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Kerning is one of several attributes which is ignored when the text is exported to an EPUB file.
when you export to epub from inDesign, the text has many other features that are lost.
But you can edit them with Sigil, opening the template.css and edit the style applied in this characters. What style? Open the archive that contain the character that you want and see it on the line.
PS: It's necessary that you know something about HTML to edit.
There are three issues here: first, what text attributes does InDesign export and what not (apparently, "kerning" is a "no") and what can be used in an e-pub. Kerning? I don't know -- in CSS you have "letterspacing" and "wordspacing" attributes, so theoretically you could use these instead. But CSS support among the various software and devices varies enourmously, so it could be you are doing all this for just one or two devices with "just the right support".
Thanks for the great answers. However, I did try exploding the code yesterday and I altered the letter-spacing in the css file as per your examples with no results. Today I tried the word-spacing attribute as well... no dice. I am thinking the kerning is indeed un-exportable unless someone says otherwise. Perhaps making the entire first word into a graphic and dropping it in-line?