Stuff I Found

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Why e-books are ugly

According to this article (blog post, or whatever it is):

After spending a weekend with the Sony e-book reader, I found that the convenience of having so many books in a single, lightweight, slim device had me hooked, and its screen offers nearly print-like readability. But after about four hours of flipping through blocks of grey text I found myself feeling strangely melancholic. It couldn’t have been the lack of sunshine. Moving from one book to another, while easy, didn’t help: I was still staring at the same font, the same gray background and the same basic layout.

I had stumbled onto the reason why design and fonts are so important in publishing, says Mark Simonson, an independent typeface designer.

“Different typefaces are like like having different actors in play or different voices in an audio book,” Simonson says. “The variations in typeface influence the personality of the book. Sticking to one font is much like having the same actor play all the different parts.”

It’s why creative directors at publishing houses try so hard to make one book feel different from another, says Henry Sene Yee, creative director for publishing house Picador.

This is a great point, one that I didn't make in my blog post Why e-books stink. Maybe the effect of a certain font is a bit subconscious, but it's there. If all the books in the world had the same font and size and style and layout, I doubt we'd like it very much! Even our online blogs have a variety of fonts and layouts; default templates get extremely boring. Unique layouts and designs give the text "personality" ...

So allow different fonts and layouts, e-readers! (Maybe some already do?)


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