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Old 06-16-2015, 02:51 AM   #1
AlexBell
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Vertical text?

I've been asked to design an ebook of rather avant garde poetry. I can just about cope with the long lines and indented lines, but one of the poems in the paperback has the text set at 90 degrees to the other poems. That is, the poem starts at the bottom edge of the page and runs to the top edge, and one would have to rotate the paperback 90 degrees to be able to read the poem.

I haven't the slightest idea how to format this poem, or even whether it can be done. Any ideas or suggestions? It would be particularly helpful if I could be pointed to an ePub ebook which does this so I could take it apart to see how it's done.
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Old 06-16-2015, 03:16 AM   #2
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You could use SVG to rotate the content. The rendering of the text inside the SVG (if it works) will probably be different from the text outside, though. It will be funny to see what happens when when the poem doesn't fit in one screen...
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Old 06-16-2015, 04:45 AM   #3
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Can't you just add a note at the top of the page saying "Turn your reader on its side to read this page"? .

I agree with Jellby that a graphic (and an SVG would certainly work best) is probably the only way to do this with current devices.
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Old 06-16-2015, 04:49 AM   #4
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I was looking also for such a solution, here, unfortunately the solution works only on a few devices, mostly in software (not in the hardware eReaders I have, mainly Sony), so it's not an universal one.
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Old 06-16-2015, 04:59 AM   #5
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You could also use CSS3 transforms, at least renderers not supporting it would simply show the normal text. The problem is, I think, that the "bounding box" is not rotated with the text.
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Old 06-16-2015, 05:00 AM   #6
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Thanks to you all. The poem has several verses, and on a 6" reader would occupy several 'pages'. The poems before and after have normal text.

I may have to venture out into the world of SVG - of which I've remained blissfully ignorant so far. Alternatively I could encourage the publisher to prepare jpgs of the verses and string them together.

Last edited by AlexBell; 06-16-2015 at 05:34 AM.
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Old 06-16-2015, 06:00 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jellby View Post
You could use SVG to rotate the content. The rendering of the text inside the SVG (if it works) will probably be different from the text outside, though. It will be funny to see what happens when when the poem doesn't fit in one screen...
It will also be funny to see what happens when the reader turns the gadget sideways, and it flips, tee hee.

I had this problem on my Fire HD tablet with a book about the German invasion of Russia. The most important map was sideways, and I had to study it lying on my side with the tablet held vertically, not knowing at the time that the gadget could be locked. I suspect that most owners of e-readers don't know about these options.
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Old 06-16-2015, 06:15 AM   #8
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It will also be funny to see what happens when the reader turns the gadget sideways, and it flips, tee hee.

I had this problem on my Fire HD tablet with a book about the German invasion of Russia. The most important map was sideways, and I had to study it lying on my side with the tablet held vertically, not knowing at the time that the gadget could be locked. I suspect that most owners of e-readers don't know about these options.
I don't know of any eInk device with an orientation sensor, so probably not an issue for dedicated reading devices (although I'm certain that far more people read on tablets than eInk readers).
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Old 06-16-2015, 06:51 AM   #9
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I may have to venture out into the world of SVG - of which I've remained blissfully ignorant so far.
Actually, you only need a couple of SVG commands to rotate text, however, you'd need to hard-code the position of each line.
On the plus side the embedded SVG file will work with ADE 1.7 (or higher), iBooks and Kindle KF8.
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Old 06-16-2015, 08:13 AM   #10
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I don't know of any eInk device with an orientation sensor, so probably not an issue for dedicated reading devices (although I'm certain that far more people read on tablets than eInk readers).
The Cybook Orizon has such a sensor (which can be disabled). I was quite disappointed to find out the Kobo Aura doesn't (and it doesn't even support manual rotation), I'd like to read my comic strips (ePub format) in landscape.

The possibility of automatic rotation was the reason I decided to leave all illustrations in their natural orientation in my books.
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Old 06-16-2015, 11:08 AM   #11
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Quick question Alex, Does the orientation contribute to the poem itself? I've written poems that do, but they were usually short enough that the orientation of the parts contrasted with other parts and added meaning. You said it had several versus and would extend to several pages...seems like a change of orientation over several pages would just be annoying to the user. If that is the case, it may be one of those occasions where a heart-to-heart with the author may be in order.

Cheers,

edit: 'annoying' meaning making the user jump through hoops to lock the orientation of their device so they could turn the device the correct way and read the poem from top to bottom - as they would have done if the poem was oriented normally in the first place...

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Old 06-16-2015, 11:09 AM   #12
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The Kindles can be manually put in landscape view.
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Old 06-16-2015, 12:44 PM   #13
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Quick question Alex, Does the orientation contribute to the poem itself?
Good point. Could it be that the poem is typeset sideways simply to allow longer lines without unwanted breaks? In that case, any attempt to translate this into ebook seems futile.

Quote:
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The Kindles can be manually put in landscape view.
It might be enough to add a note: "please set your reader in landscape" to the poem, in order to get the same effect as in the paper

Last edited by Jellby; 06-16-2015 at 12:46 PM.
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Old 06-17-2015, 04:34 AM   #14
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Thanks for all your suggestions and interest. I'm embarrassed to have to report that the text is not vertical after all. The author has distributed the several verses of this poem across adjoining left and right pages in the paperback. The publisher supplied a doc file as the source text, and put the conjoined two pages in the in the doc file in such a way that when I read those two pages the text appeared to be in vertical orientation.

The text of both pages has to be seen together to make any sense of the poem - I mentioned it was avant garde. So my current question is: how on earth can I format the poem so as to display both 'pages' when only one page is available at a time on 6" ebook readers? Turning the ereader to landscape mode won't work in this poem at a readable size font because there is just too much text.

I now have a pdf of the poem, but the author is away at the moment so I can't ask her permission to upload it. I'll ask for permission when she gets back next week, and if she grants it I'll upload the pdf. I also need to ask just how much importance she places on the visual appearance of her work. I suspect it's really important to her.
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Old 06-17-2015, 05:24 AM   #15
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Early days, I worked in what was then called an Educational Television station. When a cameraman or director goofed, someone was sure to say: "Don't worry -- nobody's watching anyhow!"

I suspect much the same is true of poetry in e-books. Check out the sales ranking of Donald Hall, once America's poet laureate. Or even Seamus Heaney, our very own Dylan Thomas: #386,822 Paid in Kindle Store for his top-ranked poetry book (even I out-sell Seamus Heaney!).
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