I’ve recently installed a widget on the sidebar of this blog which enables users to download an EPub or PDF format of recent blog posts (an idea, incidentally, which I got from the RSC MASHe blog).
As indicated by my post on EPub Format For Papers in Repositories I’ve an interest in the potential EPub format so this blog provides an opportunity for testing various approaches to creating EPub resources. The widget uses the Feedbook service for creating the
EPub updated link to ePub file) (and PDF<) formats. The service processes a blog’s RSS feed, so the number of items it converts is determined by the numbers of RSS items which have been selected in the blog’s administrators interface - for this blog there are 31 items in the RSS feed (this value was selected so that an RSS feed for the complete contents of the busiest month, July 2007, can be displayed).
Due to performance reasons the Feedbook service only process the text in the blog so accompanying images, for example, embedded in a post will not be available. Via a recent comment on this blog I learnt about the Anthologize WordPress plugin which “is a free, open-source, plugin that transforms WordPress 3.0 into a platform for publishing electronic texts“. Using the plugin you can “grab posts from your WordPress blog, import feeds from external sites, or create new content directly within Anthologize. Then outline, order, and edit your work, crafting it into a single volume for export in several formats, including—in this release—PDF, ePUB, TEI“. However this plugin cannot be used for blogs, such as this one, which are hosted on WordPress.com.
But in addition to the tools which can be used to create ePub version of blog posts I have a concern on how users who may have an interest reading blog posts (and other documents) on mobile devices will discover the availability of resources published in this format. I also wonder whether users will be confused if they click on the link will be confused when asked to select an application. Although Wikipedia provides a list of EPub reading tools none of them are particularly well-known. Will we see a repeat of the confusion which non-technical end users experienced when links to RSS became prevalent?
I should also add that I’ve also an interest in process for easily getting blog posts on Kindle devices. I did wonder whether a PDF creation widget might be used in this process but 5 minutes of testing with a colleague’s Kindle was unfruitful. Hmm, in light of the interest in the new Kindle device I wonder whether we will see renewed interest in the PDF format, possible at the expense of EPub?
Note In February 2011 I became aware that this service had been discontinued. The widget has been removed from the sidebar and replaced by a link to the Newstoebook service which provides a similar format conversion service. However in 2012, due to limitations of the service, this link was also removed.