As usual with Kindle books, I struggled with rotten contrast between the words and the background, at least as perceived by me—an issue common to many of a certain age. I’d almost bought an Apple 6s Plus, just so I could use the Kindle iOS app, which does include Amazon Ember Bold, among other fonts. Maybe I should send the Pixel back.
Then I took a break from my library book and the David-hostile typography. Lo and behold, when I checked email, I saw a headline from Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader—Kindle for Android 7.12 to Add Ember Bold Font Option.
Sure enough, the Google Play Store offered to update my Kindle app. I let it, then eagerly returned to Richard Cohen‘s biography of Nora Ephron. No luck. I didn’t see Ember Bold among the typographical choices. Ouch! But when I deleted and reinstalled the Kindle app, it came back up with the Ember Bold option. I’d bought the used Pixel hoping that Amazon would eventually get around to Ember Bold in the Android app. So glad it happened a little sooner than I expected.
This victory for readers and commonsense follows years of efforts by TeleRead to persuade Amazon to do all-text bold—complete with plaintive pleas to email@example.com. First it happened on recent Kindles, then on Amazon’s iOS ebook app for the iPhone and iPads and now, mercifully, the Android one. Also speaking out were Nate, Kindle Chronicles host Len Edgerly, Barry Marks of Kindle Korner List and Jamie LaRue at the American Library Association. Jamie’s note to Jeff Bezos may finally have turned the tide.
My thanks, Jeff. I won’t expect miracles, but suspect that the new change will help your sales figures, especially when it comes to Kindles in schools and libraries, where legal accessibility requirements are tougher than for home use.
Now if we can only get you to lean on publishing houses to abandon encryption-based DRM in favor of watermarking (as a compromise to publishers worried about piracy). That would also boost revenue. Same for Amazon doing ePub. Ditto for text to speech in Kindle mobile apps regardless of Amazon’s Audible business—people will still want human narrators and extras such as author interviews. Meanwhile the boldface on my Android phone is definite progress. Coming soon for Fire tablets, too?
By the way, I’ve also tried Ember Bold on my Samsung tablet, and it looks good there, too, as is evident from the above screenshot. People can reach the bold menu via a tap on the Aa at the top of the screen when they’re in a book.
The bold wasn’t the only change in the Android app for the Kindle. “Now you can check the current time without leaving the page,” Amazon says in the Play Store. “Use the option in the Settings menu in the Library to display the clock, or tap the upper, left-hand corner of the page to toggle it on and off. The clock will not be displayed in some books including magazines, Print Replica textbooks, comics, and graphic novels.”
Detail: Nate had problems catching up with the new version of the Amazon app. Perhaps it’s not available yet for all versions of Android. My just-bought Pixel is running Nougat (7.1.2).
The library and digital divide angles: Android phones on the whole—not all of them—are cheaper than iPhones. So I’m especially happy to see bold in the Amazon app for Android. Meanwhile, no word from OverDrive as to if or when it will add bold to its Libby app even though it say accessibility features are on the way. Come on—if Amazon can shape up, you can.