Kindle 3 – CJK (Japanese, Chinese, Korean), Cyrillic fonts supported

This is big news about the Kindle WiFi and Kindle 3 and strangely not included in the Press Release -

Support for New Characters

Kindle can now display Cyrillic (such as Russian), Japanese, Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), and Korean characters in addition to Latin and Greek scripts.

That means Amazon can use Kindle 3 to enter a lot of new markets – Russia (Cyrillic font), China, Japan, Korea, and more.

What other Font Features have been added in Kindle 3?

Well, we now have three font styles available on the Kindle -

  1. The standard serif font Caecilia. This is what all the prior Kindles had.
  2. A condensed version of the Caecilia font – Played with this a bit and it didn’t look so good though it is pretty condensed.
  3. A sans-serif font. 

Serifs are little embellishments on alphabets. A serif font has these. So, for example, there will be little flourishes on some alphabets like ‘N’. On the other hand, a sans-serif font uses none of these flourishes/serifs and is easier for computer screens to display.

By allowing both Serif (which looks better on paper and presumably on eInk) and Sans-Serif (which looks better on computer monitors) Amazon are letting users choose what they prefer. Always a good thing.

Kindle 3 – CJK Fonts and Cyrillic Font Support

Here are the new fonts Kindle 3 and Kindle WiFi now support -

  1. Chinese Traditional and Simplified. This would explain the rumors of Amazon getting its Chinese subsidiary ready to ship Kindle 3 in China.
  2. Japanese. Japan is a pretty big market and this should allow Amazon to take a shot.
  3. Korean. Obviously lets Amazon target North and South Korea.
  4. Cyrillic. This will allow support for Russian, Bulgarian, Bosnian, Belarusian, Macedonian, Ukrainian, Uzbek, Mongolian, Tajik, and other languages. It’ll help Amazon sell Kindle 3 in East Europe, Russia, and countries in that part of the world.  

There are lots and lots of nuances – For example, CJK languages can be written either left to right or top to bottom.

It’s pretty impressive that Amazon got the time to add Kindle CJK support and Kindle Cyrillic support. It makes Kindle 3 and Kindle WiFi even likelier to be huge hits.

14 Responses

  1. Do you know if the new kindle is using unicode to enable the new fonts ?

    • No idea how they’re doing it. They didn’t mention it when I met them and it wasn’t even in the Press Release. It’s only on the product page.

  2. This is GREAT (repeat: GREAT) news!
    I have been waiting for this news since 2007.
    I really hope that this is included in other Kindles with an update.
    If not, then I may consider replacing my new DX with the K3. Most all of the books that I read are in Japanese or Korean, so PDFs are my only solution.

    It would also be nice to see Amazon stores in other countries start selling eBooks.

  3. I understand the display font technology. The big issue if you happen to be Chinese or Russian is the keyboard-I wonder how they are going to do any keyboard remapping to accommodate the language…

    …and because I like to throw the occasional phrase in my books using Cyrillic characters, it will be interesting to see if Kindle can handle mixed character sets…

    Zack

  4. Thanks. One question: Is the page number identification improved? If I need to cite, then it is easier with hard copy. The e-reader makes it difficult to know the page number. Is this improved in K3?

    • No, it’s still locations.

      • This is so sad. I want to buy but I cannot. How can I cite things from books? Is there a preferred mechanism to cite things via Kindle? Why is Amazon not having a section about page numbers citations, etc.? Seems like a real good opportunity.

      • Not sure. It’s a pretty tough problem with the changing font sizes. Plus how do you get your page numbers to match the page numbers in books?

      • Well, I think they can keep a hard page number and add it to the locations. May be using some metadata. I just think that w/o page number (true), it will continue to be a hard sell. People read books. People take notes. People like to cite things. How would one do on Kindles? I think this is a serious issue. I am confused as to why no one is asking Amazon about this. In fact, I have no one even raise this issue in the press.

  5. There are no page numbers in Mobipocket (i.e. Kindle AZW) or ePub electronic books. They don’t exist and cannot, hence asking for them over and over will not conjure them into being.

    • But on the Amazon Kindle discussion site, poster “Mark Twain” writes:

      Sony and many producers of Epub digital books have found a very simple fix for this: place the print version page number faintly at the end of a line of text on the right margin. It is completely non-distracting, but easy to find if you are looking for it. Why Amazon won’t do this with Kindle books is beyond me.

      Kindle Discussion Forum

  6. I was very excited to see the additional language support (Korean! Yay!) But today I was looking at it again and noticed that part is gone from the product description. Weird.

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