Creating ebooks

11244554575_66047f6e93_bFunny how plans for a day change. The day started sunny and bright so I thought it would be good to get out and tame the weeds that are burgeoning after some wet and warn weather. Dropped number 2 son off at hockey, walked round the lake, had a coffee, picked him up, came home all ready for the garden……and the heavens opened!
Opened up tablet (to avoid the dishes, and the hoovering and any other household jobs that need doing but are simply not appealing) and started playing with the photos I had taken this morning, thinking I would create a visual representation of my walk. I ended up clicking on Creative Book Builder to see if that would be useful and found a book that I had started making a few months back. That was it, the sun is now out and I could go go back in the garden but that hiatus in the day led me down a completely different path and a journey of discovery fraught with frustration. Thanks to @Allanahk who gave me some advice after I tweeted for help, @1MvdS for moral support and @easegill who is always on hand to help, I have a reasonably successful outcome.

So, I decided to finish my book – a Spanish reader for my beginner students with simple sentences and some explanation of the present tense and how to use adjectives.   That was the easy part.  Creative Book Builder is quite a straightforward, free app for both Apple and Android.  Easy to use, you can add images, text, weblinks,  and it seems that the latest version also allows you to record your voice.   Maybe that will have to be an experiment for next weekend!  Sounds promising though, especially for language teaching.

Having created my book, I opened it up in ebook which is the app I have on my Android tablet that Creative Book Builder uses to publish to.  For some reason, when I go to share or publish it doesn’t allow me to use my Kindle App.  That will have to be another investigation.   The ebook reader has quite a nice interface; the pages virtually turn in a stylised sort of way which is quite appealing and the font and layout is clear.  The images are also clear although I realise that I need to prepare photos before hand so that they are of similar size.  If they are too large the text scrolls over to the next page and no longer  matches the picture.

So far, so good.  Now I wanted to be able to share the book with my students.  We use Google Drive and so I was pleased to see that I could publish and share to Drive directly from CBB.

That was when I tweeted the link to share my book and find out if others could read it.  Alas, it was not to be so simple!

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The file that downloaded from Drive didn’t seem to have a file extension and couldn’t be opened.

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Nigel and I then turned to Google for answers; I tried Magicscroll first, it looked promising but still couldn’t read the file Drive downloaded.  We tried adding the epub extension, that didn’t work.  Allanah suggested sharing to Dropbox,  I had already shared to Evernote but hadn’t tried downloading the file from there yet.  Nigel and Allanah both suggested Calibre which is  “a free and open source e-book library management application”.

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Meanwhile, I was doing some googling of my own and found the CBB blog which suggests using Readium which is a Chrome extension that can read epub files.   Easy to install and opens the files from Drive and Evernote and Dropbox easily.  The formatting needs some tweaking, setting the options to double page renders the pages better although the images and text are still a little out.

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In the course of my investigations I tried downloading another epub file which required me spending the princely sum of $3 to pay for a Lee Child short story.  I wanted to test out Readium and Calibre which I had also downloaded.  Unfortunately, to download the book I had paid for, I had to install Adobe Digital Editions!  Fortunately, it is free and it now means I have another programme capable of reading epub files on my PC!   The Spanish Reader opens up well in there as well.  Similar glitches in terms of format rendering as in Readium but I think that is more down to the way that I have created the book than the readers themselves.   I just need more practice!

Anyway here is the link to my ebook. It is in Google Drive so you will have to download it and use an ereader to read it. I welcome any comments regarding what ereader you use and how useful any of them are. Please excuse the grammatical mistakes – I have already spotted two since publishing!

Now I just need to work out how I can share it on a webpage so that I can add it to our class Google Site, and also see if I can get Readium added on to the school Chrome Browsers as a standard extension!

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