The Aging Reader and the Evolving Book
Texts are material artifacts that take many different forms: cave paintings, clay tablets, papyrus scrolls, manuscript books, printed books, newspapers, photographs, films, DVDs, computers. Despite these different forms they are all intended for readers, who also take many different forms. A report (World Population Ageing: 1950-2050) prepared by the Population Division of the United Nations’ Department of Economic and Social Affairs providing a description of global trends in population ageing observes that: Population ageing is unprecedented, without parallel in human history—and the twenty-first century will witness even more rapid ageing than did the century just past; Population ageing is pervasive, a global phenomenon affecting every man, woman and child—but countries are at very different stages of the process, and the pace of change differs greatly. Countries that started the process later will have less time to adjust; Population ageing is enduring: we will not return to the young populations that our ancestors knew; Population ageing has profound implications for many facets of human life. While the proportion of population who are readers varies from region to region in most cases it is significant. If we change the word population to reader we come to understand: Reader ageing is unprecedented; Reader aging is pervasive; Reader ageing is enduring; Reader ageing has profound implications. In 2007 the portion of the world population over 50 is just under 20%. By 2050 over a third of the world’s population will be over 50.This paper provides a brief introduction and overview of the implications of reader ageing. While most understand the need for large print books many may not know which fonts are most appropriate on paper and in electronic readers. Other issues include: Type of binding; Size of a newspaper; Color combination on web sites and other text presentations; The number of characters in an audio book; The resolution of electronic readers.
Keywords: Book, Reader, Aging
Dr Roger McGrath
Associate Professor, McColl School of Business, Queens University of Charlotte
Dr Cherie Clark
Charles A. Dana Professor of Psychology, Psycholgy Department, Queens University of Charlotte