Amazon finally has an awesomely readable font for the iOS Kindle app
Eye on Apple
By Jim Lynch, CIO
One of the biggest beefs many people have had with Amazon’s Kindle app for iOS is the selection of fonts available to use for reading. Thankfully Amazon has updated the Kindle app to version 4.9, and along with this update comes a terrific new reading font called Bookerly.
Bookerly is a new Kindle exclusive font designed for reading on digital screens. Warm and contemporary, Bookerly is inspired by the artistry of the best fonts in modern print books but is hand-crafted for optimal readability at any screen size. Bookerly is available on most Kindle books.
Reading on the iPhone 6 Plus with Bookerly
I upgraded the Kindle app on my iPhone 6 Plus to version 4.9 and then launched it. As soon as the app loaded, I got a popup menu asking if I wanted to use Bookerly and I said yes.
Wow! What a difference! Bookerly is a much, much better font than any of the ones previously available on the Kindle app for iOS. I couldn’t believe how much better the text looked on my iPhone 6 Plus after switching to Bookerly.
Don’t take my word for it though, here’s a screenshot of a page from The Hobbit using Bookerly:
And here’s one with the Baskerville font I was previously using:
What an amazing difference Bookerly makes to the overall reading experience on my iPhone 6 Plus. I can easily see and read the text without even having my reading glasses on. And that says something because I’m in my mid forties now and my eyes, alas, are not what they used to be in my younger days.
I also tested Bookerly against the previous default Kindle font Caecilia. Bookerly was still significantly easier to read than Caecilia. Caecilia compared better to Bookerly than Baskerville, but I think Bookerly still beats it hands down.
Here’s a screenshot of the same text in Caecilia so you can see what I mean:
When will Bookerly be available for e-ink Kindles?
Frankly, Bookerly has me wondering if I’m even going to bother reading on my Kindle Voyage any more. Bookerly is currently not available for any e-ink Kindle as far as I can tell, and it puts the fonts on the e-ink Kindles to shame. Yes, it’s that good. But, unfortunately, it only makes its omission on the e-ink Kindles that much more of a glaring problem.
I can’t imagine that Amazon won’t have as good a font available eventually for its e-ink Kindles. But it is somewhat shocking that something like Bookerly isn’t already available for them. The current selection of fonts on e-ink Kindles is just as bad as the ones on the iOS Kindle app.
It’s quite telling though that Amazon released Bookerly for Kindle for iOS first, instead of the company’s e-ink readers. I’ve never seen any numbers released by Amazon that show how many people read Kindle books on iOS devices versus e-ink Kindles, but my guess is that iOS readers probably vastly outnumber e-ink readers. Thus Amazon put Bookerly on iOS devices first, with e-ink Kindles to follow later this summmer.
It would have been better if Bookerly had been made available for e-ink Kindles at the same time as it released for the Kindle iOS app. At least then e-ink Kindle owners would not have felt like a second-rate afterthought to Amazon. I wonder if that thought occurred to anyone at Amazon? Probably not, but the damage has been done and now the only thing for Amazon to do is to get Bookerly on the e-ink Kindle as quickly as possible.
Other improvements in Kindle 4.9 for iOS
Bookerly wasn’t the only thing changed in Kindle 4.9 for iOS. Here’s a list of the other changes from the Kindle page in the app store:
Faster Reading, Less Eye Strain
Hyphenation plus smoother word spacing result in faster reading with less eye strain. Improved character placement increases word recognition speed at any font size.
Beautiful Page Layout
Drop caps, text, and images that automatically adapt to always look great no matter what your screen or font size. Print-like layout dynamically adjusts for any combination of screen size and font setting.
Large Fonts, Without Compromises
Enjoy reading with larger font sizes without compromising your reading experience. Page layout and margins automatically adapt to look great with even the largest font sizes.
I have not had time to really check out these other changes in detail, I’m still in awe of Bookerly as I write this. But it’s clear that Amazon’s developers have been very busy getting this update ready and it shows when you look at text in the Kindle app for iOS.
Kudos, Amazon! Thanks for the great font on Kindle for iOS. Now if you could just release it for the e-ink Kindles too…
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