The average reader probably doesn’t think a lot about fonts, but they are important contributors to the reading experience.
A few weeks ago, Google announced a new typeface for Google Books, called Literata. The Next Web goes into more detail, but the gist is Google ebooks now have a font that distinguishes it from ebooks read on a Nook or Kindle, and it was created to give a better reading experience, with varied texture to make it more interesting. According to The Next Web, this font has been in the works since April 2014.
Interestingly, just a few days after Google announced its new font, Amazon announced Bookerly, the new font for Kindles. According to FastCoDesign, is a custom-made serif font that replaces Caecilia as the default font. The article says Amazon tested the font for increased legibility, reading speed, and reduced eyestrain–the article said, “According to Amazon’s internal tests, that means it’s about 2% easier on the eye.” Bookerly looks like a mix of Baskerville and Caecilia, and the new font will stand out with Kindle’s new layout engine, which makes the ebooks read a lot more like print books:
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.
The layout engine also contains some beautiful new kerning options. They’re subtle, but once you see them, you can’t unsee them: for example, the way that the top and bottom of a drop cap on the Kindle now perfectly lines up with the tops and bottoms of its neighboring lines. Like I said, it’s a small detail, but one that even Apple’s iBooks and Google Play Books doesn’t manage to quite get right.
It sounds like Amazon was working on these developments for a while, so it’s probably coincidence that Literata and Bookerly came out around the same time.
What I find particularly interesting is that new technologies and designs are geared towards replicating the print experience. In many ways, it makes sense, and I wonder if these types of changes will convince people who love print to embrace digital.
What do you think? Please share in the comments!