EPUB3 wishlist for poets and poetry

While the EPUB3 group is still open to suggestions, it is pertinent to point out that poetry is homeless in ebook readers due to reader choices and auto-reflowing of text.



Possible content in EPUB3 Wishlist:
Speaking as a poet there are two totally overlooked content issues, of which one is VITAL for a whole genre/industri:

1. Poetry.

The following image stems from my blog (most, but not all, in Danish http://krabat.menneske.dk/kkblog/2010/11/02/poetry-and-reflowing-text/);  In this and in a previous entry I exemplify the consequences of reflowing text on poetry – EPUB and PDF.


In the image you will see a visual overview of what a page of poetry could easily contain. Contrary to many people’s opinion poetry is not broken prose – it is very often a graphic totality, which would benefit infinitely more from a graphic perspective than from the present ebook format horisontal line perspective on how text is perceived. And now, since even pdf is going towards auto-reflowing on many ereading devices, poetry no longer has a home in digital litterature – at least not on ereader devices.

Not to repeat myself, but to stress the importance of this – and also directed at people who do not read poetry, but might find the task interesting from a technical perspective:

Poetry on ereader devices need to be able to retain their design as a fixed format, all the way from conception to ereader device. Imagine a painter, who got his images broken up or colors changed to more aestetically pleasing on an ereader device for reasons of screen size or reader’s eyesight or aestetical preference!

A poet often works with breath (pauses) imbedded in the text as a form of score for the reader to decode – the breath of the poem is then what MAKES the poem. Without, it is just a mangled text, which is neither poem nor prose.

An easy way out would be to publish poetry in a graphic format like the Comic Book Archive file, CBZ, which is just jpg’s in a compressed Zip, and displayable in dedicated programs and apps. But this would place poetry OUTSIDE of mainstream litterature – literally sidetrack a whole litterary genre AND demand of ebook device producers that they specifically cater to poetry! I don’t see that happening. Do you?

So, can EPUB3/HTML5 be used to code poetry AND KEEP the text fixed and UN-reflowable by design and intent all the way from production to ebook devices?

2. Bi-lingual text.

Poetry is not the only area, where text in two languages is presented simultaneously on facing pages – this is also quite normal in language education. For this to be possible on an ebook reader device there would have to be a choice possible:

a. see both pages in landscape mode
b. portrait mode defaults to either right or left page, depending on which language one wants. Call it “rehearsal mode”: both languages are seen in landscape mode, flip device: the language being learned in portrait mode, flip device: check double pages in landscape mode to see if the learned language is being understood correctly, flip device: go on reading in the language being learned.

I thank you for your efforts,

Kenneth Krabat
former chairman of the poets at The Danish Author’s Union
formerly on the board of directors

Forfatter: krabat

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