Two intelligent blog posts appeared today covering the new iBooks software and its choice of fonts; both of them included a link to my 2001 review of one of the new type choices: Iowan Old Style. I’m pleased to see John Downer’s Iowan Old Style get its due at last; I’m even more pleased to see iBooks expand its typographic palette in the direction of actual text typefaces. (Now about actual typography…)
Glenn Fleishman’s essay for Boing Boing is insightful and mindful of the cyclical development of typographic technology; he also mentions the current problems with trying to incorporate web fonts in e-books. Yves Peters in the FontFeed has more to say about the history of the typeface designs, and his illustrations cleverly show the fonts in all three of iBooks’ screen views or “themes.”
What I don’t understand is why Apple chose to drop three of the previous iBooks fonts (Cochin, Baskerville – really Monotype Baskerville – and Verdana). None of them were ideal for books onscreen, but why reduce the choices instead of simply adding to them?
And now the newly introduced Seravek is the only sans serif font available for reading in iBooks. It’s a nicely designed humanist sans, but it doesn’t have to be the only sans, humanist or otherwise, on the system. And the small eyes of Seravek’s e and a tend to visually close up under some circumstances.
[Image: one of the illustrations from Yves Peters’ review, showing Iowan Old Style. In the FontFeed original, you can click on any of the three sections to see the full page in that view.]