The Kindle Finally Gets Typography That Doesn’t Suck

27 May 2015

From Co.Design:

Amazon’s Kindle e-reader is a lovely single-purpose gadget, with an industrial design ethos that, in its singular focus on the purity of e-reading, even Dieter Rams could love. The iOS and Android apps are even great. But no matter what gadget you read on, the Kindle’s typography and typesetting has always been a bit of a disaster, with six different typefaces, that are barely suitable for reading an actual book. (Who reads books in Futura, anyways?) As for the typesetting, “hideous” is the word many type lovers would use to describe it.

But today, Amazon is making a big step towards better typography on the Kindle. Not only are they unveiling Bookerly, the first typeface designed for the Kindle for scratch, but they’re finally solving the Kindle’s typesetting problems with an all-new layout engine that introduces better text justification, kerning, drop caps, image positioning, and more.

. . . .

Replacing Caecilia as the new default font for Kindle, Bookerly is a serif that has been custom-made by Amazon to be as readable across as many different types of screens as possible. Like Google’s Literata, Bookerly is meant to address many of the aesthetic issues surrounding e-book fonts.

. . . .

On low-res devices, Baskerville’s thin, elegant lines looked crude, whereas Caecilia, a slab serif, was just a bizarre choice for Amazon’s previous default font: although it’s highly readable, it’s a type of font best used for headlines, not body text, because slab serifs often look and feel bolded, even when they’re not.

Bookerly addresses both of these issues. No matter what screen you’re on, Bookerly was designed from the ground-up to be even more readable that Caecilia. According to Amazon’s internal tests, that means it’s about 2% easier on the eye. That may seem like a small improvement, but spread that 2% across millions of Kindle users and billions of pages of e-reading, and it all starts to add up.

. . . .

But to be honest, Bookerly’s not really what has me excited. The Kindle’s new layout engine? That’s another story. After almost eight years, Amazon’s finally starting to get e-book typesetting bloody right.

Previous to today’s update, when you read an e-book on the Kindle, sentences were fully justified. In other words, no matter how big your font size, Kindle’s invisible software always laid-out the page so that the left and right margins were completely straight. And it was ugly. Words were never split across lines, so there could be as many as half-a-dozen spaces between words.

. . . .

Amazon updated the Kindle app for iOS with Bookerly and a new layout engine today this morning. Another update rolling out the new font and typesetting technology to users of Amazon’s line of e-ink readers, Android, and other devices will be available later this summer.

Link to the rest at Co.Design and thanks to Nirmala for the tip.

This Is What You’re Missing Out On When Using an E-Reader Instead of a Real Book

20 May 2015


An attractive stranger sits across from you on the train, hunched over and reading. As they read on, a small smirk crosses their face. What’s so funny? Maybe you and this sexy stranger share a discerning literary taste, you think.

. . . .

What we lose when covers go plastic: Since the Kindle’s 2007 debut, the number of gray and white screens in the hands of train riders and beach-goers has steadily risen. As of 2014, up to 50% of Americans over 18 owned a tablet or e-reader, according to a survey by Pew Research Center.

“Books on the subway are increasingly like birds in the jungle: colorful, hard-to-spot and of obsessive interest,” writer Ben Dolnick observed on the Awl while watching people read on the New York City subway for a week.

As more and more people opt for e-readers rather than paperbacks, the chances for people to connect over them dwindle. Not only are book readers sexy (just take the viral Instagram account Hot Dudes Reading), we also draw all sorts of flattering conclusions about people’s book choices and use those choices to connect. Books are a natural pick-up line, an easy entryway to understanding someone’s interests, passions and even biases.

. . . .

 One Tumblr user, k-auhale, blogged about the time she was once asked out via a John Green book. “Wait! there’s this quote I wanted to show you on page… 123, I think,” her crush told her. He then pointed to a sentence in Looking for Alaska that he had highlighted that read, “Do you want to be my girlfriend?” The devoted Green fan happily accepted the offer.

. . . .

Nobody is more concerned over the potential loss of book-inspired connections than Tricia Callahan, the founder of CoverSpy, who curates a blog that documents what the people of Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Toronto and other cities are reading in public — on the train, in the bar and in parks. Callahan felt the coming of the digital reader revolution in 2009 and wanted to do something about it.

“We felt it on our commutes: Kindle backs were the new book covers to stare at. Something was changing in our visual landscape, we were losing something,” Callahan told Mic. For her, creating CoverSpy was about acknowledging the kind of connection that might be lost with e-readers.

“One day I was standing on the subway reading,” said Callahan, recalling a time she was wrapped up reading about F. Scott Fitzgerald and The Great Gatsby. She looked up, and lo and behold, the woman holding the pole next to her was reading Gatsby at that very moment.

Link to the rest at and thanks to Dave for the tip.

Yet another reason why PG is glad that he’s married.

Kindle Price Cuts

23 December 2014

Amazon is having a sale on Kindle Ereaders. PG doesn’t know how long the discounts will last.

Kindle Original vs Kindle Voyage

5 November 2014

From boingboing:

Jason Weisberger finally upgraded. Did seven years make much difference? The answer will probably not surprise you, but the details might.

. . . .

Facing off Amazon’s latest and greatest single purpose reading device, the Kindle Voyage, to their last generation Paperwhite seemed like a waste of your and my time. Every single review tells you its a nice upgrade, but perhaps one not worth the money. The Voyage, in form factor, most reminded me of the original Kindle. The strangely angular case design looked derivative. Luckily, I just happened to have one here…

Rob described the original Kindle as “looking like wadded up cardboard” and I think he may be right. Before I’d even recharged the device and powered it on, I marveled at the insane shape Amazon felt was going to be most pleasing and book-like to the user. I remember being put off by the design when I first saw it, but I’ve actually missed it. OG Kindle did feel more like the bend of pages when holding a paperback sized book than any of the sterile, rounded Kindle’s since. The Voyage backplate sports similar angling and ridging. It fits the hand in a similar manner, even the Amazon Origami case attempts to translate that tactile feel. I quite like it but actually still feel original Kindle maintains the edge over all other e-readers for actual book-in-hand-ness.

