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Preview of new fonts on Kindle 2


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Initial post: Apr 3, 2009 6:10:27 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 3, 2009 6:30:21 PM PDT
Theodore says:
Yes, it's true.
I am part of a small group beta testing software that allows modification of the native Kindle 2 fonts. It actually works. Please see the following page for examples.
In this case, I switched the serif fonts for a sans-serif font to get around the "whispy" font issue. I also changed the native sans-serif font for a darker one.
This is but one example. An updated font could be any TrueType font.

During the testing, I found that Amazon's default font is superb. compared to any other serif font, at the sizes used for the K2 screen, the Kindle's native font is vastly better. So, while we may complain about it, it really is an extremely good font.

Here's the link to the samples:
http://sites.google.com/site/kindle2ui/newfonts

Edited: I should not that these are by no means optimized. I just picked some fonts that had the basic characteristics we were looking for. However, I think the bolded sans-serif font is too bold. I'll be on the lookout for some good fonts and will post more pictures as the experiments progress.

Posted on Apr 3, 2009 6:26:13 PM PDT
Susanmarie says:
Saw the photos: I much prefer the Sans serif fonts!

Posted on Apr 3, 2009 6:36:01 PM PDT
Gretchen Z says:
Om my! I hope you're not toying with my emotions! LOL
I so prefer the sans serif fonts! They're so much more clear and crisp and would make my reading experience much better!
I'm crossing my fingers and toes for an update. Please hear me Amazon Gods! 8-)

Posted on Apr 3, 2009 7:19:34 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 7, 2009 5:03:27 PM PDT
Bufo Calvin says:
Ted-san, are they allowing you to install new character sets, such as Hiragana or Cyrillic?

That would be a much sought-after expansion. :)

Bufo Calvin

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2009 7:25:36 PM PDT
Theodore says:
In fact, that's exactly what the developer did - he supported unicode fonts.
Unfortunately, I don't have a good set of unicode fonts to try it with, but I did verify that it works. However, no Asian fonts. They noted that there was a limitation in the way the Kindle was handling fonts that prevented them from working. However, Cyrillic worked!

Posted on Apr 3, 2009 8:24:50 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 7, 2009 5:03:47 PM PDT
Bufo Calvin says:
Horoshow, Ted-san!

Several posts here have asked about Cyrillic, so that's a plus. :)

By the way, I was always amused by that. In the movie of A Clockwork Orange, the main character says, "Horoshow". I've heard many people interpret that as "horror show", but it's the Russian word for (roughly), "Cool!" ;)

Bufo Calvin

Posted on Apr 3, 2009 8:45:40 PM PDT
LadyHawke says:
Ted-san, interesting work you're involved in. I see that your page refers to this as a hack so I take it this is something not being developed by Amazon? I know you don't have any control over Amazon and the Kindle developers but is it your thought that Amazon could utilize your work and develop a firmware upgrade that the users can download? Or do you see this as something that only savvy users can use to modify their devices on their own?

Posted on Apr 3, 2009 9:11:11 PM PDT
I bet this modification would violate your Amazon warranty, for sure.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 4, 2009 4:34:24 AM PDT
Theodore says:
This is like the the "screen saver hack" that was done a while back.
For me, it's "proof of concept" work. By experimenting and finding display fonts that people like, we can lay some of the groundwork so that Amazon can see what's possible and what some of the customer base likes. It's like a little free market research for them.

As Susan says, things like this, even through they're a simple software patch, are likely to void warranties. However, once the bugs are worked out, it should be available to anyone who is daring enough to try.

Posted on Apr 4, 2009 7:16:18 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 7, 2009 5:06:33 PM PDT
Bufo Calvin says:
Ah, I didn't realize it wasn't an Amazon beta test initially!

