Inkling Habitat may have gotten all the hype last week, but it wasn't the only online ebook creation tool launched at TOC. Booktype also launched last week. I couldn't get to it until today, but I'm pleased with what I've seen so far.
Booktype is the latest project of SourceFabric, a Czech non-for-profit. This developer is new to me, but that's mainly because I've never needed to use any large scale collaboration tools, which is SourceFabric's specialty.
So I've been playing with Booktype, and I have found 3 reasons to like it over Habitat. It's open source, format agnostic, and (unlike Habitat) you can start using Booktype today.
I'm probably never going to use it much; it's intended for collaboration, not the single user. But I can see that it is well designed for collaboration. There's version tracking, windows for both recent and current activities, shared notes, and status tags for each chapter and section ( new, needs content, completed, to be proofed).
You can add content to a book via copy&paste, typing it in, and uploading files. It has a fairly complete text editor with all the formatting options I would expect. You can also import a chapter from another book on the same Booktype installation.
Speaking of which, Booktype is open-source. You can in fact download the source and set up your Booktype installation on your own server. I have no need to, but I can see how a publisher might want to run Booktype internally.
Output includes ebook (Kindle, Epub, and iPad), Lulu, POD-ready, and text. There re bunch of options for font size, page size, margins, and more.
So I've tried it, and Booktype is not for me. I don't have the need to collaborate, but more importantly I find the editing interface confusing. It looks enough like the standard WordPress menu layout that I'm stumped by the differences. It also behaves different 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 it.