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Old 01-22-2022, 12:25 PM   #1
sjml
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Hebrew niqqud not rendering right with embedded font

I'm trying to create a book that contains some Hebrew, and running into problems with embedding a font that renders properly. In the ePUB version, I'm embedding David Libre, which works fine. But, when I load it on the Kindle (converted with Calibre), the niqqud (Hebrew diacritics) don't get placed properly around the letters.

In the first image below, you can see that "Publisher Font" is selected, indicating it's using the embedded font file in the converted azw3 file. (To debug this problem, I've stripped out all CSS except for the rule that sets the font and aligns it to the right.) The niqqud are all shifted off of their letters, like the combiner is not working.

In the second image, I've changed the font to the copy that I added to the Kindle's font directory (so it shows up in the available font list) -- it's the exact same file as the embedded one, but now the niqqud display properly. (The same thing happens with any built-in font, or at least whatever they're using for the Hebrew fallback, since the characters look the same whether the rest of the body is in Futura/Bookerly/etc.)

I tried a number of other Hebrew fonts to make sure it wasn't an issue with David Libre, but they all exhibit the same phenomenon -- it functions fine when set to be the font for the whole book, but the embedded version is broken.

Is there some additional CSS that the Kindle applies when it overrides a book's font? Is there some other way I need to encode this text to make sure it can render properly? Or is using an embedded font for Hebrew just a lost cause?
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Old 01-23-2022, 08:24 AM   #2
Doitsu
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I was able to reproduce this issue. This is most likely a limitation of the AZW3 format.
IIRC, Amazon never officially supported RTL AZW3 books.


In the .kfx version, the two embedded RTL fonts (Noto Sans and David Libre) were rendered, regardless of the Publisher Font setting.
BTW, since all eInk Kindles that support RTL books also come with Hebrew fonts, you won't have to embed a Hebrew font.
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File Type: epub RTL_test.epub (104.1 KB, 62 views)
File Type: zip RTL_test.zip (115.3 KB, 64 views)
File Type: azw3 RTL_test.azw3 (111.4 KB, 79 views)

Last edited by Doitsu; 01-23-2022 at 09:56 AM.
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Old 01-24-2022, 03:44 AM   #3
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Thanks for the reproduction! Good to know it wasn't just me. (Also I only just realized I could screenshot my Kindle thanks to your post, so double-thanks.)

I know I could get away without embedding a font... I'm just being fussy about typesetting, I guess. I wonder what percentage of readers override the publisher font anyway. Wondering if it's worth trying to distribute KFX files or just stick with my current solution (of a Kindle-specific version that hides the niqqud).
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Old 01-24-2022, 10:44 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sjml View Post
Thanks for the reproduction! Good to know it wasn't just me. (Also I only just realized I could screenshot my Kindle thanks to your post, so double-thanks.)

I know I could get away without embedding a font... I'm just being fussy about typesetting, I guess. I wonder what percentage of readers override the publisher font anyway.

MANY. I can't tell you how many people I've met who don't even know that their Kindle PPW, Voyage, Oasis, etc. just defaults to some other font and Publisher Font has to be actively chosen by the reader. It won't open, by default, in PF, even if you've broken Amazon's rules and told the "body" element to be David Libre or what-have-you.


Quote:
Wondering if it's worth trying to distribute KFX files or just stick with my current solution (of a Kindle-specific version that hides the niqqud).

Excellent question. Does the extant, Kindle-provided Hebrew font work worth a damn for you, when you don't embed one?

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Old 01-24-2022, 10:54 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doitsu View Post
BTW, since all eInk Kindles that support RTL books also come with Hebrew fonts, you won't have to embed a Hebrew font.
Could you elaborate on that please?

Do you mean that the standard set of fonts (Amazon Ember, Bookerly, etc.) have glyphs for Hebrew, that there are specific fonts for Hebrew, or are you referring to the fallback font (Code2000 I believe)?
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Old 01-24-2022, 12:40 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by jhowell View Post
Do you mean that the standard set of fonts (Amazon Ember, Bookerly, etc.) have glyphs for Hebrew, that there are specific fonts for Hebrew, or are you referring to the fallback font (Code2000 I believe)?
I was referring to the Code 2000 fallback font. AFAIK, starting with the Kindle Keyboard, Amazon bundled Code 2000, which includes Hebrew glyphs with diacritics.
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Old 01-24-2022, 01:30 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doitsu View Post
I was referring to the Code 2000 fallback font. AFAIK, starting with the Kindle Keyboard, Amazon bundled Code 2000, which includes Hebrew glyphs with diacritics.
That makes sense. I was wondering if I had missed something.
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Old 01-24-2022, 02:03 PM   #8
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Excellent question. Does the extant, Kindle-provided Hebrew font work worth a damn for you, when you don't embed one?
Oh, it's fine. There's only just the one of course, and it doesn't always match with the other publisher fonts, but it's perfectly serviceable. I'm just always someone who will be picky about font selection, if it's at all available to me. But at the end of the day, the content (and the reader's ease at reading it) is the most important element.

I also don't know Hebrew well enough to feel like my opinion is truly informed; mostly going by aesthetics here. (Arabic characters I have much stronger feelings about, but thankfully this particular text I'm preparing can get away without them. )
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