Blog eMags and You

Okay, so this is my newest plan to keep up with my life. I’m picking some blogs that I definitely must keep up with–the ones that I consistently learn from and recommend on Sundays. And I’m picking a few book blogs to tell me what I should be reading so I can try to keep my head in the reading world, as well as the writer world and up my own–

Anyway, the new plan for not spending all day at this, surfing from one thing to another, was to try reading the blogs on my NOOK Color. I don’t like typing on the device a lot (maybe keeping me from some of my tome-like replies), and the browser is slow which may stop me from surfing too much. Still, must-try book samples are only a few clicks away through the NOOK shop. And I can take my daily news with me if I’m going out. Seems like a plan.

My way of doing that is to use Calibre to make a daily magazine of the blogs I’ve selected. I’ve been an ereading device owner for years now, and I’ve always used the Calibre software for ebook management. I can’t say enough about how awesome this completely free package is. I’m going to take you through how to do this. After I’m done, I’m going to talk a bit about something that may be in your blog settings that makes it harder for your readers to read you this way.

the Fetch News button in CalibreIn Calibre, there is a Fetch News feature. It’s a handy button on the top toolbar. When you click the little arrow beside it, you get a dropdown from which you can select “Add a custom news source.” This brings up the window to create your little digest, magazine, whatever you want to call it. It looks like this:

Window for adding a custom news recipe in CalibreIt calls your new source Unknown News Source. Change that to anything you like. I called mine “Blogs.” Ooh, I know. You could also create different magazines for writer blogs, reader blogs, etc. or Blogs1, Blogs2, so that you could go through your must-reads and move on to the next set of if-I-have-time-reads.

At the bottom of the window there’s a bar for the feed URL. Open up your browser, go to your blogs and start finding those URLs. Most people have the little orange RSS icon at least. When you click it, it will usually take you to the feed page where you see a list of recent articles and the option to use a service to subscribe. Just copy the URL that’s in the address bar and paste it into Calibre. Give the feed a title and click the button to add.

When you’re finished adding feeds, click the Add/Update Recipe button. (A recipe for a magazine is what you just built.) Then close. Calibre may keep asking you if you’re sure, even if you’ve saved everything. Just move on.

Click the arrow next to Fetch News again and select “Schedule news download.” You’ll see a long list of languages with numbers beside them. These are prebuilt news recipes. You’re looking for “Custom.” When you click that, it should drop down and display your new recipe. Select that and you’ll see options to choose how often and when your feeds are downloaded and your magazine is built. You can click “Download now” to see what you’re going to get.

Window to schedule download of news recipe in CalibreTo have this happen automatically, you’ll need to leave Calibre running. In order to really exit Calibre, you have to go to your system tray (that “show hidden icons” thingy with the teeny icons), right click it, and exit it. Otherwise it just keeps running even if you close the window in your taskbar. So that’s not hard. When you use Calibre to move things on and off your device, it’s called side-loading. Before devices had wi-fi or Whispernet, this is how it was done. (You know, back in the day, before the NOOK customer service people were born.)

Device buttons in Calibre toolbarUse the appropriate cable with a USB plug on one end (or however you connect) to hook up to your computer and wait for Calibre to recognize the device and sync. You’ll notice new Device and Send to Device buttons appear on the toolbar. You can see that my SD card also shows up because Calibre will let you move things from the computer to either the main memory or SD card. You can also use Calibre to delete items from your device that you’ve finished reading. If you click the device button, you’ll be able to see the items currently residing on the device. Go back to the library by clicking the Library button.

When your magazine has downloaded, it will be in your library with the title you gave the recipe and the date it was downloaded. I just right-click the entry and select “Send to device–>Main memory.” The transfer takes seconds. Be sure to go to your system tray, right-click the USB icon and choose eject so you can safely disconnect without corrupting the transfer. I dunno, I never had problems with that on the Sony Reader, but yanking out the USB on the NOOK Color seems to be a bad idea.

Once it’s set up, this daily ritual should take you about a minute, and then you can run out the door, catch the train and read some blogs. On a device like Sony Reader, I’m pretty sure it just shows up alphabetically in the title list. On the NOOK Color you’ll find it in “My Files,” “Magazines.” The rest of you are on your own.

Why I Can’t Read Your Blog

If your feed is set to set to show only summaries, summaries are what I get in my magazine. Each entry, whether summary or full text, does have a link to the entry on the web (so you can go read more, comment, etc.), but remember that a) I don’t like my browser, b) I don’t always have wi-fi access when I’m reading blogs, and c) there are still tons of readers out there that aren’t even wi-fi enabled.

To check your feed settings in WordPress, go to your dashboard and scroll all the way down the left side menu to “Settings.” Click “Reading.” Right above the Enhanced Feeds heading there are radio buttons for “Full text” or “Summary.” Make sure full text is selected, save the changes, and I’ll be good to go for reading your blog on the go.

Wordpress page for adjusting Reading in Settings

For Kindle Owners

Kindle owners can subscribe to blogs and have them delivered right to the Kindle. Amazon charges a fee for this convenience, and that fee is shared with the blog owner, similar to the way Amazon pays royalties on books. Not that I expect people have been dying to pay for the privilege of reading this blog, but I have added it to the service.  Find it here or click that link and search for some other favorite blog.

It looks like most subscriptions cost 99¢ or $1.99, but I saw nowhere to set a price so I’m guessing Amazon decides. If you’d like to learn more about making your own blog available for Kindle subscription, check out this article from the Savvy Book Marketer and download the PDF tutorial at the end of the post. (Thanks to Kait Nolan for sending me there.)

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5 Comments

Filed under blogs

5 responses to “Blog eMags and You

  1. Thank you for this helpful article. All of this stuff is new to me. I had never even heard of Calibre.

  2. Wow, this is a great post. Like Piper said, I’d never heard of Calibre, but is sounds like a great way to keep track of blogs I enjoy reading. Thanks for the heads up.

  3. I have Calibre, but had no idea it did this! I just used it to convert to different e formats. I would use it on my computer, though, not a handheld device. But it’s great to know it will do this.

    I had noticed that when I get emails from blogs that sometimes it shows the full blog and sometimes just part of it. I checked my settings, and I have full text set on mine. Yay for me! LOL

  4. Cool post, now I know what I can do to make blog reading easier when I’ll be offline for awhile (i.e. travelling). And a big 1 on Full text – I read blogs on my phone and half the time don’t even click through onthe summaries, for the same reason as you.

  5. That would be awesome to be able to read blogs on the Kindle. -eyes hers- Lately I’ve been reading them on the iPhone, but oy my eyes! Now to go fiddle with Calibre. I follow too many blogs to pay for them all.. yet. We’ll see how the desperation goes. xD

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