For me, I don't install new, unauthorized scripts on my Kindle. Here is a little bit of the Kindle TOS (Terms of Service):

======================
"...You may not, and you will not encourage, assist or authorize any other person to, modify, reverse engineer, decompile or disassemble the Device or the Software, whether in whole or in part..."
======================

Here is the link to the entire TOS:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200144530

I'd be worried that putting a script on the Kindle is "modifying" the software. That's just me, though. :)

Bufo Calvin

Posted on Apr 4, 2009 7:45:30 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 4, 2009 7:46:01 AM PDT
Ted-san, have you even read the Kindle License Agreement and Terms of Use? It quite clearly states - "No reverse engineering, Decompilation, Disassembly, or Circumvention: You may not, and you will not encourage, assist or authorize any other person to modify, reverse engineer, decompile or disassemble the Device or the Software, whether in whole or in part, create derivative works from or of the Software, or BYPASS, MODIFY, DEFEAT or TAMPER with or circumvent any of the functions or protections of the Device or Software or any mechanisms operatively linked to the Software.....

Just as an FYI to those who aren't familiar with "hacks" to devices like the Kindle, this type of thing (replacing the Kindle fonts) completely goes against your user license agreement with Amazon, and/or could potentially render your Kindle useless and void of any warranty repair/replacement by Amazon. As is stated on the page that Ted-san directed you too: "It definitely isn't for the casual user as misuse of the software can lead to a non-functional Kindle." So, even this simple of a hack, recommended by Ted-san, has known issues.

In addition, Ted-san's "encouraging" others to use this type of hack is against Amazon's License Agreement.

Be warned, and be aware.

Posted on Apr 4, 2009 12:07:14 PM PDT
Theodore says:
Excuse me, but nowhere am I encouraging others to do this. I intentionally did NOT provide a link to the website hosting this work for exactly the reasons mentioned and I take great exception to the implication that I am inducing others to do something that violates Amazon's TOS.

What I am doing is showing a "proof of concept", based on the work of others, to address the primary shortcoming of the Kindle 2 customer base. Anyone who has followed my postings will plainly see that my number one goal is to help advance the state of the Kindle, so as to make it an even more useful device for e-book enthusiasts. The desired outcome of this work is simply for Amazon to add an option to the reading menu that allows the user to display the fonts in a way that improves the "user experience."

I will add that I am strongly against any actions that would attempt to circumvent Amazon's DRM or use the Kindle for purposes other than those which it was designed. As a long time software developer, I am extremely sensitive to these issues and believe piracy of all sorts is unethical and should not be encouraged.

Posted on Apr 4, 2009 12:19:14 PM PDT
Theodore says:
By the way, you are violating the TOS by adding a "skin" to your Kindle 2 because this modifies the device.

Posted on Apr 4, 2009 1:00:59 PM PDT
Spad says:
Good work, Ted-san. I also prefer the cleaner, higher apparent contrast of sans-serif fonts on these things. I appreciate that you have the ability and cajones to explore the Kindle's possibilities.

Posted on Apr 4, 2009 2:00:00 PM PDT
c'est moi says:
Wow, Ted-san. Fantastic display. Very encouraging!

Posted on Apr 4, 2009 2:54:21 PM PDT
Fascinating. Normally I find serif fonts much more readable for body text, but the stroke width on the current Kindle 2 font is awfully narrow; the broader stroke width on that example san-serif font makes up for the lack of extra visual letter-shape cues quite nicely. I'd love it if Amazon supported that font as an alternative.

Posted on Apr 4, 2009 3:55:16 PM PDT
Theodore says:
For those who are interested, I have taken screen captures that you may download and display on your own Kindle to see *exactly* what your screen looks like with the different fonts.

http://sites.google.com/site/kindle2ui/screencapturesamples

These are unretouched screen captures, taken from My Kindle 2.
You may download them from the library.

All you need to do is save the images to a folder within the "Pictures" folder on your Kindle, "font samples" for example. Then, when you get back to the home screen, press "alt-z". That scans your Kindle for new files. The pictures library "font samples" will then show up on your home page.
Just select it, then press F on the keyboard to display the pictures in full screen mode.

Note: this is not installing any software or doing anything else nefarious. All you are doing is viewing some images on your Kindle.

