EPUB Enhancements for Japanese Text Layout

1. Project Overview

As a part of Japan’s “new ICT vitalizing project” sponsored by Japan Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications for FY2010, EPUB (Electronic PUBlication) which is a de facto standard of ePublishing, is targeted to adopt Japanese Text Layout features such as vertical-writing, Ruby and text-emphasis. So that, Japanese text contents can be read on any popular browsers and eBook readers in the world. Japan’s unique contents can be electronically distributed to the globe thus contribute to industrial re-vitalization and culture promotion.

2. Project Objectives

EPUB is an open eBook standard being developed by IDPF (International Digital Publishing Forum). Apple iBookstore, Sony Reader store, Google eBookstore, etc. adopt EPUB. If Japanese text layout features, currently not, is enabled to EPUB, they can be implemented on such web browsers and eBook readers sooner or later. Then, Japan’s text contents can be distributed to many countries, regions and people in the world electronically. It can help the ‘Cool Japan’ project led by the government as well.

3. The project and its outcome

As the current EPUB, version 2.0.1 is the latest, does not include Japanese text layout features, it cannot represent Japanese contents well. This project is aiming to break through the limitations. It has been asking IDPF for the features and resulted in EPUB3, a new version, to be published by May 15th, 2011.

EPUB3 will enable the Japanese features as major. In addition, the project has been technically assisting WebKit, which is an open source rendering engine broadly used by most web browsers and eBook readers. For eBook authors and publishers, a guidance and a manual have been prepared. For browser/reader developers, test suites have been prepared.

As WebKit has already started implementations, the nightly build, which is an early version of Safari using WebKit, shows vertical-writing, Ruby, text-emaphasis, tate-cyu-yoko, line-break and the Canary build of Chrome too, as Figure-1.

Figure-1 Japanese Text Layout Features

4. The project outcomes

  1. EPUB3 Specification
    1. IDPF EPUB3 Specification Public Draft released (February 15th, 2011)
    2. IDPF EPUB3 Specification Public Final to be released (May 15th, 2011)
  2. Promotion activities for EPUB3.0 Text Layout
    1. Providing technical assistance to the WebKit
    2. epubcheck test suite (brash-up for publishers and authors)
    3. epub-conform (CSS3 Writing Mode 3 and Text Level 3 test suites for developers)
  3. EPUB 3.0 Japanese Text Layout guide (for developers)
  4. EPUB 3.0 Japanese Text Layout Tutorial (for publisher and authors)

5. The plan for the next phase

  1. Look for how to adopt EPUB3 to Japanese comics and magazines and assist “Cool Japan” project
  2. Leverage SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) to Manga and other contents
  3. Joint efforts with DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) consortium to enable machine reading features for visual handicap people
2011/03/03 1:17