nancylebov (nancylebov) wrote,

The other barrier

seanan_mcguire posted about the importance of paper books for poor people. Books can be resold and don't require infrastructure.

There's another barrier which I haven't seen discussed much, and that's literacy. There are plenty of poor people who read well, but illiteracy is more likely to be common among poor people.

It seems as though there should be video for teaching adults to read-- possibly even competently produced and entertaining.

This isn't just for poor people-- illiteracy is so embarrassing that people are apt to conceal it. Video can be viewed in privacy.

There's a common belief that people can't learn to read as adults, but I have no idea what it's based on. The belief has been around since I was a kid, and should probably be revisited.

I also don't know to what extent illiterate people can use existing electronic media-- it seems as though the facilities for blind people would be enough with a little hand-holding to get started.

And one more issue, though I'm not sure how important it is. Non-fiction is likely to be more expensive than fiction. It's less likely to come out in cheap editions, and less likely to become cheap if used. This might just be an accurate measure of the demand, but it kind of gets to me.

I've been waiting for small presses to be able to produce mass-market-sized paper backs competitively, but I don't know whether it's even on the horizon. Weirdly, the prices for trade paperbacks don't seem wildly different between large and small presses. The prices for hard covers seem higher from small presses, but maybe they're aiming at the collector's market for that format. It's even possible that I'm not quite right about the trade paperbacks-- they're hard to evaluate because the sizes and prices vary.

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