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Read Aloud Fixed Layout eBooks for Languages other than English


The client, an eBook conversion service provider in Europe required seven titles focused on children’s literature in Dutch language to be converted to Fixed Layout ePub Format with ‘Read Aloud’ Feature.


Primarily, a read-aloud fixed layout eBook has two parts: (a) fixed layout format, and (b) audio syncing with text. Creating read-aloud fixed layout ePub books necessitates meticulous attention and special understanding of ePub in general and Fixed Layout books in particular, has an accompanying audio track that plays while the text is parallelly highlighted. However, the real challenge arose from the fact that the titles that we needed to convert into read-aloud format were in Dutch language.

Being an English understanding team, it was a real task for us to listen and understand Dutch language. Attuning ourselves to an entirely new pronunciation, we paid careful attention while listening to the audio tracks – at times even twice or thrice – to ensure that the marking of co-ordinates of every word in the audio file was correct.


Creating a Narration

One of the most important features of the read aloud format is the ability to highlight words as they are read. In order to synchronize each word with the audio, we need to tag each and every word in the audio with the corresponding word in the HTML file.

Marking Words in the Audio File

Marking words in the audio file is another critical step in converting a Book into a read-aloud fixed layout format. We cautiously exported the labels indicating the starting and ending time of each word. Just to ensure that the converted book played smoothly, we tested it thoroughly.


All the seven children book titles in Dutch language were successfully converted into “read aloud” fixed layout ePub format


Screenshots used in this Case Study is the work we did to develop the eBook and the complete title is available at iTunes to download:

Additional information

The beauty of an eBook is the reflowability of data adjusting with the screen size of the device. But these eBooks have the limitations in terms of text accompanying illustrations or with complex styling. Few examples of the books which are difficult to be fashioned in standard eBook format are travel guides, children books, cook books and digital comic books, etc.

For heavily illustrated eBooks – Apple, Amazon and B&N came out with Fixed Layout eBooks. Apple has extended its support to Fixed Layout eBooks with synchronization of audio narration and soundtracks to be included within their Fixed Layout format. With this feature we can develop eBook versions of illustrated and picture books featuring a “Read aloud” option. These types of eBooks give readers the ability to listen to a narration of the book along with the words highlighted. Background soundtrack effects can also be embedded while the book is being read.

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