As I have written about before, I’m a big proponent of getting eBooks into my scholars’ hands. Previously, I cast my vote for Stanza as my favorite app for reading eBooks on an iPad or other iOS device, but I’ve recently changed my mind. Here’s why you should go with Apple’s own iBooks. (And it’s not because iBooks2 allows you to access Apple’s gorgeous new digital textbooks, though that’s certainly a huge advantage.)
I’m always looking to move information from websites to my class iPads. The reason is simple: syncing 30 iPads one-to-one with my school MacBook is a pain, but putting material on a website allows for a one-to-many distribution channel. Fortunately, iOS offers a handy default connection between Safari and iBooks. If you point iOS Safari (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch) at an ePub file sitting on a webserver, it will ask if you would like to open the file in iBooks. This means I can make eBooks available on our class Moodle site and allow students to browse and download them individually at their own discretion—no syncing required.
There are lots of ways to do this, but the essential elements are:
- upload the ePub files to a web site
- create links on a web page that point to the files
- make these links accessible to your audience
For a few weeks, I’ve been doing this with an ugly setup that involved showing book information and links in a Google Doc spreadsheet:
But today I decided it was time to clean up and get professional. So that meant moving our private digital class library into Moodle.
Moodle includes a helpful module for making databases with a simple wizard interface. I said that each entry in the database needed to have these fields:
- Cover image
- Open in iBooks [a URL link to the book file]
Here’s what that looks like for Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother
The summary info and cover image I pulled from goodreads.com, the phenomenal social networking site for sharing book recommendations.
Now that I’ve got a more streamlined system, I’ll need to keep growing the library and tracking to see what books my scholars are reading.