It’s Coming …

I’ll admit it: I’ve enjoyed the Harry Potter books, and yes, I’ve read them all. I wouldn’t say I’m obsessed; I enjoyed them while I was reading them, remember the plot pretty well, but I don’t think about them daily, and while I’ve tried on occasion, I have yet to reread any one of them a second time through.

With the last book set for release in July, I’m going to experience something Braille readers rarely, if ever, have a chance to savor: my version of the Harry Potter book will be out at the same time as the print arrives in bookstores.

This phenomena happened for the first time with the sixth book in the series. I had ordered it in the winter, and as the media hype leading up to its release got louder, I resigned myself to the fact that I’d be reading the book months after everyone else had. Braille can take time to produce, and until very recently with the advent of Braille translation software and electronic files from publishers, this was the norm.

Imagine my surprise that July when two big boxes were deposited on my front steps. I brought them into the house, opened them and, after a quick look inside, sat back in wonder. My book had arrived, and for once, I was going to be reading something before my husband did (especially since he refuses to buy most books in hardcover).

I didn’t know which to savor more: the fact that I was able to talk excitedly with my piano students about all the twists and turns in the plot of a book that had kept them from practicing (or sleeping) for a week, or the ability to torment my husband by reading far into the night while he reread some favorite title from three years ago. Hmmmm, delicious!

Well, this summer, it’s going to happen again. While I was at the annual conference of the California Transcribers and Educators for the Visually Handicapped in Santa Clara, I went to the booth of National Braille Press, a Boston-based company that works tirelessly to produce Braille books of current interest at prices similar to their print counterparts.

I’d been thinking of ordering the new Potter, but was putting it off; if it wasn’t out until July, I could always order in May, right? Well, at the convention, they were offering it at the same price as an advance order through Amazon, so I pounced. The prospect of receiving a multi-volume Braille book at the same time that it’s released in print for under $20 … well, it just doesn’t get any better than that.

Aside from the surface pleasures of this arrangement, think of the strong message this sends blind kids everywhere: Braille is cool, it’s fast, and you can read the same things sighted kids are reading at the same time, for the same price. This does a lot to dispel the stigmas that Braille is outdated, too slow and difficult to be worthwhile, and that computers and tape recorders will eventually replace it.

On the computers and tape recorders front, it’s true that these devices have done wonderful things for advancing the lives of blind people and improving access to printed information and communication. But if the power goes out and you have to write something down, where does your computer or tape recorder leave you? Braille still rules!

I’m looking forward to July. I’m not going to spend much time before then wondering if Harry will die in this last installment or not. I’m reading the books for pure fun and escapism, not for literature’s sake. That’s what summer reading is for, after all.

And in the mean time, if you’d like to learn more about National Braille Press, a Braille producer that really “gets it”, visit them online and, if you feel that what they’re doing is important, support them with a small donation. I, for one, as a Braille reader, will thank you!

Explore posts in the same categories: Blindness, Braille, Family and Friends, Reading

2 Comments on “It’s Coming …”

  1. When the publication date for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” was announced, I saw a news story somewhere on line mentioning the Braille verson. What great news. On books like the Potter books, part of the fun is reading them while everyone else is reading them. I’m looking forward the last book, partly because I’m curious about how Rowling will wrap up the series. Then all the guessing about Harry dying or surviving will finally be over. When I ask people who like the books what they’re going to be doing on July 21, they always say, “Reading about Harry Potter.”

  2. halfnotes Says:


    Oh, yes, and if you’re a quick reader, you probably won’t get much sleep that night, either! Buess I better cancel piano lessons for the next day!

    After all the dust settles, it’ll be fun to wait and see what the next “big” book event is. I don’t think anyone had any idea that Harry Potter would take off like it did, least of all the author and publisher. Say what you want about whether it’s “good lit” or not; I say, anything that’s not a fashion or celebrity mag that has over 100 pages that kids actually want to read who wouldn’t otherwise be reading is a good thing.

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