Portable and handy electronic dictionaries have met with strong sales in recent years, particularly among those over 50.

Many older people find electronic dictionaries easier to use than their book counterparts and appreciate the displays’ larger letters.

The number of such items sold in Japan is estimated at 1 million for 1998, and at somewhere between 2.5 million and 3 million — with about 25 billion yen in sales — in 1999.

A publicist for Seiko Instruments Corp. said the firm expects sales for the current year to increase 50 percent over the previous year.

Masaichi Okita, a senior member of Sharp Corp.’s mobile-systems business department, said more than half of the buyers are people over 50 who have difficulty reading small letters.

High-profile advertisements on television, magazines and other forms of media have also been contributing to good sales of the products, he noted.

Electronic dictionaries range from simple types that expand on basic calculators to sophisticated machines that translate and give definitions for words in other languages, such as Japanese into English and vice-versa. The prices range from around 4,000 yen for the simple types to about 40,000 yen for the high-end varieties.

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