. . . .

Screen is simply no contest. The new Voyage is lightning quick, shows almost no ghosting and the matte glass front does stay unsmudged, far longer. The OG Kindle’s screen is slow and ghosts a lot. The resolution would never be an issue, for me at the font sizes I read at, but seeing them next to each other its just unfair.

. . . .

Reading is better on the Voyage. Unsurprisingly I like having a better screen, and the self adjusting front light is a dream. Voyage is a better reading device in all lighting conditions. The self-adjusting light is a dream, even nicer than the Paperwhite. The OG Kindle was a first gen device, this is the primary function of the product line at Amazon and they’ve made HUGE improvements. The Voyage is great in direct sun and lights out situations. Years back I retired the OG Kindle for an iPad with the Kindle app purely for the backlighting at night, it made reading outdoors impossible.

Link to the rest at boingboing and thanks to Scott for the tip.

Here’s a link to the Kindle Voyage

Voyage, a High-End Amazon Kindle That Beats Hardcovers

21 October 2014

From The New York Times Bits blog:

Amazon’s Kindle is a tech-industry miracle. That sounds over-the-top; it’s not.

In 2007, when the company first unveiled its e-reader, the device was an expensive ugly duckling whose future looked marginal at best. The first Kindle, which sold for $400 and was made by a company that had no track record in hardware, had a lot to overcome: the reluctance of the book industry to change its business model, the sentimentality of readers for the printed book, and its egregious industrial design, which looked like the product of the Soviet space program.

. . . .

Now, with its newest Kindle, the Voyage, Amazon is refining its e-reader once more. The Voyage’s main trick is a high-resolution display that mimics the look of a printed page. Text on its screen appears at a resolution of 300 pixels an inch, which is on par with the high-resolution displays now found on most of our other mobile devices.

Compared with  previous Kindles, text on the Kindle Voyage appears both sharper and in starker relief against the background. Graphics, like charts and graphs, look just as clear as they do in any black-and-white book.

The effect is beguiling. If you look at the new Kindle for any stretch of time, you don’t just forget that you’re reading an e-book; you forget that you’re using any kind of electronic device at all.

Amazon says the Voyage offers a better approximation of print than has ever been available on an e-reader, but for me, it’s far better than that. It offers the visual clarity of printed text with the flexibility of an electronic device.

Given that combination, the Voyage functions as something like the executioner of the trusty old hardcover.

Link to the rest at New York Times

Here’s a link to the Voyage page

Trigger Warning- Tom and Jerry and Amazon

10 October 2014

You can read about this on any number of sites, but here’s USA Today:

Viewers may now be thinking twice before they click “play” on the classic Warner Bros. cartoon, Tom and Jerry.

Amazon Prime Instant and iTunes have posted a disclaimer that warns users that the cat-and-mouse shorts, which ran from 1940 to 1957, “may depict some ethnic and racial prejudices that were once commonplace in American society.”

The warning continues: “Such depictions were wrong then and are wrong today.”

I have a confession to make. This is so before my time that when I first read the headline (in a different publication) I thought it was because it was a cat and a mouse… living together in sin…

Read the rest here.


HarperCollins Signs Deal With Bookmate – but Not Kindle Unlimited

9 October 2014

From Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader

Bookmate, which is primarily focused on Russia and ebook markets in eastern Europe, will now be able to offer its 1.5 million users ebooks published by HC. No one is talking specifics on the numbers, but the press release does say that “books by hundreds of authors, including CS Lewis are included in the deal”.

. . .

But I will note that Bookmate has a deal which Amazon has not yet secured for Kindle Unlimited. Following the deal between S&S and Denmark-based Mofibo, this is the second time in only a couple weeks that a smaller ebook subscription service scored a contract with a major US trade publisher which Amazon could not get.

. . .

This trend, if it exists, could well explain the speculation that Amazon is about to open up Kindle Unlimited to all KDP authors – with no exclusivity required. This would give Amazon a significantly larger catalog, and what’s more the idea is already getting positive responses from some indie authors.

. . .

Read the full article at The Digital Reader

So far we have only rumors and report of a possible tech glitch to support the opening up of KDP to all indies, but Nate Hoffelder lending weight says it’s still fertile ground for speculation.

Holding-the-digital-fort vacation guest post by Bridget McKenna


Bezos synergy

7 October 2014

New Washington Post digital magazine app coming to Kindle Fire

From Tom Cheredar at Venturebeat

The Washington Post, the paper of record for political happenings in the US and beyond, has decided to launch a news application that will appear on the next generation of Amazon Kindle Fire tablets.
The move marks the first time that the Washington Post and Amazon have directly interacted since Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos purchased the newspaper for $25 million in cash last year. The application, which is part of a new “Project Rainbow” initiative at the Post, is expected to appear first on the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire, according to Bloomberg who first reported the news.


It’ll be interesting to see if people respond to reading the Post on this new format, especially when there are so many other options available for getting a daily dose of political news. Not only is there a plethora of news organizations willing to offer up their news coverage for free, but also there are plenty of digital magazine apps vying for consumer attention (Pulse, Flipboard, Zite, and News360, to name a few).

Read the rest of the story here.

From Guest Blogger Randall

« Previous PageNext Page »