I gave this a try and I have put together a screensnap guide (click on any to enlarge).
The UI is not exactly straightforward.
Here I am at the entry for Gerry Anderson, the famous British TV producer. Click there in the left column for Print/Export:
Then click on Create a Book:
Click the green button to start the process:
Now it gets tricky, because you can add multiple entries to an eBook. So you must explicitly tell Book Creator to add this page:
Now what I’ve done here is clicked on the link for the Thunderbirds entry and I was taken to it, where I will also add it to the book:
Hell, I could have been there all day spidering through all the Wikipedia entries linked to Gerry Anderson and each of his productions, but I kept it simple for this demonstration.
Once any entry has been added, it can also be removed from the book if you change your mind:
Now this is where the UI falls apart. To download this book, Show Book must be clicked on:
That will bring you to the download page where ePub must be selected (which is the point of this demo post). And then click the Download button:
The progress page will display:
When it’s done, click:
On my crap XP PC, that summoned a file selector to save the file.
And here are some of the pages as displayed in FB Reader:
Yes, the illustration are included!
Some more of the pages, showing the Thunderbirds entry was included as well:
And illustrations from that entry too:
This is a great tool.
I have two issues.
The first is with the size of the illustrations. I understand the problems involved with rendering and downloading a file, but with people using tablets these days, the illustrations seem too small to be useful or enjoyable. It would add some complexity, but perhaps Wikipedia might let people select larger image sizes when they are available.
The second issue is with the UI after a book is downloaded. If you return to Wikipedia, you might find those pages are still included to be added to any new book you begin to create. Then you have to click the Disable Book Creator link in the left column to go through another step to clear those entries. I’d like to see Wikipedia add an option to clear Book Creator after a book has been downloaded.
Otherwise, it’s great that this is built-in to Wikipedia now. Although there are browser extensions like dotEPUB that can also do this for single entries, not everyone will want to install that and on some tablets it’s just not possible to install it. Plus, with it being built-in, people can string together multiple entries into one book.
Kindle owners will likely feel left out now, but perhaps Wikipedia can add that if demand warrants it.