The Future of Reading: Apple updates iBooks with new book fonts

Apple this week shipped a new version of its iBooks reader with four new fonts, picked especially for reading books on screen.
Although I love reading books on my iPad, I’ve always felt Apple could have done better for its iBooks reader than picking a selection from its OS fonts. Now it has…
The fonts include three serif faces – Iowan, Athelas and Charter – as well as the sans serif face, Seravek. The more observant will have noticed that it has replaced Verdana, which is gone.
The new fonts have been combined with other improvements, including a new Full Screen view which removes the visually distracting “page edges” graphic and leaves a beautifully clean reading page.
Iowan is a real gem of a book font. I’m currently reading a Robert Heinlein SF novel, in Iowan, in Full Screen mode, on my original iPad, and it’s the best eBook reading experience I’ve had yet.
You might think I’d be irate about the loss of Verdana, as the person who originally commissioned Matthew Carter to design it in 1995 (it was my first major project after I took over as leader of Microsoft’s Typography group in 1995) However, nothing could be farther from the truth. Verdana was originally intended to improve reading on the Web, and it was amazingly successful at doing that. It set a whole new standard for reading on the Web. But with its large x-height and very generous spacing, it never felt comfortable as an eBook font.


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