finally: vertical text and aozora on the kindle!

Trying to figure out how to a) display vertical Japanese text on almost anything, and b) get Aozora texts on my Kindle in a way that makes for pleasant reading, has been driving me mad for some short time now.

One reason I bought a Kindle, in fact, was to have a convenient way to read books in Japanese. My options are either to order paperbacks from Japan at exorbitant shipping costs, or (especially if the books aren’t available in paperback anyway) carry around thick photocopies or bad PDF scans of works from large reference anthologies. Neither of these is a pleasant way to read a book. I love my 文庫本 just as much as the next person, but I think they’re the major factor in my continually worsening eyesight. If I keep reading them, I’m sure I’ll be blind within 5 years or so at this rate.

I was going to write a whole post here about how I wish I could get vertical text going (because this is much more comfortable for me to read), and how I was trying to devise some system for automatically converting books to Kindle-sized PDFs or even .mobi format.

Well, someone has – thank god – beaten me to it! I give you the simplest, free, web-based system for converting any Aozora book to Kindle-sized PDF, by pasting a link from Aozora into a box and downloading the PDF. It preserves ruby (furigana) and lets you choose a text size. (I recommend 大 because even 中 was giving me eye strain. Trust me, you don’t need the 文庫本 aesthetic on a Kindle screen.)

And with no further delay, here is the post from the friendly blogger at JapanNewbie who explains it all:

How I Use My Kindle

Please give him a big thanks when you visit!

Here’s a direct link to the PDF conversion site too:

2 thoughts on “finally: vertical text and aozora on the kindle!”

  1. I agree that we should give the a2k website all sorts of props. But what the hell is up with Amazon Kindle Fire’s document reader being incapable of jumping to a specific page.

  2. You tell me! I don’t have the Kindle Fire so I can’t comment on it. The Kindle’s way of jumping to places in the text doesn’t feel that helpful to me, but it’s all I’ve got, huh. I still do wonder how I could ever cite something I had on the Kindle, especially given the ability to change font size.

    Actually, I was wondering aloud the other week if I can cite something from Aozora in, for example, an academic paper, or if I have to read it in Aozora, then go find the book that it was digitized from, and cite the page number from that physical book. It’s less a question of “can I possibly do it” (yes) and more “is it okay” (not sure). Of course, my answer as an instructor would be “it’s fine,” but I don’t know that that answer would be so common throughout academia at this point in time.

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