, most people will have a hard time noticing the difference between a text printed in a 14-point font size versus one in a 16-point font size without making a one on one comparison).

The new HarperLuxe line of large print books will find a ready audience with both visually impaired individuals who require a large print text, as well as by individuals who will benefit from the easy-on-the-eye format. This new line, which is printed in a lightweight, paperback configuration, is well suited for reading in bed, on the train or bus, or other location where you don't want to have to hold, or carry around, a heavy book. In addition, due to the larger print size than that found in standard sized texts, readers will find that they will have less eye strain while reading. In addition, some of you presbyopes out there will discover that you will be able to read these books without your reading glasses and without having to hold the book at arms length. In addition, for those that like to read large print books, but don't like to let others know that they are reading them - these books do not look like traditional large print books. Except for a small notation on the back cover, these books are not marked as large print books.

While the new HarperLuxe line of large print books will be a boon to baby-boomers and others who might need something just a little bigger, in my view, it is the low vision community that will benefit most. From the one book (Next) that I've seen, the text is definitely easier to read than many of the large print books currently available. My personal preference would be to have the books printed in a larger font size (18-point would be nice), however I am happy with the new format and I found that the extra space around the words made the text easier to track and more comfortable to read. The only drawback I found with the book is that it contains several reprints of real-life news articles that are printed, in many cases, in their original, small, print size. While these 'news articles' enhance the story, they are not an integral component of the book and can be ignored if you have trouble reading them. This was however, a minor inconvenience in a book whose format was otherwise readily accessible for individuals with low vision who require or desire large print materials.

Another benefit of the HarperLuxe line is that most of the titles in this line will be printed at the same time as the standard print, hardcover version - so no more waiting months or longer to read the large print version of that new, must read book! Overall, the HarperLuxe line is a welcome addition to the realm of large print books, and while the books are printed in a slightly smaller font size than normal large print books, most low vision readers will find them an excellent source of reading material.

To learn more about the new HarperLuxe line of large print books, and to preview some of their forthcoming tiles, you can visit them online at:

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