Idea to File Away for the Future: A Wiki Your Customers Can Use to Create Custom eBook User Manuals

Yesterday, Wikipedia added the “ePUB” file format as an export option for collections of Wikipedia articles you want to compile. This may not sound like something new, as the ability to compile — and even order a print-on-demand version of — such a collection of articles has been around for a while.

What makes this new feature significant is that ePUB is a format optimized for display using all the major eBook reader devices or apps (Kindle, Apple iBooks, Google Books, Nook, etc.). While PDFs of such articles were readable on such devices or apps, the ePUB format will provide you with a document that is more “book-like.”

I encourage you to try the feature out. The best place to start is the Wikipedia Book Creator Help Page. It includes a step-by-step guide.

As you play with it, think what your customers could do if all of the information you create to help customers know how to use your products were collected and categorized in a wiki built on the same platform as Wikipedia.

Imagine being able to offer your customers the ability to go to this wiki and spend a few moments clicking around on product user manuals and how-to information they would like to compile for a project they’re working on — and then simply clicking a button and having all of that material magically appear as an eBook document formatted for their iPads and Kindles.

One day I hope the companies I love become as obsessed with the potential of the MediaWiki platform as I am. (Shameless plug: Hammock helps companies create such wikis.)

Side suggestion: For fun, even if you don’t want to purchase a physical print-on-demand version of a Wikipedia compilation, while you’re trying out the “book creator,” click the “preview” button on the “pediapress” option to see the tool that’s available for you to create a cover of a book. The template options and collection of public domain art related to your topic will impress you.

And, as always when I write about Wikipedia, let me add: The content you find on Wikipedia should never be considered, “The Truth,” however it can often provide a gateway to the truth.