The Kindle “Finally” Gets Better Typography

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I’m very excited for this update. I bought an e-ink Kindle for bedtime reading earlier this year, and while I love the simplicity, small size, and the reduced eyestrain from not staring at yet another LCD screen for hours, the layout and typography can’t hold a candle to iBooks.

Having said that: the words “finally” and “today” really make it sound like Amazon is shipping these updates for all their devices/apps today, when in fact only the iOS apps are getting the new layout engine and Bookerly font until “later this summer.” (It says a lot about the relative ease of building and shipping updates for various platforms when even Amazon is doing iOS first, ahead of their own devices.)

As for the new font and engine, as seen in Kindle iOS v3.9: they’re a tremendous improvement from where the Kindle was before… which brings them roughly to the level iBooks has been at for years. The new Bookerly font feels really similar to the excellent Adobe font Chaparral. Like the post says, it bears some passing resemblance to Kindle’s old default font, Linotype’s Caecilia, which should help the Kindle still feel like a Kindle after the change is “finally” complete later this year. But Bookerly dials down much of Caecilia’s slabbiness, which ought to make it easier to read for long stretches.

Mostly, I’m glad Amazon is putting effort into their reading experience, and shipping software updates that improve that experience for existing users, rather than use the new font and layout improvements as a selling point to get existing Kindle owners to buy new devices.