Amazon brings its Bookerly font to iOS - E Ink next?

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

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A couple of days ago, Amazon updated its Kindle iOS app to bring Bookerly – the font that came to the Fire tablets a few months ago – and a much improved type handling experience:

[…] the new app finally gives the boot to the hideous absolute justification of text that the Kindle’s been rocking since 2007. The new layout engine justifies text more like print typesetting. Even if you max out the font size on the new Kindle app, it will keep the spacing between words even, intelligently hyphenating words and spreading them between lines as need may be.

(It’s interesting to note that a significant number of commenters who wrote about this treated this as if it was new, rather than the second stage of a roll-out that started with the Fire tablets in January. Even a quick Google of the name Bookerly would have cleared that up for them…)

It’s a significant, but not dramatic upgrade, that really begins to suggest that Amazon does actually care about the typography of its Kindle devices – especially with the suggestion that these improvements are coming to the E Ink devices later in the summer:

Amazon just told me that the Bookerly font will be made available on Kindle ereaders later this year.

And quite possibly in the near future:

@bleedsixcolors thanks, Jason! I hear the e-ink update could ship this month. They showed it to me: it looks great.

— John Brownlee (@DrCrypt) May 27, 2015

[UPDATE]: It arrived in August 2015.

Marco Arment makes an interesting point – Amazon is still deeply dictatorial in its choices on the Kindle. Can’t the reader have more choice?

I’m glad they appear to care, but I hope they take this further. There’s no good reason why justification needs to be forced on readers who can already customize the font, size, margins, and line spacing to make reading easier or more pleasant for them. If justification can’t be removed completely, make it an option.

Let’s hope this is a first stage in a continual process of software evolution, now Kindle hardware development seems to be slowing down.

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.