Digital Book World had an article yesterday on fonts and typography on ereaders. The author was not impressed with the new Bookerly and Literata fonts:
Commentators have tossed around celebratory remarks like, “the Kindle finally gets typography that doesn’t suck” and “e-readers rejoice!” But many of us in the cheap seats—that is to say, the production business—have been snorting, and expressing our deep skepticism about these typographical ‘innovations.’
Fair enough. While I have grown fond of the Bookerly font over the last couple of weeks, I’m hardly celebratory about it. I was also quite happy with Palatino and wasn’t unhappy with Cecelia when it was the best option for me on my old Kindle Touch. (Can’t stand it now, though.)
Perhaps I’m just one of those odd ducks who doesn’t properly appreciate fonts? When I get absorbed in a book, I barely notice the font or typography. Large expanses of white space don’t bother me much, although I generally keep my font size small enough that it’s not a problem. However, I do have some preferences for how a book looks on my ereader page, and this statement was somewhat chilling to me:
…setting the type “flush left/ragged right by default and more or less eliminating hyphenation on words less than seven characters long (and then with a minimum of three characters before or after a hyphen) would more directly address the problem of poor text setting” on many e-reading devices.
When I say I don’t notice fonts or typography, there is one exception. I detest flush left/ragged right. I can’t explain why, but when a book is hard-coded to ragged right, I notice it, and my enjoyment of the book decreases. Brandon Sanderson’s self-published books are all hard-coded to ragged right. I do buy them, and I do enjoy them, but it’s always oddly relieving to go back to a book which is full justified, large gaps and all.
My point is that when it comes to reading, ereading or otherwise, there’s rarely a one size fits all approach. I’m certain what I find pleasing on a screen would horrify a professional book designer. (The author of the DBW article had a pretty strong reaction to seeing her mom’s Kobo and the word layout thereupon. My reaction to the screen shot was more along the lines of “what’s the problem?”) I’d like to retain the flexibility to arrange words on a page in a manner I find pleasing. I’d rather a publisher or book designer didn’t make those decisions and leave me little room to change them, if their decisions get in the way of my reading enjoyment.
Of course, if they do, there’s always Calibre which will allow me to undo their elegant design and make it look pedestrian and the way I want. 🙂
Am I alone in my preferences or are there some other full justification fans out there?