Recently I was asked by my Dad to test whether a Japanese eBook would work on my Kobo Touch. He said he saw various online sites which confirmed it was possible to display Japanese as long as you had the right fonts installed. So I had a look at one of the sites. Here’s the link:
The font on this site is a version of Unicode developed by GNU. It is therefore free and opensource. The idea of Unicode is to provide a unique number to every individual character regardless of platform, program or language.
Unicode is developed by a non-profit organisation and is supported by many major companies, including Apple and Microsoft. You can read more about it here.
Anyway, the GNU Unifont can be downloaded from the developer’s site here
or from the site listed earlier on which the author has kindly provided their own link.
I can confirm that this unicode font does work with Japanese. I also tested it with a few other random languages and I can confirm that it works with Chinese (which I can’t read properly but I can recognise the characters) and displays Hebrew (which I can’t read at all).
So for anyone who wants to get this working on their Kobo, here’s a quick guide.
Download the font from either of the sites above.
Unzip the folder and locate the file so you have the font file unifont-5.1.20080907.ttf handy.
Install the font on your Kobo using the instructions here.
After you have turned your Kobo back on again locate the eBook you wish to view and open it. In my case I have a Japanese book. I don’t actually know what it is as I downloaded a random one from Project Gutenberg. I can read Japanese so for the purposes of the experiment it didn’t really matter what the text was. If you would like more information about free eBooks in various languages I wrote a post about some good sites to have a look at. Project Gutenberg is always a good place to start. There are links to PG and all my favourite free eBook sites here.
Most likely when you first open it the text will look something like the photo below. So tap the screen to get your menubar and then tap the font option.
Change the font to unifont (usually at the bottom of the font list) and then exit the menu.
Your text should now be fully legible. Here’s a random Japanese eBook from PG for example:
I’ve noticed that the Japanese free eBook market tends to be in TXT format. I only really read manga though, so I have not investigated it much…. I have tried converting one to ePub with some success. I will try and write a post about it in the near future.