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Kindle for Android Updated with Collections, New Option to Enable/Disable Publisher Formatting

December 18th, 2013 by · 17 Comments · Amazon, Android, Kindle, software news

kindle itunes logoAmazon rolled out a new update for the Kindle Android app yesterday. In addition to the usual bug fixes, the app also gained a couple new features, some improvements which you might not notice, and at least one feature that took me several minutes to find.

The Kindle Android app now supports the collection feature which lets readers organize their ebooks, magazines and documents into directories (I’m old fashioned). The app also gained better support for the accessibility features in later versions of Android, including both Talkback and Explore by Touch.

The changelog also mentions a prompt that asks you to rate an ebook when you’ve finished it. I’m not sure what Amazon changed, but I do know that some version of this feature was already present in a previous version of the Kindle app; I remember writing about it.

And then there’s the biggie. According to the changelog, the Kindle app will now let you choose to turn on or off the publisher’s font choices. that’s not quite true. I’ve been playing with this feature this morning; it’s the one that was hidden and it took me some time to figure out that I had to press the Android menu button to see the menu where this option had been placed.

Edit: And now the option appears to have vanished after I reset the Kindle app. Weird.

Update: If you don’t have the menu button I mention, look in the upper right corner of the Kindle app. If you see an icon resembling 3 dots, press it. That is the menu where I found this option (confirmed on a Sero 7 Pro).

This option doesn’t just enable a publisher’s font; it also turns on and off the publisher designed formatting. Turning it on radically changed  the formatting of A Song of Fire and Ice.
The font changed, of course, but the screen margin also got wider and the the line spacing increased.

Here is a pair of before and after screenshots:

Someone please correct me if I’m wrong, but this is a new feature. And while I don’t care to use a publisher’s formatting (it often gets in the way of reading fiction), it’s still a good addition to the app.

Judging based on how often the topic comes up over at MobileRead, lots of readers want to use publisher formatting.  I can’t recall how many times I have read a complaint about Aldiko or some other reading app not supporting publisher formatting (or rather the reader didn’t know the option had to be enabled), so I am sure that Amazon has had similar requests.

Edit: And as a reader reminded me, controlled is often very useful for nonfiction where the text and illustrations have to fit just so or the reading experience could come up short.

You can find the app in Google Play and other fine establishments.

Changelog:

• Organize your books, magazines and documents into collections
• Accessibility improvements for Talkback and Explore by Touch
• Turn publisher fonts on or off
• Rate the book before you go

 

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17 Comments so far ↓

  • Jon Simpson

    Was interested in part of your comment, “…I don’t care to use a publisher’s formatting…”. As a publisher, I count on the CSS formatting decisions we make to present our illustrated non-fiction in the best way for our ebooks. If customers turn it off, the experience is likely to be lacking. Manufacturer device defaults vary, and not all of them are all that.

    • Nate Hoffelder

      Perhaps I should have qualified that more.

      Yes, controlled formatting is important for nonfiction content (this is kinda why the PDF format continues to hang on), but I mostly read novels. With fiction content, a publisher’s formatting tends to get in the way of a reader’s desire for optimal use of screen real estate.

  • Robert Nagle

    Nate, why would you say that publisher’s formatting gets in the way of reading fiction? Just curious.

    This may be more of an issue on the smaller readers and e-inks, but as an ebook formatter I find I can do a lot better job than the device’s default settings. Also, would be nice to have a different font once in a while.

    • Nate Hoffelder

      For one thing, justified text.

      This is a horrible fail on some ebook platforms because the platforms don’t have the tech to do it right. That’s why I like a ragged right, which will probably cause some creators to wince.

      And I also like to fit as much text on a screen as possible, which means narrow margins, tightly spaced lines, and other sins. Not all publishers will format the content the way I like it. Look at the 2 screenshots above, for example.

  • fjtorres

    As a reader, all I’m interested in is the story.
    And I prefer my reading experience be consistent from story to story, adhering to *my* preferences of font family, size, spacing, margin, kerning, and alignment. I don’t care if the publisher wants me to read on a futuristic sans serif font with drop caps at the start of each chapter.

    It’s my eyeballs and my reader.
    So I set overrides.

    At that, there’s lots of folks out there who go much further: they don’t just override ebook display, they deconstruct and reconstruct ebooks to *their* specs.
    (Shrug)
    Ebooks aren’t pbooks minus tree pulp: new era, new value propositions…

  • Juli Monroe

    So where did you find the option? I don’t know what you mean by pop up menu at the bottom of the screen. I don’t have a pop up menu, I don’t think.

    I’m still waiting for them to implement immersive mode in Kit Kat. Then I’ll move back from Moon+

    • Nate Hoffelder

      This is hard to describe because the action required to open the menu probably varies between versions of Android.

      Do you know the original 3 buttons on Android devices (home, back, and menu)? That menu button is what I pressed to bring up the popup menu.

      • Juli Monroe

        The Nexus 7 doesn’t have a menu button. Our third “button” brings up the fast app switcher. And a quick web search shows that I’m hardly the only one who can’t find it. Oh well. Until they implement immersive mode, I’m not using it anyway.

        • Nate Hoffelder

          I updated my Sero 7 Pro and looked again.

          Assuming that the Android 4.2 on my tablet is similar to whichever version of Andriod is running on your tablet, your version of this menu can be accessed from the 3 dot icon in the upper right corner of the kindle app’s menu bar.

          I had originally found this option on a smartphone running Android 4.0.4. That hardware is old enough it still had the old menu button.

  • Rashkae

    From your screenshots, the margins are the same, and the linespacing is probably just the result of the font change. You can see the same effect from different font choices on the Kindle.

    Edit: If the publisher css really was being tossed out, the margins would at least be made even.

  • Anthony

    I’m not sure if this is the same update, but when I ran it last night it deleted my account details and it would appear I’m not alone. There are a LOT of very unhappy Amazon customers the play store right about now. Unfortunately I didn’t notice the problem until several hours later, so I’ve been without my Kindle app for around 15 hours.

  • Meg Kelly

    I just spent two hours with Amazon chatbots because none of the stuff is showing up on my Nexus 7 app. Weeping, wailing, teeth-gnashing. There’s a circle of hell where you do nothing but have a chatbot ask you to log in and out for the seventh time.

  • Dave

    It appears the “Turn on/off publisher font” option is only available for some books. That is, it appears to be context sensitive. I only have one book where this option appears which is, “Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 Unleashed”, by SAMS. When I turn on the publisher font the text changes to a sans serif font (making it more difficult to read IMHO). If this is indeed the case, that the feature depends on the book, it would be a nice enhancement to the Kindle for Android application to make that clear.

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