eBooks 3/22/12

Tablet devices are quickly turning into 'productive' devices rather than 'consumptive' devices. Making books with tablet devices is one way students can produce work for class. I've written about Storykit', by the International Children's Digital Library, and more recently Toontastic, by Launchpad Toys. This article covers several apps, and will be posted for an extended time. If you are an Adroid user, look down toward the bottom of this article for an eBook app for Adroids.

When thinking eBooks you can categorize them into two types. The first type is a static ebook that is commonly a digital representation of a real book. An example would be “Winnie the Poo”. The book is read with an app like iBooks and can be read on various eReaders. The second type is a media/interactive ebook  that has interactive parts, animations and audio. An example of a media book is “Toy Story”. The book itself is a stand-alone app and is tablet specific.

Static ebooks can be created on another computer and transferred to a tablet device. Currently I use Calibre (pronounced Cal-i-ber) to create ePub files. This free program is for your MAC or PC and allows one to convert PDF files into ePub files. I have PDF's with a lot of images, and by default Calibre pushes all the images to the beginning of the ePub file. So I've got to learn more advanced skills to rearrange my images. It's free and transferring ePubs is easy through connecting my device or e-mailing the attached ePub. The great thing is that ePub is the international eBook file that is accepted by all tablet devices. If you want to know more about Calibre check it out for yourself: http://calibre-ebook.com/

Recently I listened to a presentation by Jeremy Brueck "Create Your Own eBooks iBooks and ePubs. Jeremy spoke of several apps that can create ebooks on the iPad. A few from his list cost money: Book Creator ($4.99), eBook Creator ($3.99) and Creative Book Builder ($3.99). Here are a few notes I gathered from Jeremy.

Book Creator: The book will be exported to iBooks, so when you connect your device to iTunes you can transfer the ePub file to another device or post the ePub for sharing. Pages can include images, but can be text only as well.

eBook Creator: This is good for Codex books –where most of the page is a picture and there is little text. The drawback is that the book is created in a format that is only readable in the app. There is an option to post the book online and get a link to share with others who can go see your book.

Creative Book Builder: With this app you need to have the media gathered ahead of time. You can upload photos and videos to your photo roll or bring files in from Google Docs. Having a plan on how you want to organize in advance will help when making textbooks. You can create separate chapters and export as an ePub file.

If you’re ‘cash strapped’ like me, there are free eBook apps out there as well. Image to text and Scribble Press are two examples.

Image to Text-OCR: This app is like a scanner. You take a photo of the page and e-mail it to yourself or upload it to Evernote. What you do with the text is up to you. You can access your photo roll, so images you captured with the ‘screen-shot’ feature can be scanned for iPad 1 users. So, it’s not a book yet, but you’ve got an easy way to get text from the printed page to the electronic page. http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/image-to-text-ocr/id431757093?mt=8

Scribble Press: Apple’s Staff Favorite, top 20 Ed. App for iPad and winner of several other awards, Scribble press provides great drawing tools for students to create their own eBook. 50 story templates are provided to help those who need help starting a story and now you can order a printed copy of your book. If you’ve created just a single drawing or photo you can order a puzzle, notebook or greeting card from your creation.  http://www.scribblepress.com/ipad2

If you are an Adroid or MAC user, ePublisher:Photo and iBooks Author are additional options.

 ePublisher:Photo is the Android solution to create eBooks. Take your photos and add fun filters & page backgrounds to build an eBook.  This is a great ‘picture book’ creator. You have 10 different cover styles to choose from, can filter your photos for special effects. Add descriptions, captions and text just by speaking.  This app normally costs $4.99 and is on ½ off until Monday March 26th. Go to Google Play website to find out more: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.epublisher

 MAC users can author eBooks with iBooks Author. Create multi-touch books with embedded multi media  for your iOS devices. IBooks Author is free from the MAC App store –note: the MAC App store is different than the Apps Store. Visit this link to find out more about iBooks Author. http://www.apple.com/ibooks-author/

The hard part is having an authentic reason to write and publish. One idea, from Jeremy’s presentation, is to create a “Class Book” –it’s a spin on a book that students already read in class where they use familiar characters and re-write a story as a group. Young Authors is another 'authentic' idea for using an eBook app. Enjoy the ebook apps and look for the next 'App of the Week' article April 5th.

Have an app you would like to share? e-mail Rebecca rosecrans@tccsa.net