Pressbooks Could be the Best Option for Free Online Ebook Making

Last week I posted about the launch of Red Staple’s new ebook creation service, and in that post I also briefly mentioned several of Red Staple’s competitors (more details here). I forgot to mention one of the online services in that post, and I just caught a TOC session on it today.

Pressbooks hasn’t gotten much attention since it launched, but after my experiences today it became my immediate favorite.

This is the work of Hugh McGuire. It’s based on WordPress,which is good for me because I have so much experience with it. But this is also good for the novice because WordPress is at its core a publication tool. The original blog design took the text and images entered by an author and then displayed them automagically on a webpage.

The key detail here is that converting and displaying the content is automatic. If you write the correct scripts you can have the WordPress back end do just about anything – including make ebooks. And that’s what Pressbooks has done.

Their site is running a heavily modified version of WordPress which will let you add content by chapter or section. You can also define various parts of the front matter, including the copyright page preface, and more. Organizing and rearranging the content was easy, and a good part of the busywork (including things like the TOC) is automated.

Right now you can export Epub, PDF, and a raw form of XML. The PDF is intended to be  print ready file for POD systems. I suppose you could read it on your computer but that’s not the goal. The Epub output is specs compliant, and it supports embedded audio and video (but little else is supported from Epub3).

Full Epub3 support is coming, and they are looking at offering Kindle output.

Pressbooks is free for small publishers and the self-pubbed, but if you want to process dozens of titles at a time you will need to negotiate  license.

Go check it out.

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. […] enough that I keep wanting to ask the developers to fix it.I think I’d be better off with Pressbooks. This tool is built on top of WordPress, and I’m really beginning to appreciate […]

  2. Fabian Pedrero20 February, 2012

    let me introduce our project:

  3. Geordee Naliyath21 February, 2012

    I am trying to build one. Now I am wondering, should I open source it?

    The common issue I see in most is that they use TinyMCE. I guess I should be able to pull it off a bit better with WYMEditor.

  4. […] gave it a whirl.Pressbooks is a WordPress based tool which launched late last year and which I saw demoed at O’Reilly TOC. It was an impressive tool which I couldn’t get to work right at the time (during a noisy […]


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