Designers of ebooks are starting to grumble about Apple’s policy of locking down which fonts can be used on its iBooks platform.
Apparently iBooks 1.1 won’t recognise fonts applied with standard CSS to any body, p, div, or span element.
Apple’s guidelines say that designers choosing their own fonts would lead to “a bad user experience”, a claim which some are calling shortsighted.
Liz Castro from the enigmatically-named Pigs, Gourds and Wikis says that Apple is messing with the ePub standards it purports to support and tells the Cupertino company: “Your desire for control will ultimately break these standards or it will break iBooks. It will break standards as it incites designers to use ugly hacks to overcome iBooks’ broken support for standards. It will break iBooks as people design beautiful standards-compliant ebooks that look great in other readers that support standards. Or should we just go back to Internet Explorer 5?”
It’s true that Apple knows a thing or two about design, and most publishers will be happy to allow the company to restrict font use to tried and tested standards, but we can’t help thinking that a few friendly nudges in the right direction would be more palatable than this kind overbearing design inflexibility.
If publishers start producing ebooks with the kind of nightmarish typography which generally ensues when untrained designers are let loose in the font box, readers will soon start to vote with their credit cards. Badly designed books with unreadable fonts in multiple sizes just won’t sell.”