If you've been looking forward to the possibility of fancier layouts in the Kindle app for the iPad then I have some bad news for you. Numerous ebook developers have been telling me, both by email and on Twitter, that the promised new features are almost impossible to find.
Last Wednesday Amazon made bold promises when they announced an update to the Kindle app for iOS. They said that the app had a new way of displaying text which would automatically add dropcaps, fix the spacing between words, and add hyphenation.
All that sounds great, but now that a week has passed the general consensus among ebook developers is that the announcement is little more than vaporware. While the feature list sounds great and the new formatting looks very pretty in the handful of ebooks which support it, few developers have been able to produce an ebook which had the new features.
Amazon said that the new typography would be added automatically, but over the past week several developers have sent me screen shots like the one at right. (Thanks, Derrick!)
Do you see the giant spaces called out by the ovals? They're not supposed to be there. Amazon was supposed to have fixed the way this ebook was displayed before it ever showed up on screen, but they did not. Instead, the ebooks look just as bad as they did last month or last year.
As someone who likes pretty ebooks, and knows people who want to create pretty ebooks, this is very frustrating.
And to make matters worse, Amazon also promised that certain ebooks already had the feature on the day it was announced last week. They posted a list of 58 titles which were supposed to have the new hyphenation and the new word spacing, but unfortunately testing has shown that not to be the case.
In short, folks, the new typography is little more than vaporware at the moment. While an Amazon rep did tell me today that they were "working hard to make sure all Kindle books benefit from these features soon", the rep was unable to give me a specific timetable.
I'm sure all the ebooks in the Kindle Store will get the new typography, but whether that will be accomplished by next month or next year, Amazon will not say.