Typography snobs have never been happy with ebooks. Even though ebooks in their modern incarnation are less than two decades old, the snobs still object to the fact that the current ebook tech can’t equal the beauty of a paper book. Never mind that a paper book draws on a couple thousand years worth of art and engineering, ebooks still don’t measure up.
Design Week was inspired by the launch of the new basic Kindle this week to ask what a couple typography experts thought of Amazon’s new fonts, Ember and Bookerly. (The latter is over 18 months old, I know, but let’s skip that.)
One of the responses caught my eye, and not in a good way. Edenspiekermann co-founder Erik Spiekermann expressed a disappointing view ebooks:
“The Bookerly typeface is lovely and appropriate but nothing new for book designers. The layout also looks like a proper book page, albeit with bad hyphenation – 4 hyphens in a row already on the first page!”
“In other words, a page on a Kindle has finally almost achieved the look we’ve had in books for 500 years. But it still runs out of batteries, cannot be read in bright light and won’t survive a fall.”
Yes, folks, he thinks a Kindle can’t be read in sun light and won’t survive a fall, and he faults ebooks because in twenty years they have not achieved the same progress that paper books made in a millennia and a half.
That’s why Spiekermann thinks ebooks are doomed:
“I’m not holding my breath for the future of e-books. They are okay to replace cheap paperbacks, but real books have more to offer. Front and back covers – both flexible – the smell of ink, subtle shades of paper, printed spines and the right size to hold and read them anywhere, without looking at a light and without disturbing whoever is sitting or lying next to you.”
Yes, he thinks ebooks have absolutely no use as instant-large print editions, which is a surprise given that Spiekermann was born in 1947. He also sees no value in an integrated dictionary, sharing options, or the more esoteric options found in rich ebook formats like Apple iBooks.
No, ebooks are only good for replacing mass-market paperbacks.
And this guy is supposed to be an expert? It sounds to me more like he’s reached the “get off my lawn” stage of his career.
image by jm3