Thursday, September 29, 2011

Create eBooks...on an iPad...for Free!

I do not teach in a 1:1 iPad classroom, and my school doesn't have a cart of iPads. And while there is still some discussion and argument as to whether an iPad is a computer or a "computing device", my perspective is increasingly leaning towards the idea that an iPad is a legitimate substitute for a computer in the hands of students in a classroom.  My latest find only confirms this point.

At EdCampCT this summer, Meg Wilson (@ipodsibilities) mentioned a website during her iPad / eBooks session that allows any site to be instantly converted into an ePub file, that can then be easily read on an eReader / iPad.  The site,  The concept is straight forward, add the Dotepub bookmarklet or extension to your browser and any site that you visit can be turned into an ePub file.  That file can then be dragged into iTunes and when synced with an iPad, the website has be easily turned into an ePub file that can be read offline at a future date.  Here are a few screenshots to explain the process

 Step 1: I went to the New York Times website to find an article...

 Step 2: I like to click on the printable version of the article as to make a smoother transition when converting to an epub file...Then click on the Dotepub extension in your browser to convert the page.

Step 3: Once it is converted, I drag the ePub file to iTunes...

Step 4: Once the document is dragged to iTunes, sync your iPad and the article can now be read offline within iBooks on your iPad.

Yes, this is impressive, relatively easy and could end up being quite helpful in a classroom.  You could easily take this ePub file and email it to your students and when they open the email on their iPad it will automatically give them the option to open the ePub attachment in their iBooks app.  Here are a few screenshots of that process.

Here is the hypothetical email that you can send to students with iPads.  I sent the email with the ePub file as an attachment...

When the attachment is opened on the iPad, the student will be given the option to open the attachment in iBooks.  

While the above strategy is extremely helpful, it isn't the actual purpose of this post.  Instead of going through the process of creating the ePub document and emailing every student who needs the document in their iPad, they have the ability to visit any site that you point them to for class and they can create the very same ePub file on their iPad and it will be imported directly into iBooks.  The process outlined below has to be done on each iPad in order for that device to have the ability to convert any site into an ePub file.
Here we go...

Set 1: Visit on an iPad.

Step 2: Add the page as a bookmark in your browser.

Step 3: "Select All" and "Copy" the text in the middle of the page.  It is located in the grey box.

Step 4: Edit the bookmark that you just created for the dotEpub site.

Step 5: Delete the URL for the dotEpub site in your bookmarks

Step 6: Paste the text that you copied in step 3 into the "Address" field of the dotEpub bookmark.  Note that this process only has to be done once.  Now that the bookmark is adjusted it is time to make ePub files out of website directly on your iPad.

You are now ready to create ePub files directly on your iPad!

Now you can visit any site you like, or direct your students to visit a particular site.  This can be done by providing a hyper link from a class blog.

Again, I like to first choose a printable version of the site if it is possible...this is not necessary.

Then, click on your bookmarks in the browser and tap on the dotEpub bookmark.  This will automatically convert the site into an ePub file.

Once the page is converted, the you can choose where you would like to open the ePub file.

Depending on which apps you have on the iPad, you will have a number of choices.  Select iBooks to open the document in your iBooks app.

The ePub file will then automatically appear in the bookshelf of your iBooks app.  The article that I converted is in the top left hand corner.  But why go through the process?  Continue reading and I will explain...

The iBooks app offers a number of built in resources that students can take advantage of while reading. Below are a few screenshots from an iPad demonstrating these possibilities.

To access these resources, simply click and hold on any word.  A menu will then appear that allows the reader to Copy, access a dictionary, Highlight, Note and Search.

The built in Dictionary option...

The Highlighting option...

The Note option (write a short sticky note within the text)

The Search option (allows a reader to search the entire document for one word)

Thank you for reading this far down in the post...I try to keep them much shorter, but I figured the screenshots were needed in this case.  Like I said at the outset of the post, I don't have a class full of iPads and probably won't any time soon.  But I know a number of schools are 1:1 iPad, are going 1:1 or are currently piloting a program.  Once the Bookmark is created and adjusted, it is a seamless and quick process to go from website to offline, readable and personally editable eBook.  Enjoy & let me know how the process has helped you out in your iPad classroom.

Back to reading on my iPad...


  1. Seriously cool stuff! Thank you for sharing and creating easy to follow directions! I am going to use this a lot with my students!

  2. I have a dumb question. What is the purpose of this application? Why can't you just email (or post on your class blog) the link to the website that you want them to read? Is the reason that, by reading it in iBooks, that they can highlight & write sticky notes?
    (We do have an iPad cart in our classroom.)

  3. Thanks for the comment & question. That is exactly the idea. When students can convert a web page into an ePub file directly on their iPad they can take notations directly on their device and in the document. The document stays in their device as long as they want it there. The flexibility to keep all of their documents and notations in one device that can easily be referred to in the future is the reason why the application may have some benefit and I decided to write the post.


  4. Quite interesting yet informative post! I really appreciate the way you have suggestion the process of conversion. I guess this is the best and great method advised by you. As we are aware that r ePub to iPad conversion is becoming really the need of the present time.