Why We’re Converting Our Books to Screen Reader Formats Accessible to People Who Are Visually Impaired
Access is a value that goes back to the beginning at Coffee House Press. Our founder, Allan Kornblum, made an important decision early in his career to make affordability central when it came to his letterpress editions. He could have gone the museum route, creating works of art that sold for hundreds of dollars. Instead, he packaged avant-garde poetry in beautifully designed and affordable chapbooks—a huge step up from the mimeo magazines they had been appearing in.
Since then access has meant many different things to Coffee House, perhaps most important is access to the publishing world for writers who have been previously underrepresented in literature.
All this is great, but we are always looking to do better. Our publishing contracts with our writers have always stipulated that we would grant rights to the work to any school or organization that wanted to make the books available to readers who are visually impaired. And from time to time we were able to make that happen.
One thing we’re big on these days at Coffee House is putting our values into action. We’ve always believed our books make the world a better place, but we just published the books and hoped it would happen. Now we’re taking actual steps to make it happen. This initiative of converting our books into formats that are compatible with screen readers used by people who are visually impaired is just one way of putting access into action.
—Chris Fischbach, Publisher