Monday, 29 July 2013

Making e-Books with Wikipedia

One of the many interesting things that I learnt at the recent iPad training course was not actually iPad-specific: generating e-Books with Wikipedia for offline reading.

Hidden away in plain site on every page is the Print/export section. One option is to simply Download as PDF but a far more interesting and useful possibility exists: Create a book.

Clicking the Create a book link will open up the Wikipedia Book creator, with the option to start a book with the current page or create an empty book.

Once you Start book creator, you then get an Add this page to your book button on each page you visit.

Alternatively, you can right-click and Add linked wiki page to your book to add pages without visiting them. (This is great for those people - everyone? - who gets easily side-tracked by links within Wikipedia pages.)

If you have got yourself a bit side-tracked by adding pages, or just need some inspiration, you can also get Wikipedia to Suggest pages:

Once you have finished adding pages - or want to remind yourself what pages you have added - you can click on Show book and Manage your book. This allows you to rearrange (or delete) your pages and download your book when ready. There are a few options but the best is probably e-book (EPub) format for iBooks.

After selecting a format, click Download and Wikipedia will render the book. Once ready, you can download the file. If doing this on a iPad, you can Open in iBooks, otherwise save it to Dropbox or something and open it in iBooks that way. You then handily have all of the Creative Commons content to read off-line, complete with a nice linked table of contents.

The nice thing about this format is that text will adjust as it is resized etc. Any links between Wikipedia pages that are in your e-book will be included and enable internal navigation. Likewise, any external URL links are kept. Links to Wikipedia pages that are not in the book are not included (i.e. there will not be lots of links out to Wikipedia webpages).

Because any copyright-protected content is not included, the e-book should be OK to distribute - but you will probably want to double-check that before doing it!

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