As both PDF and EPUB are standards, there are many ways to get documents into those formats. On the Mac, just about any text file can be converted to .pdf format via the “Save As PDF” command under the standard Print function. We have already shown how simple it is to convert a .pdf file into a EPUB file via CALIBRE. The process to create eBooks for the iPad is even simplier.
PDF and EPUB files can be transfer to the iPad via the iTunes application. iBook is the eBook reader for the iPad. The interface for iBook is a bookshelf. PDF and EPUB files show up automatically on the bookshelf. Tapping on a title’s icon will open the files as an eBook, ready for reading, and with all of the basic page-turning features…all without doing any programming. Vertical formatting and horizontal double-sided page layouts are also automatic.
It took us about 15-minutes to convert our 1000 Character Chinese text into a fully functioning eBook for viewing on the iPad. There is nothing fancy (no audio, embedded video, etc…) in this version, but it also took very little work. Our next goal is to see how difficult it is to take the content and use it to create a richer app for learning Chinese.
When we said the iPad was the most interesting device we have seen in computing since the 128K Mac, we were not exaggerating. If anyone has watched a three or four year old child play with an iPhone, they will immediately recognize the educational potential of the iPad. We expect they will be able to navigate the iPad without instructions. The touch-sensitive UI removes the keyboard-interface barrier for these young minds. We expect rich interactive children books to be the “killer app” for this device. If anyone has a doubt, all they have to do is get a copy of Alice In Wonderland or Winnie-the-Poohto see the potential of this new medium for the kindergarden class of 2015.