OOOOOHHHH, My Precious...Fonts?
Most people are not aware that just like books, the vast majority of fonts are copyrighted1. Which means that you need to license that copyrighted font before you can use it in an ebook.
The Kindle e-ink devices can only display a single font, called "Caecilia," which is essentially a Times New Roman clone, which looks like this:
Now, with the advent of the Kindle Fire, as well as ePUB format, numerous other fonts can be embedded. Many people use the fonts available through Word or their word processing programs on their computer--like "Calibri" or "Georgia," without knowing or realizing that those fonts are copyrighted, and are licensed to Microsoft, or Apple, and not to them, individually. For that matter, even licensing a font to use for "desktop publishing" is not the same as licensing a font for an eBook.
You can see screenshots of books that have used embedded fonts, versus how the book will appear on a Kindle e-ink with only the default Caecilia font, sprinkled throughout this article on font licensing and embedding.
Is Using Fonts a Problem?
Using embedded fonts is not a problem, for the formats that support their display (Kindle Fire, ePUB formats, iBooks, NookColor, etc.), as long as the fonts are licensed. Just as you would not want your work used without your permission, or payment, the same is true of font designers. If you want to use embedded fonts in your book, we can achieve this in one of three ways:
- You can, as the publisher, go out and license the fonts, download them, and then provide them to us for use in your book;
- We can assign one of our Publisher's Assistants to go out and license the fonts for you, and we'll charge the font price to you as an expense, plus the cost of our PA's time ($35/hour) for searching, finding, purchasing and downloading the font. Other than actual time expense, we don't "markup" the font price in any way; or,
- We can use Open Source (OS--freely licensable, for no money) fonts that are available on the Net, in lieu of your "copyrighted" font. This usually results in a fairly significant cost-savings to you, as most fonts require the use of three (3) licensable faces (regular, italic, bold, at least), and sometimes more. Each face tends to run about $30+/-, so licensing a font can easily run $100, just for one. We charge a single fee that includes our embedding fee, that is significantly less expensive than the average licensing fee plus the embedding fee. Obviously, due to the uniquity of some fonts, you'll want to use the original, licensable version, and that's just fine with us.
- If you don't like our collection or selection of the OS fonts that we choose for your book, we can assign one of our Publisher's Assistants to go to the various Open Source and Creative Commons-licensable font sites (in other words, free or nominally-priced) and find similar free fonts from which you may choose, in lieu of the more-expensive copyrighted fonts. For this we charge solely our PA's time for searching, comparing, and finding the replacement fonts, of which, of course, you have full final approval.
Of course, you can also peruse the free font sites yourself--like DaFont (my personal favorite), http://www.dafont.com, FontSquirrel http://www.fontsquirrel.com/ , or Urbanfonts http://www.urbanfonts.com/ (don't let their homepage scare you)--to find freely-licensable fonts that you can use in your final ebook!
Important note: using a font that is in your Word font-options (drop-down list), or Pages "font suitcase," and having it display inside the manuscript, or the PDF, is not sending us the font. The font files must be sent to us separately, by downloading them from either one of the font sites mentioned above, or by licensing and downloading them from the copyright-holder font foundries.
To see other examples of beautiful embedded fonts, please visit our Main Showcase Entrance, to see screenshots of examples of our work. You can see how a book with embedded fonts appears on a Kindle Fire, a Nook, and the Kindle e-ink device, by clicking through the various Galleries. Each Gallery has a lightbox show, with captions, so simply double-click an image and it will enlarge, and allow you to freely view all the images in a given gallery by clicking the forward/back arrows.
1Technically, under U.S. law, fonts are not subject to "copyright" itself. They are, however, Intellectual Property, and courts have upheld that web fonts, in particular (which are what are used in ebooks) are subject to rights and licenses. (See: Adobe Systems, Inc. v. Southern Software, Inc.; for a quick overview, the Wikipedia article that discusses this is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intellectual_property_protection_of_typefaces) and http://scripts.sil.org/cms/scripts/page.php?site_id=nrsi&id=UNESCO_Font_Lic. As our company deals with intellectual property every day--yours!--we won't violate the rights of a font copyright holder, no matter how large or small. We wouldn't do it to you, and we won't do it to them, either.