String THeory for Dummies and the power of social media

“String THeory for Dummies” is one of those books I’d love to read if only I could find an accessible version. I listed the book in my “to read” shelf of Goodreads which, for those not familiar with it, is a site for tracking books and sharing what you’re reading with friends. I’d honestly forgotten adding the book to my shelf and was therefore surprised when I received a comment from Andrew Zimmerman Jones, the book’s author. Mr. Jones simply commented that he would be looking forward to what I had to say about his book. I replied explaining that to the best of my knowledge, an accessible edition of his book does not exist and enquired as to whether or not he knew of plans to produce either an Etext, or audible edition. I was very pleased to have received the following back from Mr. Jones, “I regretfully have to admit that I really don’t know what sorts of blind-friendly versions the book is out in. I know that there’s no standard audiobook version yet, but I’m not sure if Wiley grants permissions for their For Dummies line to be used through bookshare and similar services, and if they do I don’t know the timetable for when books get added. I’ve written to my editor on this topic and will let you know what I’m told. I do know that the book is available through in a Kindle edition, and that the Kindle version has the text-to-speech functionality enabled.”

Sites like GoodReads and social media in general make it possible, and indeed easy for authors such as Mr. Jones to have contact with their readers. From my perspective, GoodReads enables me to contact authors and raise awareness of accessibility issues. I certainly can’t speak for Mr. Jones, but I suspect many authors have no idea how blind folks access books and as we’re a huge potential market, that’s a real shame.

I know there are many who still question the validity of social media, or who simply feel it’s not for them. To those people, I’d say that social media’s not just about telling your friends, followers, or fans “what’s happening” or “what’s on your mind,” but is a constantly evolving concept with many positive ramifications. I’m still looking forward to reading “String Theory for Dummies” and hope that in some small way, I’ve helped to raise awareness concerning the accessibility of books.

In closing, my sincere thanks to Mr. Stone for getting back to me so quickly and for pursuing the accessibility issue with his editor. If anyone would like to read the original thread, it can be found here.

By Steve Sawczyn

Blind from birth, I do what I can to help make the world a more accessible and inclusive place for all.

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