Posted on Apr 5, 2009 5:04:21 AM PDT
Cindy H. says:
Ted-san, kudos to you!! I read the original posts and was very intrigued by your findings. I never felt like you were 'encouraging' folks to try this software change. I was grateful to know there are folks like yourself exploring and experimenting this wonderful device to improve it's functionality. I love my Kindle, but if Amazon can be shown possible improvements, fantastic!! Keep up the good work, you are very much appreciated!! :)

Posted on Apr 5, 2009 7:22:29 AM PDT
Wow, the new fonts are so much better. I hate the idea of hacking my kindle, but those fonts are such an improvement that I may not be able to resist. Please keep us updated.

Posted on Apr 5, 2009 8:18:41 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 5, 2009 8:19:26 AM PDT
sf47 says:
We've seen vast room for improvement in font rendering, via images brought up by the web browser on the Kindle. In my opinion, it is now definitive that Amazon screwed up its implementation of smaller font sizes on the Kindle 2, from size 1 all the way up to 4.

The key is toning down or turning off antialiasing for the smaller reading sizes. That's the only way that the Kindle 2 could come close to the superior font rendering of the Kindle 1.

Your comments lauding the default serif font on the Kindle 2 begs the question, does this hack address antialiasing in any meaningful way?

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 5, 2009 12:24:54 PM PDT
Theodore says:
The anti-aliasing is an open issue. The patch for fonts that I'm experiementing with is simply for font replacement. I'd love to see what the native fonts look like without the anti-aliasing applied. Though at this point, I'm addicted to the darkness of the small sans-serif fonts that I installed (Franklin Gothic Medium) and that will never be matched by the native font because the serif fonts are much thinner. Even at size 1, the sans-serif font has two full black pixels for each vertical stroke, though it still suffers on diagonals. However, those are barely noticeable.

To get an idea just how clear it is, I was reading yesterday in a dimly lit room as the sun was setting. It really matched a physical book experience. Just amazing. We can only hope that Amazon actually provides a couple of options for font rendering because now that I've seen how good the sans-serif is, I don't want to go back!

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 6, 2009 7:20:16 PM PDT
B. Berard says:
Ted-san, Man I wish Amazon would incorporate this ASAP. I really like the Kindle 2 BUT I suffer a lot of eye strain from reading books on it. In fact my prescription glasses for reading just don't cut it and I actually have to use magnification non-prescription glasses in order to read books on my K-2!

What you describe is exactly what I need! Cmon Amazon give those of us that want this a CHOICE!

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 6, 2009 7:47:13 PM PDT
B. Berard says:
Ted-san I copied your web link and pasted it and it takes me to a site which I get the following:

Kindle2
Page not found

We're sorry, but we were unable to locate the page you requested.

Go to Home

Sign in Home Sitemap Terms Report Abuse | Powered by Google Sites

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 6, 2009 8:37:38 PM PDT
Theodore says:
Oops, sorry folks. i changed the way I stored things a bit.
There''s a library of images that you can download and transfer to your kindle
http://sites.google.com/site/kindle2ui/lib

And the original site with the photos of the before and after. These are slightly out of date now because I've hand tweaked the fonts for optimal contrast, but they'll give a good idea

http://sites.google.com/site/kindle2ui/newfonts

Let me know if any of this doesn't work for you.

For your convenience, I've uploaded the images to another server. Here are some direct links:
http://www.etccreations.com/SansS1.gif
http://www.etccreations.com/SansS2.gif
http://www.etccreations.com/SansS3.gif
http://www.etccreations.com/SerifS1.gif
http://www.etccreations.com/SerifS2.gif
http://www.etccreations.com/SerifS3.gif

Posted on Apr 7, 2009 7:38:56 AM PDT
B. Berard says:
Thanks Ted-san! Now Amazon when will you give me the CHOICE to use these fonts so I will no longer suffer the eye strain when reading my books on the Kindle 2?

This is my only gripe and to me it's very significant! Other than that I really like my Kindle. I just want to make reading easy on my eyes. Just think Amazon, if you gave us a choice on Fonts like described here we could actually read books faster and we would be buying MORE books!
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Discussion in:  Kindle forum
Participants:  16
Total posts:  30
Initial post:  Apr 3, 2009
Latest post:  Apr 8, 2009

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