Seeking ideas for reading

I don’t think there are a lot of readers of my blog, but I’m hoping to get some input anyway. I’m hoping for some economical ideas for getting reading material that doesn’t involve borrowing through the library.

My challenge is that the visual acuity in my right eye is not so great for reading right now, and it may never be. As I’ve written previously, I’m dealing with a disease (I.C.E. Syndrome) in my right eye that causes swelling of the cornea and distortion of my vision. My current prescription in my progressive lens eyeglasses isn’t working for me anymore, and since the vision in my eye isn’t stable enough right now, it doesn’t make sense to get a new prescription yet. Even with a new prescription, it’s questionable how long it will be helpful to me, since this is a progressive disease.

Thankfully, the challenges I’ve faced with screen work have been addressed with the addition of a large smart TV used as a monitor, and/or using the built in app options for zooming or re-sizing items on the laptop screen. But I’m continuing to struggle when it comes to reading books.

My brain has had to go through a bit of re-training for reading, and it has become less exhausting and stressful than it used to be even just a couple months ago. However, it’s still more challenging for me to read a regular book than an ebook. With ebooks, I can blow up the text and adjust the backlighting as needed. Standard print books are things I can only read in very good lighting.

The local library is great, but the selection of ebooks is limited. I’ve asked at the local library about large print books, and they are available if I am patient about waiting for them to be located within the lending system. With large print books, I have two issues to reconcile, though: additional delay, and the bulk factor. Books in general are bulky, and large print ones tend to be even bulkier. For just sitting at home and reading, this could be OK, but I like to read on the go. I take public transit as much as possible, and reading is a great way to pass the time.

For my purposes, ebooks are really the best option. I can read them on my phone, which has a large screen (it’s an iPhone 6+), plus the benefit of resizable text in whatever reading app the ebook format requires. I always have my phone with me, so there’s no extra bulk to deal with (and that’s a bonus right now when I’m limited by how much I can lift and carry.)

There are some ebook subscription services, but the reviews and news raise a lot of doubts.

This Kindle Unlimited review notes that many best sellers are missing from their catalog. I do read some bestselling authors, and I’d like to have access to their books.

Oyster shut down.

Scribd made some big changes to its catalog last year (limiting romance books and audio book access) raising questions about the sustainability of its business model, and speculation about how much longer it will be around.

Are there other options? Maybe someone out there has an idea for me that allows me to supplement the limited supply of ebooks available through my local library and not spend more than my current book budget of $10 a month.

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20 thoughts on “Seeking ideas for reading

  1. I’m not really “up” one books or large print ones. You can tell because I put up in quotation marks to show how unhip I am.

    Have you considered audio books? Our online library selection is at least 1/3 audio books. They’d at least be good backup when you want a story but your eyes need a break. And it doesn’t matter what size device you’re on for those.

    But if you do plan to do the ebook thing, I think Kindle is probably the best cost efficient option. I love the iPads I’ve had, but one was a gift and the other I won in a contest. I couldn’t bring myself to pay this much for a secondary computer.

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    • I haven’t been a big consumer of audio books. I can zone out and miss stuff when I’m listening instead of reading. But with this eye problem, I may just need to learn to pay attention better. Also, the local library doesn’t have a lot of audiobooks in their catalog, either.

      I have the Kindle app on my phone and prefer it over the other reading apps I have: iBooks and Nook. Marvin used to be an awesome app for DRM free books until a iOS update last year broke it’s ability to interact with Calibre.

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  2. Have you checked with organizations or non-profits that provide materials for people with visual impairments? I’m not personally familiar with any particular organization, but they might be a starting point. And some of their items may be at a reduced price or free (depending on your degree of visual impairment). At least they may give you some ideas where to find what you’re looking for.

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    • No, I haven’t checked into that. I’m not so impaired that I can’t read a regular book at all, it’s just that it fatigues my brain because it has to work harder, not to mention the light conditions have to be amazing. I’m really grateful I have a couple Ottlites already. I’m holding out some hope that the disease won’t progress so much that I lose all vision in that eye.

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      • Lighthouse for the blind serves people with all kinds of vision impairments (you don’t have to be blind). They also provide other supports related to daily living. You might also contact organizations that support people with dyslexia. They are more likely to have audio books but may have a larger library of large print books. Both groups tend to have low bars for participation.

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  3. I came here to suggest an Audible.com subscription. You can find lots of codes for a free 30-day trial to see if you like it.
    Alternatively, you could have a friend with a lot of e-books lend you some? I don’t know about that one; lots aren’t lendable it seems. But maybe someone has had better luck with this than we have. There’s always the ebooks on gutenberg. You can sometimes find free deals on bookbub.com . Good luck!

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  5. You could sign up for membership of another city library that has a better ebook catalogue. For example, I live in Australia and our local library has a terrible selection of ebooks so I access the electronic resources of Christchurch City Library in New Zealand (Zinio & overdrive mostly). They charge $130NZ or ~$85US for a 12 month membership.

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    • I didn’t realize that some library systems let non-residents sign up. I will definitely start looking into that!

      On a similar note, I discovered this week that the San Francisco Public Library will give a library card to *any* California resident! To get the account activated the person must visit a SF Library branch in person, but after that renewals can be done online. I need to go into to SF next week to visit the eye specialist, so I’m making time to visit an SF library, too, to get my card. Their ebook and audiobook catalogs (yes, they have multiple ones! woot!) seem to be pretty extensive. Yes, I’ll still have to wait for popular books, but I’ll manage.

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  6. You could look into the California Braille and Talking Book Library:

    http://www.library.ca.gov/services/btbl.html

    My husband’s grandfather used to use a service like this (he lived in a different state). He had a retinal issue that made seeing and reading difficult, although he was not completely blind. They send books and audiobooks in the mail, and I think also have downloadable materials. It is completely free.

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  7. Don’t they have inter-library loan there? I usually can get books from my library pretty quickly with that. I was gifted a trial subscription to Audible – I haven’t tried it yet because, like you, I could easily sidetracked, but I’ve heard from more than one person that it’s really quite wonderful, so that’s something to consider.

    The Kindle app on my iPad allows me to make the type bigger if necessary, too. Sure hope your eye doc visit goes well and that they can get cracking on getting your vision back to being more functional.

    I know I mentioned this before I and think there’s a reason it wasn’t good for you, but what about an eye patch for your wonky eye so the one that does still see well could do all the ready for awhile?

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  8. Linda is correct about the San Francisco Library. I live on the Central Coast, but I went to SF and got a library card from them. I borrow their ebooks for my Kindle and find their selection to be fantastic!

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  9. I’d forgotten about the SFPL, I made the same discovery about seven years ago and haven’t used it since but I will now.

    People have covered lots here but in case no one mentioned this and I overlooked it: do you have Amazon Prime? You can borrow 1 book free per month from their lending library and also prime members get to buy one of their monthly featured books free each month too. That’s two free books per month.

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