Tuesday, July 31, 2012


E-books A Treasure Trove For Dyslexic Readers

The E-book Revolution And Dyslexic Readers: 3 million books published in 2011

When I was growing up as a child with dyslexia, books, magazines and newspapers were out of my reach to read. I would sit longingly watching others who spent many hours reading to their hearts content. The only real alternative for reading books was the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. NLS provided audiobooks for free for individuals who qualified for their services. In those days audiobooks were almost impossible to acquire. As a dyslexic individual NLS was and is still not available! Dyslexic individuals do not qualify for NLS services. My reading difficulties were due to dyslexia and not to my poor vision.

Because of my poor vision, I qualified for NLS services, All of my pleasure reading was done with NLS audiobooks. One of the difficulties with the NLS collection was the limited choice of books to read. Mind you NLS had lots of books on cassette tape to read. The problem was finding something that really interested me. I didn't want to read Ernest Hemingway, the poetry of e.e. cummings, or the best mystery stories of 1980. I want to read about technology and science.

Finally, technology advanced enough so I was able to scan print books onto my computer and turn them into audiobooks for myself. I liked using ABBY FineReader OCR software to digitize print books and Nextup's TextAloud to turn the digitized books into mp3 audiobooks. I literally scanned hundreds of books in order to read them. In this way I was able to read the books that interested me. I often like to read books on technology, the information age, and economics.

For many years e-books remained very marginal. We can thank Amazon.com for making e-books part of our daily lives. In December 2007 Amazon launched their Kindle e-reader. Amazon made hundreds of thousands of e-books available for their Kindle. In February 2009 Amazon came out with a Kindle 2 with built-in text-to-speech which could read books aloud. All of the major publishers and the Authors Guild objected to making their books available to read using text-to-speech. Fortunately, the Kindle store now has over a million books and 99% of the Kindle books are enabled for text-to-speech.

Today things have even gotten better. With the e-book revolution millions of books are available in electronic format ready to read. To the horror of the publishers and authors, we can thank Google for digitizing millions of out of copyright books and making them available for free. I have actually read a number of books on yoga, mysticism, hypnosis and education that were published around 1900. All of them AVAILABLE and FREE thanks to Google.

I have an Apple iPad. With my iPad's build in text-to-speech, I now have millions of books available to me to read. Additionally through the Internet every day, I now read e-magazines and e-newspapers. My iPad allows me to sit back in my La-Z-Boy and read books and newspapers just like any other individual.

The new e-book revolution is good news for anyone with dyslexia. Publishers have been reluctant to convert or sell their books in e-book format. In 2003 approximately 300,000 new books were published by publishers in the United States. Almost none of these titles were available as e-books or as audiobooks. In 2011 publishers still only published approximately 300,000 new titles. However, 2,700,000 additional new books were published by non-publisher supported authors. These 2,700,000 titles were self-published. In 2012 it is estimated that 15,000,000 titles will be created. Yes, that's 15 million, as in million, new books will be written and available! Again probably only 300,000 will be published by the standard publishers. The big publishers face the following situation. Either they will also make their books available as e-books which can easily be read and accessible to technology like text-to-speech or they will simply go out of existence.

For a person like myself, who must read everything in digital format, this many books is exciting news. I've spent the majority of my life locked out of the book world. With my Apple iPad, I now have the world of print available to me. Young dyslexic readers will never know the poverty of selection which I grew up with. My final word is, "bring on the books!"

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