Chapter 8. Global Language Support

Murata Makoto

CTO, Japan Electronic Publishing Association

Although EPUB 2 was widely adopted in North America for ebook production, and to some extent in Europe, it has begun to gain traction worldwide only since the advancements made in EPUB 3 to support a more diverse range of languages, writing modes, and styles. The sudden growth in IDPF membership in new areas, most notably Asia, that has occurred both during and since the release of EPUB 3 reinforces that the format is now truly the global standard for ebooks.

Back when the EPUB 3 revision was first being chartered, the lack of global language support was recognized as one of the key deficiencies that needed to be addressed. It was difficult at that time to use EPUB for books in Arabic, Hebrew, Japanese, Chinese, and Taiwanese (among many others), because it lacked effective mechanisms to handle more than left-to-right, horizontal text flows. To overcome this problem, the IDPF created the Enhanced Global Language Support subgroup to carry out an examination of the issues needed to upgrade support during the EPUB 3 revision. I, Murata Makoto, was the lead of that group, and this chapter will review the mechanisms that we developed to address these issues.

The goal of this chapter is twofold. First, it gives a tutorial of those features of EPUB 3 for global language support. Second, it shows best practices for EPUB authors. Some of the practices outlined are prescriptive, while others are intended ...

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