Pressing Books from the web

June 27th, 2011 § 0 comments

Earlier this year, I was searching for a web-based tool that could be used to create both EPUBS and print books. Given the rise and rise of EPUB, Print on Demand, and the increasing sophistication of HTML5 and CSS3 for print as well as onscreen, this seemed like the future of publishing.

As mentioned elsewhere on this site, I was aware of a few companies experimenting in this area. And then I came across Hugh Maguire’s new venture PressBooks, which aims to do just what I was looking for. It uses a WordPress-based system to create valid EPUB, PDF for POD, and ICML for import into Adobe InDesign. John Rankin’s wikipublisher is the basis for the transformation to PDF for POD, and John Maxwell’s MPub project, the basis for the ICML.

PressBooks is an alpha site, so not fully up and running, but it is great to be one of the companies trialling it at this early stage. We are using it to edit Zirk van den Berg’s new novel No-Brainer. At the moment, the best part of PressBooks is the easy export to EPUB, PDF and ICML. As it is still an alpha site, the typography in PressBooks is still very basic, so one needs to add CSS to the EPUB files, but that’s not too much of a problem. (At the moment, I’d say IGP’s ‘Typography in the Browser’ seems to be a winner.)

The other great feature of PressBooks is that because it is based on WordPress, the editing, and indeed writing, can be a collaborative venture.

Here’s a link to a test PressBooks site of No-Brainer, which is just the first (unedited) chapter. There are some issues with the Metadata feeds in PressBooks (i.e. ‘twnsstr’ is NOT the author of the book) but it gives you some idea of how the site works. Feel free to leave comments.:)
No-Brainer, Chapter 1. (A PDF of this chapter is available on the Say Books site.)

And thanks Hugh and PressBooks for the opportunity to be involved, and for your always cheerful prompt response to queries.


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