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.
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.
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