It’s time for all of us to rediscover books in digital format. Not only are there new ways to interact with ebooks on Android, iOS, and Windows Mobile devices, but you can also easily create ebooks for sharing. This blog entry offers suggestions on where to find ebooks, how to make ebooks, and how to read them on popular mobile devices.
Are you an avid reader? Or, perhaps your students are creating ePubs using the built-in Google Docs ePub exporter? If so, you can definitely take your reading on the road with these mobile apps.
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Finding and Creating eBooks
Finding non-Digital Rights Management (a.k.a. non-DRM) books can be a challenge for schools. This may be why OverDrive is heavily used in many libraries, and solutions like BiblioTech are quite popular.
Below, you will find some sites I have used in the past to find non-DRM (Digital Rights Management) formatted ePubs.
Note: As in any library or book store, there exists content that may be inappropriate for younger readers. Have learning conversations with students and parents when counseling that they “find free stuff” to read on the web. With that caveat in mind, I have tried to link to the Children’s/Juvenile section of each ebook distributor below.
- Baen Free Library of Science Fiction
- Free ePub Books
- Free eBooks
Remember that the best books often can be created by students, for students.
The options for creating ebooks, especially those in the standard ePub format, have grown; here are my top two favorite ebook creation tools:
- Google Docs ePub export – This tool provides for an easy way to create ePub-formatted ebooks.
- Book Creator – If you haven’t used Book Creator, it is an excellent ePub creation tool boasting over 15 million ebooks. A $0.99 Book Creator Guide for Teachers for Android, iOS, and Windows mobile devices allows you to create a simple ePub without media or an enhanced ePub with video, audio, and more embedded. This versatility means you can create content on an iPad/iOS device and share it with a wide variety of audiences. You can also share it to cloud storage (e.g. Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive, or iCloud). It also supports the creation of digital comic books, something your students will love.
Reading eBooks on Your Mobile Device
Depending on your mobile device, consider the following apps. For me, these are among the top apps available. I read a lot on my mobile devices, and these options have been most trouble free.
Device #1 – iOS (iPad/iPhone)
- iBooks (free) – The Apple iBooks app is the default ebook reader on most Apple devices. Some folks may never want to use anything else. But for avid readers who may not want to be locked in, the next recommendation may be worth your consideration.
- Readdle Documents (free) – The Documents app makes it a cinch to read DRM ePub/PDF ebooks. Loading up ePub/PDF files onto your iOS device is a cinch with Documents.
- Google Play Books (free) – Google Play has a ton of free content available, much of it falling into the “classics” category. What’s neat is that you can easily drop content into Google Play and it will sync across devices. For districts using Chromebooks, this may be a welcome feature. And, the Google app works great on iOS devices as well. If you are moving across devices in the Google ecosystem, then definitely consider Google Play books.
Amazon Kindle (free) – Whether you have a Kindle device or not, this app is a must-have. Amazon provides more free ebooks than any other publisher, as well as significant discounts on more popular books than iBooks, and the app works on any device.
Device #2 – Android
For Android users, the choices are fairly clear:
- Aldiko (free) – While Android tablets have ample access to ePub/ebook readers, Aldiko reigns supreme as the free, no-cost reading tool to use on tablets running some version of Android. A version of it can also be “side-loaded” (quite easy and legal) onto the Amazon Fire tablet, as well as the Barnes and Noble Samsung tablet. In this way, you can load ebooks on an SD card or use an app to copy non-DRM ePub files.
- Google Play Books (free) – All of the features I mentioned above that Google Play Books offers for iOS devices are definitely included for Android as well.
- Amazon Kindle (free)
Having used both of these, I must admit that I keep them loaded on my Android tablet all the time. I use Aldiko when I have non-DRM content that I intend to read only on one device, but use Google Play Books when I have non-DRM content that I want to read on multiple devices, whether it be my Android tablet, iPhone, iPad and/or web (e.g. Mac/Windows/Chromebook). Most folks will just use Google Play Books and never bother with Aldiko, but the latter is worth the mention because it is free and open source.
Device #3 – Windows
For Windows mobile devices, consider the following ePub book readers:
- Bookviser Reader (free) – A friendly, easy-to-use ebook reader for Windows Mobile.
- Freda (free, ad-supported) – This is a free Windows mobile ebook reader that allows you to access ebooks stored in a variety of places (e.g. Dropbox, OneDrive, SD cards).
- Ebook Reader (free, but $2.99 version has more features) – Another Windows mobile ebook reader.
- Amazon Kindle (free)
As a veteran reader, I encourage you to read and write more. More importantly, encourage your students to become authors to a global audience.