App Review: BlogBooks for iOS

I received a promo code for an intriguing iOS app yesterday. It said that it would take posts from a WordPress or Blogger blog and turn them into an e-book, readable in iBooks and easily converted to Kindle.

Let me say that the description and reality have something in common. But not everything.

It’s a simple enough interface and easy enough to figure out. You input the URL of the blog in question, add optional Categories and a Max number of posts. There’s a Settings tab where you can also specify sort order and a date range.

So far so good. I thought it might be fun to test it out by turning our “Calibre Guide” into an e-book. And that’s where I ran into trouble. It took me many tries to even get it to pull in the posts I wanted. It hung several times, and I had to restart the app. Finally, after about 20 minutes (which included testing another couple of blogs to see if it was just a TeleRead problem–it wasn’t), I finally had the list of posts! In the correct order! I added a pretty picture for a cover and tapped “Compile.” And it hung again. And no, you can’t go back and start the step you were on again. You have to go through the entire process again, starting with downloading the posts.

I did finally produce an e-book, using posts from another site. The results were okay, although it added some interesting page breaks. I would have been willing to share it with friends, but I certainly wouldn’t have uploaded it to an e-bookstore (as the app description indicated I could).

I tried to import posts from my own site, and the insisted that my website had no feeds, even though I have a blog on it, and I input the URL correctly. My site was the only one I tried that failed, however.

Oh, and did I mention that it sucks battery like there’s no tomorrow?

As you can tell, I’m not impressed. There are better ways of turning blogs into books, like Ebook Glue, which we covered earlier this year. Ebook Glue, by the way, had no problems with my site.

I can’t give this one any more than 2 e-readers. It’s slow, unreliable and unpolished. Not worth $2.99.

1 Comment on App Review: BlogBooks for iOS

  1. Thanks for the review!

    A couple of points:

    Your personal blog is using Feedburner. That won’t work for multiple reasons — the most important of which is that Feedburner imposes an artificial cutoff of 256K bytes on a feed. Any blog with images is going to blow that out in nothing flat (Feedburner also doesn’t allow paged retrieval of feeds from older posts, as you get with a real WordPress feed, and adds a lot of extraneous junk to the feed XML). While the Feedburner issue is discussed in the FAQ section on the site, there should be an in-app notification if it detects Feedburner. I’ll add that to a future release.

    I’m not sure what caused the hanging problem (other than perhaps a flaky network connection?), but will test the app with your Calibre guide to see if I can identify it.

    Yes, you should absolutely be able to go back to the previous screen after a cancel rather than starting over. Noted for enhancement.

    Battery-wise, downloading scads of text and images and compressing them into a zip file is going to use a lot of battery, certainly, especially over a cellular connection. I don’t think this one is avoidable.

    Thanks again!

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