Google has just added a new feature to Google Docs that should make it much easier to create ebooks for use on tablets, phones, Kindle-style devices, PCs and laptops. Google has added the option to export documents in the ePub format, which is the international standard for ebooks and so is supported by most software and devices. ePub files are particularly suited to longer documents, such as academic papers, theses, and full-length books, due to the built-in, hyperlinked index features, ability to search within the document and support for formatted text and images. Most ePub reading software allows the reader to create unlimited bookmarks within a file and highlight text and add annotations, with some also enabling definitions or translations to be looked up without an internet connection.
The animation below shows how to export any of your documents in Google Docs into an ePub file. Once you have downloaded the file you can distribute it in many ways, such as through Blackboard, by email or even upload it to a Print-on-Demand service so your students can purchase low-cost bound hard copies.
If you start to build up a collection of ePub files, then the free Calibre software is an excellent tool for managing your library and includes tools to edit ePub files, convert between different electronic book formats and even download the contents of websites into an ebook for reading without an internet connection. Calibre is available for Windows, Mac and Linux and there is also a portable version that can run from a USB drive, giving you full access to your library from any Windows PC. Software to read ePub files is readily available for Apple and Android devices in the relevant app store.
More information on the advantages of distributing your resources as ebooks can be found on our ‘What is an ebook?’ post and we also have some ideas on getting your students to create ebooks in one of our Teaching Nuggets.