Lost in format: html, rss, pdf, email, epub, mobi, Kindle It ~:-s

This morning I’ve managed to confuse myself over which are the best formats and ways to publish this blog. So in this post I review what I already use and show how you can embed ePub, mobi and Kindle links into your blog using the FiveFilters.org Kindle It service.

I’ve always been interested in discovering new ways to automatically publish in as many different formats. I can’t remember in which order these developments came about but there was:

  • HTML – simple rendering of WordPress posts in html which over the years have been wrapped in various themes include a mobile friendly WPTouch format
  • RSS – another out-of-the-box WordPress (and other blog/news site staple)
  • PDF (aka MASHezine) – this is newspaper format of my last 10 posts. Originally I used to use HP’s tabbloid service to get an emailed PDF of my RSS feed which I manually uploaded, then I developed a Make Tabbloid wordpress plugin which used their API to automatically do this. … until with no notice they pulled their API. In the end this was a good thing as I rewrote the plugin using the open source FiveFilters.org PDF Newspaper.
  • Email – at my time at the RSC when I was out and about it was very clear that a lot of people didn’t use or understand RSS feeds (commoncraft RSS in plain English). Aware of not wanting to overburden overworked academic staff with my ramblings I use the MailPress WordPress plugin to distribute a monthly digest wrapped in a custom theme. Here’s an example of last months. If you want to subscribe to this visit my blog (full not mobile) and there is a box half way down right-hand-side (as I’m no longer at the RSC I’m less caring towards overworked academics there is also an option for a by post email update ;)

This is where I start getting confused. As I’m not an ebook reader user I don’t really know the best way for you to consume my content. Maybe you use the free Calibre ebook management software to convert your favourite sites into ebook format and sync with your device? Maybe there is a Kindle service you use to do this?

I’ve gone through a couple of ebook services in the past. First there was FeedBooks which you could get a RESTful url to the latest posts from your RSS feed in mobi/ePub/Kindle formats (this feature was pulled by feedbooks). Then I experimented with NewsToEbook, but this takes you off site unless you manually update the links to the cached output. Recently I had quick look at dotepub.com which has a widget you can drop in to your website (or you could do something with the dotepub API), but you are limited to ePub format.

Instead I’ve returned to another FiveFilters.org offering called Kindle It. Here’s why:

  • As well as Kindle it can generate ePub and mobi
  • For ePub and mobi it looks like I can use a RESTful url (i.e. I enter it once and Kindle It does the rest of the work keeping the output up-to-date)
  • The service allows you to email a post straight to your kindle (Use case scenario I have in mind is: Jeff is browsing my blog, spots one of my verbose posts and wants to read it later. Clicking on Kindle It he is able to send it to his Kindle for reading on the train)

If you’d like to use Kindle It on your own site below is the snippet of code I used which automatically passes the current page url to Kindle It. Update: I've written this little widget which I can call with <script type="text/javascript" src="http://mashe.hawksey.info/script/kindle-it.js"></script>

So you ebook users does this option work for you or is there a better way?

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