Book Sales and Middle Age

I hate to admit it, but it’s time. I am getting older. I now belong to that category called middle-aged.

If you are in middle age or beyond, you are familiar with a condition most people our age struggle with. It’s called presbyopia.

For those of you who have not yet reached middle age, presbyopia is a condition where the eye loses its ability to focus and reading glasses become a necessity.

I bet you are wondering, “What does this have to do with publishing and marketing books?” Let me tell you.

I no longer judge a book by its cover, author, and subject matter. Now that I am in middle age, a new factor has become important in determining whether I will buy or read a book. The size of the print used for the text of the book now matters.

With my eyes declining ability to focus, if I open a book and the print is small and very close together, it hurts my eyes to try to focus on the words. As a result, I put the book down and look for one that is easier for my eyes to handle.

People over the age of 40 begin to develop presbyopia. This means that, potentially, you could be losing sales if your font size is too small and tightly packed together. People over the age of 40 account for over half the book sales in the United States. Therefore, making your print books easy on this age group’s eyes is important for sales.

Here are my suggestions for making your books amenable to middle-age and over folks.

  1. Use a font size that is easily legible and not cramped together. Some suggestions for good fonts include Futura, Garamond, and Palatino.
  2. Don’t cramp the text to the edges. Leave wide margins.
  3. Make sure that the spacing between lines is at lease 1.5 to 2 times the space between the words.

Using large font and allowing more space can increase the page-count of a book, which translates to increased costs. As a result, many publishers are tempted to skimp and use small font and cram as many words on a page as possible.

Take it from me, an aging middle-ager, don’t use small fonts and cramped layout to save a little money on the production end. You will lose much more on the sales end if you do.


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3 thoughts on “Book Sales and Middle Age

  1. For those looking to pursue this, you are talking about excellent typography. Typography is the art of making words and content easily accessible, comfortable to read, and easy to comprehend. I spend a lot of time talking about readability and it’s key importance.


  2. You did not suggest a font size size. Books do not have the font size typed anywhere in them so when I find a book that is comfortable to read I can’t specify that required font size. I can’t even find a chart on the internet showing 7 point, 8 point etc. font size samples. Thank you for bring attention to this problem. I hope people will listen. I was at a store the other day and saw an NIV Bible and took a look at the print size and said “NO WAY”. They DEFINITELY would have sold me one that day if the print size would have been larger, because I really wanted one of those updated NIV’s. Lose – lose.


  3. Ray, you are correct, I did not specify a font size. Since different fonts are different, stating a 9 or 10 point font size would not work. An 8 in some fonts is larger than a 9 in other fonts.


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