Bookshop fundraising to boost dyslexia-friendly books

Dr Alistair Sims from Books on the Hill in Clevedon

Dr Alistair Sims from Books on the Hill in Clevedon - Credit: Books On The Hill

An independent North Somerset bookshop has called out major book publishers for not doing enough to support dyslexic readers. 

Books on the Hill, in Clevedon, established the BOTH Press publishing house to fund and produce larger font books aimed at dyslexic readers. 

The social enterprise was launched in direct response to the absence of dyslexic friendly fiction for adults in UK bookshops. 

The UK Government reports that 10% of the UK population is dealing with dyslexia. It's estimated up to one in every 10 people in the UK has some degree of dyslexia - one-in-six adults has the reading level of an 11-year-old.

On a global scale, between 5-10 per cent of the population are suffering from dyslexia. 85 per cent of parents report their children feel embarrassed by their dyslexia.

BOTH Press held its first Kickstarter campaigner in 2021, successfully raising £6,300 and publishing eight dyslexic friendly fiction titles, including The Man Who Would Be King by Rudyard Kipling.

The team launched their second Kickstarter, 'Open Dyslexia: the sequel', on June 7, which runs until July 4 with an aim of raising £16,000.

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It aims to publish eight more titles of high-quality fiction from bestselling authors such as Bernard Cornwell, Peter James and Arthur Conan Doyle. 

Dr Alistair Sims, founder and manager of Books on the Hill and BOTH Press, said: "Many individuals who have told us their stories do not want to be mentioned due to fear of stigma about their struggle to read. 

"For years we have had customers tell us of relatives who love stories, and would love to read, but have endured a lifetime of being called stupid. 

"It is brilliant that a sea of children's books now come in dyslexic friendly formats. But that is a recent development, and there are hundreds of thousands of adults who have never had the opportunity to read for leisure with all the benefits that brings. 

"This Kickstarter is not a choice, it is a necessity. UK book publishers have had decades to get this right. 

"It is nonsense to think dyslexics do not want to read. That there is no serious offering accommodating the 10 percent of the population who struggle to read perpetuates the myth." 

Dyslexia-friendly titles have larger fonts in Verdana, which is easier to read, and thicker paper so the ink does not bleed through from the other side. 

Book pages are cream-coloured rather than white, providing a greater contrast for dyslexic readers to make out the text more easily, and there are larger gaps between sentences and paragraphs. 

BOTH Press will need more than £20,000 a year to keep publishing dyslexia friendly titles regularly. All funds go toward book production and life cycle to make them readily available.

And Dr Sims, who receives no profits from the project, said he hopes the fundraiser's success will encourage the 'Big Five' UK publishers to reconsider the commercial viability of bespoke dyslexia friendly titles for a massive untapped market of adult dyslexic readers. 

BOTH Press has had many heart-warming responses about how the books have impacted the lives of adult readers with an easier, more comprehensible and enjoyable leisure read. 

"More than anything we want to give people a choice, but we want to usher in a commercial and attitude change to how people understand and approach dyslexia," he added.

"We are asking people to support this Kickstarter, but we area also calling out the 'Big Five' Publishers for overlooking the massive potential and reading appetites of adults with dyslexia."

For more on the Kickstarter campaign visit https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/both-opendyslexia/open-dyslexia-the-sequel