Newly launched PressBooks turns your content into a book

8 Comments

PressBooks, a WordPress based book creation tool, just launched and is now open to the public.

Making heavy use of custom post types to turn WordPress into a web application, PressBooks allows you to enter your book content into WordPress and export it in a variety of formats. It also allows you to invite other users to contribute to your book via the WordPress users system.

Your book, which gets its own public or private subdomain on PressBooks.com, can have multiple authors listed along with standard meta data (title, subtitle, publisher, publication date, etc). Front cover uploading is supported, but uploading a full cover (or back cover) seems to be missing for now.

Entering your book’s chapters is like adding posts to a blog using the standard WordPress content editor (including the distraction free mode if you choose to write your book vs. copying it in).¬†Chapters can be dragged and dropped to re-order and organize them into parts. Extensive front matter support is present, but end matter support seems to be missing from this initial release (e.g. an index, colophon, epilogue, etc).

When you’re done entering your book, you can export it to ePub (in three styles), PDF (3 styles), and two XML formats: InCopy markup language (ICML) for import into Adobe InDesign and¬†Wikibook XML. Hopefully PressBooks plans on adding additional output styles (and custom or community contributed styles) to allow for more variation in formatting.

Your book also gets a website allowing visitors to read you book online if allow it.

PressBooks is targeted at publishers looking to streamline how they receive content from authors and authors looking to self publish their books without having to pay for typesetting. I’d say it looks like a solid service that will only get better with time.

Would you use PressBooks to typeset your next book (or e-book), or would you rather leave it in the hands of a professional?

8 thoughts on “Newly launched PressBooks turns your content into a book

  1. The title is maybe a bit confusing/misleading. It looks like PressBooks helps book authors create their books inside a WordPress interface with an easy path to various publishing options. In a way, it’s not even all that relevant to authors that it is built on top of WordPress.

    When I read the title I thought this would be a plugin that can help turn blog posts in to a book or to assemble a book inside your own WordPress admin (like the anthologize plugin that’s been around for awhile now). I am a bit disappointed it’s not a plugin – you have to sign up to their service. Looks like a promising tool though, I hope they improve the site to communicate the benefits a bit better.

  2. I have to agree with Peter Knight – I was hoping it was a plugin as well, and was a bit thrown off by the headline. Also, note that there’s a small error near the bottom of this article where 2nd and 3rd to last paragraphs are nearly repeated word-for-word.

    The service does look interesting. They do need to explain exactly what it is one is signing up for better though.

  3. Matt- No, it does not. I imagine it’s mostly glue between open source software, but the system itself is closed source at the moment. I prodded Hugh on Twitter to see if they have any plans to release it.

    Peter & Vince- Sorry if the title was misleading to you — I’m not sure how else to put it.

    While a plugin version would be great for us techies, I imagine it’d be more along the lines of VidPress (requiring shell access to install packages for XML parsing and PDF layout) than your average WordPress plugin. It also requires Multisite, which would be another barrier to entry for many. The SAAS model they’ve chosen seems to be the best way to make it widely available at this point.

    The main takeaway for me was seeing WordPress as an application platform powering publishing beyond the web (print & ebooks). If you’ve spent time in the publishing industry as I have (~6 years) you might be a bit more wowed at how revolutionary this could be. Book publishing is notoriously technophobic and generally years behind other industries. Generally, only the bigger houses have XML workflows, and I can almost guarantee it’s not as simple to use as PressBooks.

    • @Nick,

      Thanks for adding what your takeaway is, that actually makes it sound a great deal more compelling. I’m still a bit torn between anthologize and pressbooks, I don’t entirely like the idea of putting a working draft (the ebook I’m writing) in the cloud.

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