Amazon accessibility architect Peter Korn has acknowledged to my friend David Faucheux that the company is well aware of TeleRead’s pleas for an all-text bold option for K-12 kids, senior citizens and others who would benefit.
So—any plans to act? Alas, Amazon is keeping mum. For now, corporate secrecy and control-freakdom are winning over decency and user wants and needs.
Of course Amazon more or less monopolizes the E Ink ereader market in the U.S.—I wonder how long until President Trump’s Justice Department latches on to that fact, as part of The Donald’s Putin-nasty antitrust plan against Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos. But we at least can dream of font choice.
We have such freedom in Kobo ereaders, which let you install your own .tff or .otf files or vary the boldness of most of Kobo’s built-in fonts.
But here’s an idea even better than Kobo’s. What if you could coax a font to be whatever width, height, weight and you-name-it that you wanted, without increasing the file size in your ereader? Those new capabilities are the goal of an initiative from Adobe, Apple and Google (details here and here). The above image, via Erik van Blokland, shows what the responsive concept would enable.
The three corporate partners have increased flexibility of Web design in mind, not ereaders in the Kindle and Kobo vein, and beyond that, I wonder if today’s ereaders would have the processing power for such miracles. My guess is not. Still, maybe Moore’s Law or a variant can someday bring us this miracle.
When you outfit yourself for glasses, you want just the right prescription—same for your kids’ eye-wear. Imagine if fonts were the same way. Perhaps you could even run a software program, measuring reading comprehension with various configurations, to come up with just the right choice for you. Meanwhile, as we’re dreaming of variable fonts, what a shame it is that Amazon can’t even attend to a basic like an all-text bold option or a boldness slider, the way Kobo has!
For now, don’t give up on the bold fonts. If you haven’t done so already, email email@example.com, since it’s very possible that Amazon’s resistance to the all-bold option is coming from the top. Be civil. But do tell him how disappointed you are, given the company’s reputation for responding to customer needs on many other matters.
Detail: Yes, I’d love Amazon to surprise me and start caring about font choice. Come on, Jeff. Stop being the Putin of the ereader font world. We need user choice, not Trump-and-Putin-style “strong men.”
(Big thanks to frequent TeleRead commenter Mike Perry for the tip about the variable font initiative.)