Delph finds large print books are best for her to read – whether they’re oversized books for younger children or large print books for the visually impaired. Aberystwyth Town Library has plenty of large print books, but they tend to be books designed for elderly people. Old-fashioned romance, historical fiction, biographies. That sort of thing.
Then, about six months ago, I requested Harry Potter in large print.
‘Do you mind if we charge you a small fee if we need to order the book across the border?’ the librarian asked.
I frowned. ‘The border?’ What was this- full of customs police and immigration checks?
The librarian cleared his throat. ‘Yes, the border with England. We may not find your search request in Wales.’
Aha. That border. The ‘Welcome to..’ sign on the road.
‘We may not find it here,’ the librarian explained.
‘But it’s not like it’s an obscure book.’ Only one of the most popular ever published. Even Bible reps are impressed with HP’s sales figures – some say there’s a connection between these texts. Overall similar themes even – good vs bad, death followed by re-birth. That’s another story though.
‘Yes, but in order for it to be in the library, there has to be a demand for it.’
I shook my head, fully confused now. ‘But it’s Harry Potter – of course there’s a demand for it.’
Librarian raised a well-timed eyebrow. The old, I-know-more-than-you-do, but I’m too polite to tell to your face. Not too many visually impaired elderly adults hanging on to Hagrid’s every word.
Indeed, a few months later, after eventually giving up and even completely forgetting about the request, a letter came addressed to us.
We scanned through it. ‘Mrs Ormerod, unable to, Harry Potter, apologies.’
I put the letter down. Not one library in the country had a single large print copy of Harry Potter?
In the end, I just went to the bookstore and ordered it. I had to see it in person. It was very much available too – for a whole £25. The publishers only offer the large-print version in hardback. Meanwhile, Delph was like, ‘Meh, I’ve got the audiobooks.’
I went and told the library afterwards about my purchase. The librarian said, ‘You should send a tweet to JK Rowling. She’s the sort of person who’d get the publishers to send large print books out to you free of charge and even the library if you explain the situation.’
I drove home feeling like a literary crusader. Until it came down to it – and I balled up in that shy, ‘I don’t even know how to use Twitter’ familiar awkwardness. I’m still working on it. The librarian offered to help pen the tweet with me. In the meantime she said with innate librarian practicality, ‘Have you considered just getting a Kindle?’
Ahh. We’ve had Kindles on Quest which eventually died. I wasn’t sorry to see the back of them. Like the weird, impersonal forms of ‘words-only’ people. No smell, no cover, no flicking through. You can’t even put your coffee on it to stop the wood staining. But she was right – for increasing font size it is an ideal tool. Lose the dogma, Hannah.
I ordered it on Sunday – two in fact. What Delph has, Lu needs, and on Questie Lulu has been a big reader. The next morning I discovered it was Amazon Prime Day – and the kindles had gone down in price by £20… each.
‘You didn’t read your emails saying that Prime Day was coming up?’’ Jack asked when I stomped around the kitchen, grumbling about it.
I shot him my best laser eyes. ‘I don’t get those emails – since the account is under your email address.’
With this, I hauled my kayak over my shoulder and joined the velvet water world.
An hour later, I paddled back to shore. Jack was waiting at the water line.
He said, ‘There’s forty quid back in your account. Took me half-an-hour on the phone to India. They tried to give me a fiver and then said they’d only refund if I sent them back and re-ordered.’
I said, ‘I bet that went well.’
He grinned. ‘I don’t think you could have negotiated that one. I had to get the big guns out.’
We picked up each end of the kayak. ‘What? I’m plenty aggressive.’
‘Yeah but for this, it needed manipulation skills.’