The Kindle finally gets typography that doesn't suck

Is that the “real” page number of the hardback, the paperback or trade paperback?

The theory that serifed ‘Book’, ‘Century Schoolbook’, ‘Bookman’ etc. fonts were more readable in any pragmatic sense was disproved by an exhaustive test of various fonts, serif and sans-serif, by Microsoft about 20 years ago. Physical type in a book was marginally/non-significantly superior, but electronic display showed no superiority whatsoever for serifed type. The whole thing is an almost hundred-year old urban legend, whether for comfort, speed, or comprehension, based on the untested assumption that the serifs ‘guided the eyes’. This myth preceded testing that demonstrated the saccadic motion of eyes in reading, and just about everything else.

Where I’m from, law submissions are now regularly typed up in sans-serif, but the local university still persists in the claim that papers submitted in Times are to be preferred for readability.

I don’t disagree with the aesthetics of Book-style typefaces, I rather like them myself. But they aren’t going to help me read electronic text any better.

Just the correct page number for the Kindle layout instead of that rubbish Location number.

I thought they’d introduced it but it isn’t always there.

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And that mythical “correct page number” changes whenever you alter the font size, or rotate the screen, or change devices. What you’re not getting, is that “page number” only applies to a fixed format, that simply doesn’t exist on a e-reader. I’m baffled as to why you even care. Just set a bookmark.

Don’t do any of those.

I just like page numbers as an indication of where I am in the book and how big the book is more that whatever ‘Location’ means, is all. I’d take percentage over that. It’s no biggie, just a preference.

Some ebooks do seem to offer pages instead of location.

How would a bookmark help?

Except they’re not “real” page numbers, but just a rough approximation. And it only corresponds to one version of the printed book. If it’s calculating on the hardback and you’re got the paperback, they’re probably not going to match up.

My Kindle shows the percentage on each page, along with a progress bar (which also has chapter marks). The main library index of books graphically shows the length of each book. You can get a good indication of how long a book is, by seeing where in falls between Jonathan Livingston Seagull and The Stand.

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Poor you.

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Thank you for this. Even in 1984, one got the feeling that Apple’s claims about the superiority of serif fonts (or maybe I’m supposed to say typefaces) was really about the fact that they offered different fonts at all. It was novel, in a world of whatever the command line typeface was for DOS, to have the option of New York or Times.

Aw, man! Where is the confirmation on that, or date?

Here’s the problem.

This is the IBM character set, as rendered by a EGA adapter.

You may have to look closely, but it is a serif font. It is also a fixed width font.

It’s also pretty clear-- I recall my Mom complaining about how the family’s Apple II rendered text-- yes, we did have a green screen, and a color monitor-- so no comments about chroma fringe, please.

I think Steve Jobs was a bit more excited about proportional fonts

You don’t have to. Supose you have a line that would be too crowded because of a long word at the end of the line, but have too much space if you don’t put it on that line. If you layout text by the paragraph, you can, for example, steal the last word from the previous line to make the next line work better, and the paragraph as a whole work better. TeX was doing stuff like this in 1978.

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I find it hard to notice any difference between this new font, and the existing ones. I’m sure I could pick out the differences side by side, but otherwise they’re all much the same.
I guess this puts me in the 98% of people who won’t find it any easier to read.

Several people, one response…

The layout engine is probably too difficult to replace, but fonts should be easily interchangeable on a rooted Kindle.

…also, from here, the last-as-of-now comment:

If you use calibre the font can be imbedded in a azw3 file and side loaded to an e-ink kindle and then in the settings set the font choice to publisher font.

I agree with the article that the new font is nice, but no big deal. It’s the crap typesetting getting markedly less crappy that really matters (to the sort of person who cares about such things). I doubt any amount of jailbreaking can currently fix that.

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That’s an issue then. There are some opensource readers out there (OpenInkpot perhaps? Though it seems to be dead now) but the development status tends to not be great. Albeit may be worth looking at…

Relevant thread here, though looking hopeless:

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Of course, the next inevitable complaint is that it matches the paperback, but from the “wrong” printing. What to do when the next has a longer introduction? NONE OF THE PAGES MATCH, THIS IS OUTRAGE.

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Why would it be poor me? I’m not the one wanting the page numbers.

You still get a pretty decent offset marker. If the text in the book editions is identical, you can fairly well linearly interpolate between the page numbers of different editions. When taking notes on paper (yes, some people incl. e.g. me do it), a page number is an useful marker of position.

And, because the publisher has control over the editions, there is always the possibility of making page matching tables between the different editions, for lookup. (So “page 342” in edition A can be matched to pages 320-321 in edition B and page 334 in edition C.) As simple as a lookup table.

Technically it can be done with the percentage offset too. But that includes a host of possible problems, e.g. with books that are formatted with citations each having its own one-line page. (Saw that. Was initially wondering why a simple short-ish book would have over 1000 pages.)

So while page numbers aren’t perfect (what is), they are useful enough to keep around for the foreseeable time.