Jason Snell Reviews the Kindle Voyage

Jason Snell:

Amazon’s been headed in this direction for a while now. The original Kindle screen was 167 ppi; the Paperwhite upped that all the way to 212 ppi. The Paperwhite’s screen is actually quite good, but the Voyage’s is still noticeably better. To put it in Apple terms, this is really the first Kindle with a Retina display.

Unfortunately, Amazon has invested all of this effort in improved reading technology only to find itself completely at sea when it comes to typography. The Voyage still only offers six typefaces — many of them poor choices for this context — and still force-justifies every line (with no hyphenation!), creating variable-length gaps between words just so the right margin is straight rather than ragged. A device that’s dedicated to words on a page, one with a screen this beautiful, deserves better type options.

It’s depressing that all my typographic complaints from two years ago still stand. Amazon hasn’t improved the typography of Kindles in any way since then, other than by increasing the resolution of the display. I’ll repeat now what I wrote then:

Amazon’s goal should be for Kindle typography to equal print typography. They’re not even close. They get a pass on this only because all their competitors are just as bad or worse. Amazon should hire a world-class book designer to serve as product manager for the Kindle.

They should either devise or license (from Adobe?) a world-class hyphenation-justification algorithm while they’re at it. I’ll never buy another Kindle device until they fix this.

Update: Numerous readers have pointed out that they could just use the excellent open-source hyphenation algorithm from TeX.

Monday, 10 November 2014