Sep. 18, 2012 at 7:09 PM ET
The Wikimedia Foundation, which organizes and runs Wikipedia, announced a few feature Tuesday that allows users to turn articles into free e-books that can be read on Kindles, PCs and other devices, even if they're not connected to the Internet.
Wikipedia is an excellent source for an overview of a topic like marmosets or classical sculpture. But even its highly condensed articles can reach epic length: entries like those for the American Civil War or Napoleon stretch on for pages and pages — more than may be suitable for reading on a desktop or smartphone.
In order to allow content to be consumed more easily, by more devices, and in more places, Wikipedia has been given a "Book creator" feature that packages articles or groups of articles into a portable, easy-to-read PDF or e-book. It's free, of course, and just takes a couple of clicks to accomplish.
When you find a few articles that you think may be worth reading on a plane, the subway, or just on a different device, in the left hand column of the page, under the "Print/export" heading, you'll find an option to "Create a book." This will put a little tool at the top of Wikipedia pages you read, allowing you to add them to your collection.
When you've found everything you need, you can finalize the book or add a few articles that might be suggested based on topic and popularity. It'll give you a download link for a file you can take with you anywhere, or you can actually print the book using the PediaPress service.
It's very easy to do, but in case you need a primer, this video shows the process in action:
The feature is live right now and should work with any Wikipedia page, though some related sites, like Wikibooks and Wikimedia, aren't included yet.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.