Somewhat Off topic - any tips on converting binders to ebooks?

We are trying to have our information "out there" in different formats for our employees - obviously we're working on "on demand" courses, but we also have OTL & live classes, and we have tons of binders...

I'm the point person for all of this, and I'd like to try to convert our binders (which are almost all outdated by the time they get to our stores) to e-books.  I absolutely LOVE the e-books that are on this site, and I was wondering if the creators had any tips on how they created them.

What we have now could technically just be turned into a PDF file and I could create a cute "cover page" for it, but it's long & boring, and certainly won't inspire anyone to print it out or view it, let alone read the whole thing...

Any tips?

4 Replies
Christy Tucker

How do you expect people to use the information? Is it something they will read cover-to-cover, or is it a quick reference where they look up just a page or two that they need at that moment? If they read the whole thing (and they're currently reading it in binder form), then an ebook makes sense.

If it's more of a reference, something more easily searchable would probably be more useful. I'd look for some sort of web page format where people can search for just the piece they need. A wiki might work, especially if you have a lot of people who update the content frequently. A collection of online articles built on a blog or CMS platform might work too.

Karen Johnson

Thanks for responding, Christy...  At the moment, the "expectation" is that the associates are to read the current binders cover to cover.  Which isn't happening (partly because the info could be outdated, or because the store has lost the binder, or they don't have time, etc.)

The goal is to have the associates retain the information.  I'm trying to figure out a way to have it easier for the associates to have the most current info, that they'll actually access.  To add another level of difficulty, a good portion of our associates are non-technical, don't often have access (at work) to computers for learning, and are part time.

I really like your suggestion to make it more of a reference/wiki, but I like having the ability to have the manager/associates print it out and read it too.

Regina Floyd

You might want to check out MadCap Flare.  It's an authoring, publishing, and content management system.  You create your content once (and you can import from Word). Then you create style sheets for each type of published output (HTML5, PDF, Word, WebHelp).  

If you have multiple ebooks with multiple desired outputs (or multiple audiences), then it might be worth investigating. 

Christy Tucker

It sounds like you may need to try to reassess the real goal. Is it really to "retain the information," or is it to change behavior? If the goal is changing behavior, is reading (in online or print) actually going to accomplish that goal? I'd hate to see you spend tons of effort towards creating a solution that doesn't really do what the business needs. If your goal is memorization, you'd be better off setting up a testing or flashcard engine that could be accessed on phones or tablets.

Regina's suggestion of MadCap Flare sounds like a good one if you ultimately decide that reading is (at least part of) the solution. It doesn't sound to me like expecting people to read is going to be your only solution though.