Create a digital book

Once you have fully understood the different formats and possibilities of each, it is now time to create your own digital book. In this part of the file, I will present the different creation software to you and I will end with some examples made in class.

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Once you have fully understood the different formats and possibilities of each, it is now time to create your own digital book. In this part of the file, I will present the different creation software to you and I will end with some examples made in class.


Word processing

Word processing is well known. One thinks among others of Microsoft with its famous Word, or to the software Publisher which allows the creation of superb documents. At Apple, we think of software Pages. Google, for its part, offers Drive, his free online word processor. There are also free word processors like Open Office and LibreOffice. In the second part of this dossier, we saw the document formats that can be produced with this software, formats that are perfect for reading on a computer. However, these formats are not necessarily ideal for playback on mobile devices. For example, the document will not necessarily adapt to the size of the screen. While several word processing programs allow exporting in EPUB format, this conversion does not allow the full potential of the format to be exploited. This is why there is specialized software.


Specialized publishers

On the side of specialized software, there are paid and free solutions.

For those who can afford the ultimate, here is InDesign CC from Adobe. This software is a subscription application. It is possible to obtain it with the package Creative Cloud Adobe or single-app subscription. It is a very powerful and professional product that can be used to create stunning digital books and magazines. If you are not interested in the subscription, there is also the software ebk. This software is available in different versions depending on the type of export format you want. The basic (creative) version allows you to mount models, but does not allow exporting. The pro versions allow books to be exported in PDF, HTML, EPUB 2 (with images), EPUB 3 (with sound and video) formats and even in proprietary online store formats (Amazon, Apple, Google ). These two solutions are obviously aimed more at publishing professionals. It is rare for a teacher to acquire this type of software. On the other hand, it is important to talk about them to compare them with free or cheaper offers.

To end the “paid” section, here are two very interesting applications, available on iPad and Android. Applications Book Creator and Creative Book Builder are inexpensive solutions (less than 5 $) and very interesting if you have a tablet. The Book Creator app offers a free version limited to creating a single book. The paid version allows you to create an unlimited amount of books. These two applications have the advantage of being very easy to use. To compare them quickly, Book Creator is very intuitive and even a kindergarten child could use it while Creative Book Builder is a bit more complex and also offers more possibilities. These applications allow you to create books in EPUB format. These books can therefore be exported and read on different devices. It is even possible to drop them off in the various online stores.

Now let's take a look at free and open source solutions.

If you are using a Windows computer or tablet, there are some EPUB authoring and converting software available. A simple Google search will allow you to possibly find others than the one I present to you here. The software Sigil is a reference in the field and it is a project open source (also works on Mac and Linux, by the way). It allows you to create and convert documents to EPUB 2 and also add some features of EPUB 3 (video and audio). The software interface is less developed and less powerful than Adobe's InDesign, but it allows you to create equally interesting books.

For those who use a Mac and whose students have iPads, here is an interesting solution. All iPads have the app for free iBooks. The Apple company created this application together with the free software iBooks Author. This software, only available on a Mac, allows you to create interactive and visually beautiful digital books. The advantage of this software is that it is very intuitive and works very well with the Pages word processor. You can drag your documents directly into the software and it will integrate them and automatically adjust the layout. You also have a series of gadgets (“widgets”) that add functionality to the document, such as Keynote presentations, videos, and even self-correcting quizzes. On the other hand, the book thus created will be in format ibooks and it will only be possible to read it through the iPad. The iBooks application on the iPad also allows you to open books in PDF or EPUB format.

Always on the side of Apple, there is the free application iTunes U. This application is linked to an online content management system. TheiTunes U Course Manager allows you to create your lessons and share them with your students in the form of a book that can evolve over time. This system allows you to build your course, but also to improve it. If you make a change to your lesson, students will receive that change when their tablet connects to the Internet.

In conclusion, the creation of a digital book relies on a variety of technologies. It is therefore important to take the time to analyze your needs to choose the best format and the best way to distribute it. To distribute your book, it is always possible to deposit it on the school server or in your personal online space such as Dropbox, but it is also possible to use the distribution channels already in place. Currently, the three big players are Amazon with its Kindle Direct Publishing, Google with its Books Partner Program and Apple with its itunes. You can distribute your book on these three platforms. Your book can be free or paid. It's up to you.

Good creation and good reading!



File plan:

- Introduction

- What is a digital book?
A little history
The birth of digital

- Digital book formats
Formats generated by word processing
The cross-platform document format (PDF)
HTML language
The EPUB format
Proprietary formats for e-readers
How to choose the right format

Create your digital book
Word processing
Specialized publishers

- Some examples of digital books in schools
References and useful resources


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About the Author

Sébastien Wart
Sebastien wart
Director of teaching and educational innovation at Saint-Paul College. A specialist in technological integration, Sébastien was an IT and Web optimization consultant at the FÉEP as well as an educational consultant in technology integration and a teacher at the Collège de Montréal.

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