Creating EPUB Files with wallabag

21 September, 2020

wallabag is one of those open source applications that I don’t think gets enough attention or praise. Created as an alternative to the Pocket read-it-later tool, wallabag has evolved quite a bit over the last few years.

You can read articles that you’ve saved to wallabag online or using the mobile app. Both are fine, but both also have their limitations. With the online version, you need to be at your computer to use it. The mobile app is functional, but you can’t control the choice or size of the font used with the app.

If you want to take your reading completely offline instead, you can generate EPUB and load it into reader on a laptop or a mobile device from within wallabag. Let’s find out how to do that.

Creating an EPUB

You’ll need access to an instance of wallabag, either one that you host yourself or a hosted version. If you’re wondering, I use a hosted version.

You can create an EPUB for all of your unread articles in wallabag or for a single article.

Let’s say you’re taking a train, bus, or plan ride and want some reading material for your trip. So, you’ve collected a bunch of articles and blog posts in wallabag. To save them as an EPUB file, click the Export icon on the toolbar.

The export icon on wallabag’s toolbar

A panel flies out from the right. This panel lists the formats in which you can export the articles in wallabag:

Click EPUB, and wait. Depending on the number of articles you’ve saved, it can take a couple of seconds to 10 seconds or more for wallabag to generate the EPUB file.

If you only want to save a single article — say, a piece of longform journalism — as an EPUB, view it in wallabag. In the menu on the left, click the export icon. A list of formats in which you can export the article displays.

Click EPUB. The export is almost instantaneous.

If you’re wondering what the ebook looks like in an EPUB reader, here’s an example:

Reading an EPUB generated with wallabag

Any drawbacks?

Only a couple. First, you can’t customize the EPUB that wallabag generates. The EPUB isn’t the prettiest, but it is readable

The first page of each article in an EPUB generated by wallabag is an informational page — it list the title, author, estimated reading time, the link to the original article, and when you added it to wallabag.

The first page of an article in an EPUB

I’m not entirely sure how useful most of that information is to someone reading the EPUB.

Generating an EPUB from your articles in wallabag is a good way of taking your reading portable. It’s fast and easy, and works on any device that supports an EPUB reader.

Scott Nesbitt