Scrivener support for eBook compiling in Japanese?

I came across an interesting challenge with Scrivener. It’s about a Japanese translation of my novels that I want to compile into eBooks with Scrivener.
Japanese eBooks are output in reverse reading direction (back to front) and the text runs vertically on a page, top to bottom, and right to left.
Is the Scrivener compiler technically capable of outputting the texts like this and is there already a tutorial available?


That’s a good question. Apple already provides top-to-bottom+right-to-left editing for Japanese and Chinese, which works in Scrivener (sadly, it is project-wide, so you can’t have some documents in a single project in C/J in that configuration, and others in English in normal configuration.

I haven’t yet tried compiling to eBook, so I don’t know whether it works there. I might try later with a small test project.




I would suspect this has a lot less to do with what Scrivener does, and a lot more to do with what the designer puts into the CSS compile format pane. With full disclosure, this is just me looking up available CSS formatting attributes and sticking them into Sigil. I haven’t tested this broadly, but adding this to the CSS pane in the compiler “works”:

p { writing-mode: vertical-rl; }

I have no real idea, other than this will depend mostly on CSS:

You’ll need to come up with a mechanism to tag blocks in the EPub if you want mixed mode. Remember styles and section types can be transformed to specific HTML, including attributes if you use Pandoc…

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But are they? I mean, do you know this to be true or are you just surmising? Because (though I have no special info in this domain), what you say here seems to me quite doubtful — which means you might want to check your understanding before investing time and energy in this. Let me explain why I say this.

  1. In an electronic format, there is a question of whether you swipe right or swipe left to get to the next logical page. But that is just a UI thing. The underlying document has only the job of having the first logical page first and the second logical page second, etc. This underlying structure does not itself dictate anything about what traditional practice of page turning the ebook reader should emulate.

  2. In fact, I would guess that if you were preparing a pdf of your book to send to a Japanese printer/publisher to produce a physical book, the first reading page of your book should be the first page of your pdf, not the last, etc. Because page imposition is the printer’s job and can be done either way from the very same pdf.

To repeat, I have no special information or experience in this area, but the above considerations have prompted me to say something anyway.

Thank you all for your replies. I am going to dig a bit deeper and do some research, probably buying a Japanese eBook and see, how it comes out on my eBook reader. I’ll be back …

Japanese (print) books can run either top-to-bottom/right-to-left or horizontally and left-to-right, like English. Japanese web pages usually run horizontally and left-to-right, except that graphic elements might have vertical text, and the vertical columns are arranged right-to-left.

I don’t have enough examples of Japanese typography in materials intended for native speakers to draw a definitive conclusion beyond “Here be Dragons!” I’d suggest consulting a Japanese-fluent designer.

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Thank you much for your reply. I’ll investigate this a bit deeper …