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Add custom fonts to a Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle 650x510 Add custom fonts to a Kindle Paperwhite

DISCLAIMER:
This is a simple procedure of dragging and dropping files to your origional Kindle Paperwhite while in USB mode. This is not a hack and does not require you to jailbreak your Kindle. That said, I take no responsibility for what may happen to your device in the unlikely event anything goes wrong.

Recently I stumbled on the amazing free and open source dyslexia typeface called ‘Open Dyslexic’. You can download it from OpenDyslexic.org.

I find reading numbers to be my main issue. Especially numbers I then have to input into a keypad. I’ve never been diagnosed with dyslexia of any kind but after a few minutes reading the Open Dyslexic font though, I felt a marked improvement with my ability to scan and follow text. I was reading faster and longer than ever before.  I was genuinely impressed and really wanted to get the font onto my Kindle Paperwhite for further testing.  After googling a few different Kindle hacking sites I found this simple system that requires no real hacking or jailbreaking of your device.

As far as I know this only works with the original Kindle Paperwhite running firmware 5.3.1 and above.

Adding custom fonts to your Kindle Paperwhite

1]  Connect your Kindle Paperwhite to your computer via ‘USB Drive Mode’.

2]  Create a file called USE_ALT_FONTS and drop it onto the Kindle’s root directory. (I created a text file and removed the .rtf from the end.)

3]  Create a new folder on the Paperwhite called ‘fonts’.

Kindle root folder Add custom fonts to a Kindle Paperwhite

The root folder after adding the unspecified file and fonts folder.

4]  Drop your TTF or OTF fonts into the folder. I used Open Dyslexic but any fonts will work if they are named in the standard format.

font folder Add custom fonts to a Kindle Paperwhite

The font folder after adding fonts

5] After you have added your fonts, disconnect your Kindle and then make sure you restart it from the menu.

Mine actually took a couple of restarts as I’d forgotten to eject the Kindle from my Mac but after restarting I opened a book, tapped the ‘Aa’ icon on the top left and there were my new fonts.

Fonts listing 481x650 Add custom fonts to a Kindle Paperwhite

Open Dyslexic fonts listed

Reading Open Dyslexic on the Kindle is a revelation for me. I really can keep my concentration and read for much longer than with the standard fonts.  I’m wondering why this kind of typeface design is not installed as standard on all e-readers.

I’m using firmwear 5.3.6 on my original Kindle Paperwhite and have no idea if this modification can be made to work on the new Kindle Paperwhite 2.

Mostly I’m hearing it doesn’t work on the newer Kindles although if you do get the ‘Please Repair’ message, all you need to do is remove the unspecified file and font folder and restart then the device. That should restore the kindle to normal.

I hear it also helps to install all typefaces available i.e.:

Fontname-Regular.otf
Fontname-Italic.otf
Fontname-Bold.otf
Fontname-BoldItalic.otf

(.otf or .ttf will work)

Needless to say, before you attempt to tamper with any e-reader you should really back it up.

I use Calibre to manage my ebooks. It has all kinds of handy features from adding metadata, converting to other formats and if you install some third party plug-ins you can even remove DRM.

I’ll leave you with the first page of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas so you can see what the font looks like in a block.  I use tight line spacing and a larger spacing may help you even more.  For the moment this really suits me.

Will the novelty wear off?  Perhaps.  I’m just amazed at how I’ve previously taken typefaces for granted.  Now that I can see firsthand how a simple change in design can affect how I digest information, I’ll certainly be exploring some of the other reader friendly fonts out there.

HST 481x650 Add custom fonts to a Kindle Paperwhite

 

About Documentally

Talking, teaching and documenting using mobile tools. Running workshops and consulting worldwide with a focus on social technology.

Comments

  1. If this font helps make your text easier to read, it’s also worth setting your text to be left justified only and seeing if that makes a difference too… (if you can do that on a Kindle?)

    Studies usually find that most people find left justified text easier to read – the regular spacing helps your eyes to flow over the text at a more constant rate while the irregular right hand side provides extra visual cues to your eyes when scanning or reading text to help you know where you are in a page, thus make moving on to the next line easier.

    Apparently (if memory serves correct!) many printed documents ended up with both left and right sides justfied as the publishers think/thought it looked neater – they weren’t concerned by the readability of the text.

  2. pantofola says:

    Hi, I tried with the new Kindle Paperwhite and the trick is not working for me… Any insights? Thanks!

  3. Grante Marshall says:

    Golden nugget of information! Now have my PaperWhite first edition and new font
    works perfectly!

    Thanks for the great tip! :-)

  4. Marcus1571 says:

    This past Friday I sold my Kindle Paperwhite 1st gen. On Saturday I bought my Kindle Paperwhite 2nd gen.
    I am quite disappointed about this development, I really got so used to read my books with Myriad Pro. I hope someone will soon find an easy hack like the one in this article.

    Please, Mr Documentally: keep up posted!!! :-)

  5. Lucas Trugeda says:

    There might be a workaround. In case you didn’t know, there’s a hidden folder called “system” in the root directory of the Kindle. Inside it, there’s an empty folder called “fonts”. I’m going to try drag a font in there, reboot and see if something changes. I was going to do so with OpenDyslexic, but unfortunately I can’t download it. The download page looks empty for me.

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