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Read How You Want
Books in Formats to Suit Every Visual Need

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Read How You Want: Books in Formats to Suit Every Visual Need
By Rochelle Caviness - April 27, 2009

Have you ever picked up a book and wished that you could get a copy of the same title, but in a larger font size, or with darker print? Or how about getting the book in an entirely different format such as in Braille or DAISY? Thanks to ReadHowYouWant, you actually can!

Read How You Want (RHYW) is a print-on-demand publisher, based in Australia. Their books can be ordered directly from the www.readhowyouwant.com website as well as from online retailers such as Amazon.com. RHYW currently offers thousands of unabridged books that range from bestsellers to classics, with new titles being added daily. Books are offered in a tantalizing range of formats that include five large print configurations that range from 16-24 point font sizes, as well as audio and MP3, eBooks, DAISY, and Braille formats. They also offer formats designed especially for individuals with a variety of print disabilities including dyslexia and eye-tracking problems. If none of these options suit your needs, they also offer you the option of further customizing your 'book' so that it best suits your individual reading and visual needs. For example, they give you the option of changing the word spacing, or selecting the type size, font, and color to be used in the production of your book. In short, Read How You Want is a tremendous boon to the visually impaired community, their loved-ones, professionals working in the fields of low vision and blindness, and anyone who simply prefers to read their books in a larger than 'standard' font size.

As an avid reader, book reviewer, and VIP (visually impaired person), I've long been frustrated by the publishing industry's decision that large print, at best, equals a sixteen-point font, and nothing larger. Although you do see books printed in smaller font sizes listed as large print - including a bible I found that was advertised as being a large print edition, despite the fact that it was printed in a six-point font! By comparison, most newspaper type is printed using a ten-point font. In my mind, a six-point font is anything but large print, but that is another story. Personally, while I find large print books better than nothing, the print is usually still not big enough for me to read unaided, and I find myself in the predicament of having to use a magnifying aid in order to read a 16-point font sized large print book. Often, it is just not worth the effort. Unlike their competitors who think that one or two print sizes should suffice for everyone, Read How You Want has a unique philosophy. Each reader is unique and has unique reading requirements - so let them pick which font size or format best suits their need, and then publish the book or books they choose in the format they desire. This may seem like a simple idea, but until recently, it was a difficult feat to achieve. However, with the advent of newer print-on-demand technologies and the RHYW's tweaking of XML conversion technologies, this is now practical solution to a long-standing problem.

For those who are blind, or who are dealing with low vision, Read How You Want offers a variety of standardized large print and accessible reading options to choose from. The five large print options that you can choose from include: You may be aware of the science of ergonomics, and the move to modify common objects from chairs to handles so that they are more comfortable to use and so that they can be used more efficiently. The folks at Read How You Want have taken ergonomics a step further and applied it to reading. For example, their large print formats have been optimized for reading ease and comfort, and in the process these formats help to reduce eye strain and to improve reading comprehension.

In addition to print editions, RHYW also offers books in a variety of other accessible formats that are downloaded directly to your computer. These formats include: RHYW's 16 point font size is similar to that found in traditional large print books. However, all the books they publish have been reset to improve the overall readability of the text. Personally, I found that their 16 point, EasyRead Large Bold format to be easier to read than the regular 16 point editions, because the darker print increases the contrast between the type and the page. All the larger font sized editions (18, 20, and 24) are printed in a bold type face. It was an absolute pleasure to take a hold of a copy of The Secret Sharer, by Joseph Conrad, printed in RHYW's EasyRead Super Large 24 point print size, and sit back and effortlessly read a book using nothing more than my glasses as a reading aid!

For the purposes of this article, I was privileged to be able to look at the same book, printed in all five large print formats, and I was universally impressed with the type face, line and word spacing, and in very few instances were words where hyphenated at the end of a line. Hyphenated words are one of my pet peeves because they interfere with my reading speed, and I was please to note that RHYW takes pains to limit the number used. As well, I was equally impressed with the quality of the books. All of the ones I looked at were paperback editions, and the books were printed on high quality, heavy paper that nearly eliminates any shadows from being perceived from the type face on the next page. In fact, if I was not looking very closely for print bleed throughs and shadows from the text on the next page, I do not think that I would have even noticed any shadows at all.

To view font samples, or to download sample chapters in Braille or DAISY formats, visit: www.readhowyouwant.com. There you'll also find a complete list of all their available titles, additional information about Read How You Want, and some handy accessibility tips that will help you efficiently navigate the RHYW website.

According to World Health Organization, more than 161 million people, worldwide, are classified as having a visual impairment. According to Lighthouse Inc., in the United States, one in six Americans (16.5 million people), 45 years of age or older, have a visual impairment that is not corrected by eyeglasses or contacts. By 2010 this number is expected to jump to 20 million. If you look to the 2030, when the last of the Baby Boomers begins to reach age 65, this number is expected to significantly increase! The over 45's are just one segment of America's visually impaired population - so it is easy to imagine just how vital a service such as the one Read How You Want is offering, really is.

I could spend hours detailing just how vital the services being offered by RHYW are. However if you are visually impaired, you already know, and the number don't matter - so I'll not bore you any further with statistical details. What I will tell you is that I've looked at several books published by Read How You Want, and I was thoroughly impressed with the quality of these books, the range of formats offered, and by the range of titles they offer. If you are interesting in reading a book, the way that best suits your needs, check out Read How You Want and see for yourself the range of options, and titles, that they offer. In short, I wholeheartedly recommend Read How You Want - not only to those of you out their dealing with a visual impairment, but also to anyone who knows someone who is!


A word about Buying RHYW's books at Amazon.com: Many of RHYW's books, especially those printed in the larger type faces, are published in multiple volumes in order to keep the book to a manageable size, and each volume of a given book is given its own ISBN number. When you are ordering one of their books through Amazon.com, you will find that each volume in a given book will be listed separately, and must be ordered individually. As such, you need to take care to ensure that you order all the volumes in the book that you want. If you order your RHYW books directly from the RHYW website, you can order all the volumes in a given book, all at once.


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