December 18, 1989 12:00 PM

>Walph Waldo Emerson wrote that “the virtue of books is to be readable.” Though he suffered bouts of temporary blindness, Emerson probably wasn’t addressing visual concerns when he said that. Yet today his words have new meaning.

There are now some 14 million visually handicapped Americans, afflicted with glaucoma, cataracts and other eye problems. In response, publishers are printing more and more books in large type, with titles ranging from the Bible to best-sellers. Following are some leading suppliers of large print texts:

“Our members are big mystery fans,” says Beth Whittingham, an editor at Doubleday Large Print Home Library (516-294-4000). Those with tired eyes and a tight budget can try Thorndike Press paperbacks (800-223-6121). Boston’s G.K. Hall (800-343-2806) has been publishing large print books since 1971. The nonprofit National Association for Visually Handicapped (212-889-3141) is a vital source of information about literature for the partially sighted.

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