Kindle ebooks with embedded Tibetan font

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A converted ebook from Lotsawahouse.org displayed on Kindle Voyage

Introduction

Since 2016, even the 70 EUR entry model Kindle 8 is able to correctly display Tibetan script, once configured correctly.

Kindles can support display of Tibetan within Kindle's UI and correctly formatted Tibetan script in ebooks. Two conditions must be fulfilled:

  • A Tibetan font needs to be installed on the device. (This font will only be available after a device reboot, s.b.)
  • A Tibetan font needs to be embedded into every Tibetan ebook.

Installation of a Tibetan font on kindle devices

Mixed English and Tibetan script in Kindle's book overview

Copy the font files to the kindle

  • Make sure that you have the latest firmware for your Kindle: On Kindle's home screen, select the menu button KindleMenuButton.png, "Settings". Then, again select the menu KindleMenuButton.png, and "Device Info". The firmware version should be at least 5.6.x.[1]
  • Download the preconfigured font files: Tibetan fonts for the Kindle. Source: DDC_Uchen.ttf by Chris Fynn.[2]
  • Unpack the zip file
  • Connect the Kindle to your computer and copy the content of the folder Kindle-Tibetan-Fonts to your Kindle.
  • Your Kindle then should show a new folder "fonts" (it contains four Tibetan fonts) and a new file USE_ALT_FONTS.
    two new objects in kindle's file system after font-file installation

Restart the kindle

The new fonts wont be recognized until the kindle is rebooted:

  • Now your kindle needs to be restarted: disconnect the kindle from your computer, go to the home screen, select the menu button KindleMenuButton.png, "Settings". Then, again select the menu KindleMenuButton.png, and "Restart".

The kindle will reboot, and afterwards ebooks that contain Tibetan script and an embedded Tibetan font can be read on the kindle.

How to embed a Tibetan font into an ebook

  • The kindle format needs to be AZW3. mobi does not support correct rendering of Tibetan script.
  • A Tibetan font needs to be embedded into the AZW3 ebook file.

Step by step conversion

1. Convert your ebook file to epub

  • You can add a Tibetan font easily yourself to an existing ebook, using the powerful ebook managment tool Calibre. Calibre is open source and available for Linux, Mac and Windows.
  • Simply drag your existing ebook file into calibre.
  • If it is not already in epub format, convert it using calibre's "Convert books" option.

2. Embedding of a Tibetan font

Calibre supports automatic font embededing

Select the epub formatted ebook in calibre, and (again) use option "Convert books", "Look & Feel", "Embed font family" to add a Tibetan font (recommended is "DDC Uchen"). Save the ebook. Calibre has now update the style sheet and included the the font file into the ebook document.

See the the-ebook-reader blog for more information on handling ebook fonts.[3]

3. Convert to AZW3

The epub ebook now needs to be convert to AZW3. Again make use of "Convert books" to convert the epub to AZW3. Make sure that you do not accidentally use an unsuitable format like mobi as conversion source.

4. Install the ebook on the kindle

Now use calibre to send the new AZW3 ebook that contains the correct fonts to the kindle device. Consider to remove mobi versions.

Troubleshooting

  • Make sure you installed a Tibetan font on the kindle.
  • Make sure you rebooted the kindle (it's not enough to switch it on and off, use the "settings" menu to actually reboot the kindle).
  • Make sure you've embedded a suitable Tibetan font into the ebook.

Tibetan titles are not displayed correctly in kindle's book lists

If you see square boxes with numbers instead of Tibetan script of book titles in the book overview:

  • You either did not follow the steps for "copying font files to the kindle"
  • You did not correctly restart the kindle using kindle's "setting / reboot" option
  • Your kindle firmware is just too old, or your device is too old to be supported.

The kindle ebook displays some approximation of Tibetan script but stacks are smashed

  • You are probably using mobi format instead of AZW3.

Kindle stops displaying Tibetan

Kindle version 5.6.x (Paperwhite Gen 1) doesn't seem to display Tibetan reliably over time. If Tibetan support suddenly fails, or behaves erratically, restart your kindle:

  • Go to Settings / "Restart".
  • In case the menu stops responding, press the hardware off switch for several seconds. You should see a dialog with restart option.
  • If everything else fails, try a cold reset: press the power off button for at least 30 secs.

Ebooks on the Web and the Kindle

  • In order to install ebooks on the Kindle, they must be converted into the proprietary AZW3 format. The easiest way to convert and install those books is to use Calibre. Note that the Amazon mobi format does not support Tibetan script.
  • Ebooks from Lotsawahouse.org: For the time being, download of epub format is recommended, in order to display Tibetan correctly on the Kindle, since mobi format does not support correct rendering of Tibetan syllables. See above for the required AZW3 conversion.

Internal Links

External Links

Supported Kindle models and firmware versions

Kindle device Firmware Tibetan support
Kindle 5, Kindle touch, all models from 2011 or older older than 5.6 no
Kindle 8 (2016) 5.8.1 yes
Kindle Paperwhite Gen 1 >= 5.6.1 partial[4]
Kindle Voyage, Oasis >= 5.8.1 yes

Wikipedia gives an overview on the latest software version available for each kindle model.

References

  1. This software version seems to be model depend, see below for more information on supported models: older Kindle devices might not support display of Tibetan script.
  2. DDC Uchen, a font designed by Chris Fynn for the Dzongkha Development Commission, can be downloaded from: http://www.dzongkha.gov.bt/IT/download/fonts/DDC_Uchen.ttf
  3. How to Use Custom Fonts with Kindles – Embed Fonts in Kindle eBooks
  4. Version 5.6.x sometimes fails to render Tibetan script, see Kindle ebooks with embedded Tibetan font#Troubleshooting.