Japanese On The Kindle Part II: A New Hope?

05 Jul

I’m allowing myself to get a little bit excited, because it seems that Japanese actually CAN be displayed on the Kindle. I’m still looking into encoding issues (I thought I’d tried everything but apparently not!) but my idea for bilingual ‘learning stories’ might work after all–fun, easy to read short stories of around two thousand words, first in English then in Japanese, with vocabulary and learning notes at the back. There’s nothing like this out there, and I think the idea could really take off with both Japanese students of English and with people learning Japanese–it can be really difficult finding reading material if you’re a beginner, or even intermediate student of the language. I’ve heard that ‘cell phone novels’ have been increasing in popularity in Japan recently, ‘amateurs’ writing and distributing stories cheaply. Certainly parallels there with the international indie authors community 🙂

Now I just have to figure out where Amazon’s hidden the relevant information I need on formatting Japanese HTML for the Kindle. UTF8 would seem obvious but I’m certain I tried that last time and it didn’t work. Oh well, seems like I’ve got some experimentation ahead of me.


Posted by on July 5, 2011 in Of Writing


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3 responses to “Japanese On The Kindle Part II: A New Hope?

  1. Mark Williams International

    July 6, 2011 at 07:48

    Intrigued by this, Benjamina.

    Is the Kindle actually being bought in significant numbers in Japan?

    So far it seems very much an Anglophone-biased device. Although there is now a German Kindle site Amazon do not even sell Kindles with German instructions, and outside of Germany Kindles seem pretty unknown in non-English speaking / writing Europe.

    But love the idea. You must come over to MWi and tell us more when you’ve worked it all out.

    As someone based in West Africa where books are almost impossible to come by I’m hoping donated obsolete e-readers, a few years down the line, will transform education prospects for the world’s poorest.

    One of my projects here is to transcribe existing text books for e-readers.

    In two years time most of our Kindles will be gathering dust in drawers as we move on to the latest gadget. A few dozen donated to a school could give kids here access to textbooks currently either unaffordable or simply unavailable.

    • Ben White

      July 6, 2011 at 12:42

      The Kindle isn’t doing very well in Japan right now, no thanks to Amazon’s lacklustre international efforts, but a lot of people there have iPhones–and I’m hoping that DoCoMo or one of the other big cellphone companies work with Amazon to bring a Kindle app to their mobiles. I’m also hoping that Amazon starts to aggressively target Japan, with the right marketing campaign the Kindle would be huge there. It might be the Kindle 4 that makes the impact, or even the Kindle tablet thing, but Japan will embrace e-readers, and my prediction is it’ll be sooner rather than later. Once Amazon gets itself into gear and properly focuses on the Japanese market I think a lot of foreigners living there will embrace it also–the problem I hear time and again from people leaving Japan is “I have to leave all my books behind!”. Not a problem if they’re digital.

  2. Gemma

    July 12, 2011 at 17:57

    that’s such good news 😀


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