1. Computing

Reasons To Buy An E-Reader: Special Needs

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e-readers like the NOOK allow for big fonts at the touch of a button

Maximizing the font size on the NOOK.

Image from Barnes & Noble

If you are one of those fence sitters who is considering laying down the cash to invest in an e-reader, but you're not entirely convinced of whether this is a good idea or not, read on. This is the second instalment in a series that outlines in detail some of the key pros (and cons) of making the jump from "dead tree" (or paper) books to e-books. In this second article in the series, I am looking at the benefits of buying an e-reader for people who have difficulties in reading traditional paper books.

Paper books have served us well for centuries, but there have always been some people who have been unable to enjoy reading because of disabilities or the effects of aging. For example, paper books can be heavy, turning pages without losing your place can be difficult for someone who lacks fine motor control and standard font sizes make it difficult for many people to view the text. The response from the publishing industry has been specialized versions of books such as large font editions and books on tape or CD.

E-readers have turned out to be incredibly useful for many people who were otherwise marginalized in terms of reading. 

One of the most obvious benefits has been the ability to adjust the font size of an e-book at will. This development means that any e-book can be made into the equivalent of a large print edition at no additional cost, and returned to displaying regular font size for other readers. Large print edition books produced for people with visual impairments such as macular degeneration often cost more and the selection of titles is small, but with e-books and an e-reader, there are no limitations and no additional cost. Some e-readers allow you to change the font style too, according to preference.

An e-reader is also light and thin, and easy to grasp. Current models are usually lighter than a paperback book and much thinner (typically under half of an inch thick). Progressing through an e-book is a accomplished by pushing a button, a much simpler gesture than physically turning pages (although some models like Sony's Reader Touch and the iPad do incorporate optional page turning gestures if preferred). There is no risk of tearing pages when using an e-reader either, and even the risk of damaging he hardware by dropping it can be largely mitigated by using a protective cover.

Even the audio book is seeing some competition. Although not all publishers allow it, and the built-in voice lacks the inflection and variety of a human narrator, Kindle's Read-to-Me function allows this e-reader to read content out loud. 

Each generation of e-reader released continues to improve the user experience, but already e-readers and e-books have had a positive impact on many people who may have become frustrated with the experience of reading. An e-reader may be more convenient to use, offer more selection and end up saving money as well.

 

 

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