Sunday, September 29, 2013

Flip Snack

Have you ever published a book? When I was in 4th grade, I created an entire book (from cover to illustrations to text), and my beloved teacher had it bound professionally so it looked as though I had been "published." She made two copies: one for me and one for my school's library so that my peers could actually check the book out and read it. I was in awe.

When I had the pleasure of watching my niece give her dad a very similar book as a gift last Christmas, it solidified my belief that being a "published author" is a definite motivator to get kids to write more {and love doing it}.

While publishing students' stories in a hard- or softcover format may not be a financial option, publishing an eBook with student work is completely do-able.

Enter FlipSnack (a part of SnackTools). This website gives you the option to upload PDF documents and convert them into an eBook of sorts.

FlipSnack was originally intended to help website users/bloggers "create stylish digital flipping books out of your PDF documents. You can use it to share or embed into your website or blog all kinds of documents, from books to newspapers and magazines."

You can use FlipSnack to post assignments to a classroom websites, examples on your blogs, and/or eBooks that feature student work. While I think the first two are really cool, it's the last option that excites me the most. I posted assignments and examples to my website when I taught 8th-9th grade English. But making eBooks out of student work? That never occurred to me. {Plus, how fun would it be for students to see it?!}

Cool features of FlipSnack:

  1. It's free.
  2. Publish your eBook on several different websites {personal websites and social media sites}. There's an embed code so that viewers can actually see the eBook on your website instead of having to follow an external link to see anything.
  3. It uses Flash when posted on regular websites, but is also optimized for iPhone and iPad.
  4. There are several customization options so that you can personalize the book(s) in a variety of ways. 
  5. The end result looks professional.
  6. Many, many people can view your eBook for free. The way I understand it, people with a free membership can have a max of 25,000 views per FlipSnack book per day on sites external to FlipSnack (VIP members get 50,000 views). Even after all the day's views have been exceeded, the embedded codes won't work until the next day, but users can still click the link and view the eBook on FlipSnack's page. I don't ever expect to reach that 25,000 view maximum, anyway, so I don't see this as a problem. 
  7. You can enable the ability to download the file(s) inside your book.
  8. Besides all the customization options inside the eBook, you can decide which type of book you'd like to make: hard cover, soft cover (looks like a magazine), or wire bound (looks like a notebook)
  9. Display your collection of eBooks in a widget on your website. My favorite has to be the "bookshelf." How cool would it be to convert your students' stories into FlipSnack books and then display them on a "virtual bookshelf" on your classroom website?! It would look something like this:


The website only allows users to upload PDF documents, but converting files to PDF is pretty easy, so I don't consider that a disadvantage of the website.

Details about $$ involved:

  • There is a free version, but there are a few limitations. The free version puts a watermark on all eBooks. There's also an upload limitation: you can only upload 3 PDF files to each book, and each PDF has a limit of 15 pages each.
  • You can have the watermark removed from individual eBooks by purchasing points. It costs 10 points in order to do this, and the price of the points varies, based on how many you purchase at a time. {A purchase of 10 points will run you $19, a purchase of 25 points will run you $ get the picture. There's a slight discount when you buy points in bulk.}
  • If you don't want to mess with the limitations at all, you can always purchase a VIP membership for $14/month. This membership actually gives you premium access to all of SnackTools's apps, so you're getting quite a bit for your money.
Here's an example of a FlipSnack book that I'm partial to:

Click the picture to see the book for yourself

I wasn't able to embed that particular book because I didn't write it. An embedded book looks like this, though:

Just click "click to read" to enlarge it. Use the arrows on the left and right of the screen to flip the virtual pages.

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