An aside – Fonts on EInk Readers

For those that haven’t yet got the hint, I have a lot of love for my Kobo.

The screen fascinates me the most about the device. I can read on it for hours with no fatigue, which sets it apart from LCD screens and their ilk. Because of the static nature of the screens, reading on them is truly closer to reading on paper than a traditional active screen.

Most e-readers come with some choice of fonts, and some come with the ability to side-load fonts. The Kindle by default uses Caecilia, which is a heavy font, quite similar to Rockwell. It also comes with a Times-type font and a Helvetica-esque sans-serif font. The Kobo by default comes with quite a selection: Amasis, Avenir, Delima, Felbrige, Georgia, Gill Sans and Rockwell.

I spend (spent is possibly now more accurate) a lot of time reading Sci-Fi paperbacks; some modern, some from the 60s and 70s. Some of these books contain typeface information (although not as many as I would like), and four fonts kept recurring: Times, Palatine, Plantin and Sabon. Times in it’s various forms was adopted for being able to squeeze more letters on paper. Palatine is one of the pre-cursors to the legend that is Palatino. Plantin appears to have been designed to work well on both coarse and smooth paper, and adapts well to E-Ink screens. Sabon was designed so that bold and italic versions would occupy the same physical space as normal roman characters. This could prove useful with some e-readers that “crash” italic characters together when combined with normal roman characters.

I’ve been reading with Palatine for some time now, and although I have flirted with the other fonts, I keep going back to Palatine. It’s weighted slightly heavier than the others, which makes it very suitable for reading on E-Ink and give me the sensation of reading a paperback. I would not be surprised if this is having a dopamine-releasing effect on me, it’s that pleasing. Reading a font like Rockwell is not a pleasant sensation, my brain feels a stabbing sensation in the side of my head as I’m reminded this isn’t real paper, and I’m a traitor to dead-trees. I suspect this kind of psychological hangover, a ghosting effect of 20-plus years of reading culture will effect the younger generation less as time goes on.

So what fonts do you lot use to read with? And yes, I did side-load Comic Sans, for the lulz.