How to Create Your Own Pressbooks Site for Authoring E-Textbooks

I just did this today on my lunch break. I thought I would need some time to figure it out, but it took far less time than convincing my cat to come back inside before I returned to work. While it is fresh on my mind, I want to write down the steps, as much to remind myself later as to share them with other people. If someone comes along who can benefit from this, that’s just gravy.

  1. You need a self-hosted WordPress account. You can’t do this on WordPress.com. If that’s what you are using forget about setting up your own Pressbooks site, and just go to Pressbooks.com to create an account there.
  2. You need a fresh installation of WordPress MU. You can’t refurbish on old blog into a Pressbooks site. You are going to convert the entire site from a blogging platform into an ebook authoring platform. You need to have done absolutely nothing to your new installation before you start this process.
  3. You can choose the MU (multi-user) option in WordPress 4.3.1 during the installation. It will ask if you want to create a network, and you need to click yes on that option.
  4. Once you have it installed, go to the universal dashboard, and click on Plugins and Install New.
  5. Install the Pressbooks Plugin.
  6. Install the Pressbooks Textbooks Plugin.
  7. That’s it. You’re done.
  8. Happy ebook authoring!

The advantage of installing your own own Pressbooks site over using Pressbooks.com is that you can export an unlimited number of books without having to pay extra fees. You also have no limits on file sizes (unless they are imposed by your web hosting account).

WordPress and Pressbooks are both open source, so if you already have a web-hosting account, the installations will not cost anything. If you do not have your own account, and you want to use this to create materials for your own classes or to have students create class projects, consider asking your school’s IT people to install a Pressbooks site on your school server. Just be aware of the fact that in that case there may be some question about whether the materials you create belong to your school or to you.

Pressbooks is a great tool for creating and formatting ebooks. For WordPress users, the layout and functionality will be intuitive. It offers a variety of export options, including epub, mobi, pdf, and others. In addition, it creates a website for each book so that the books can be read online and/or downloaded straight from your own website.

Pressbooks Textbooks adds extra functionality to a Pressbooks site specifically designed for textbooks. For example, it has a math equations option and an ebook annotations option. It also provides open book copyright and sharing buttons to make it super easy for educators to make their materials free to other educators.

I’ve explored a number of options for ebook authoring with textbooks in mind, and as of today, this is by far my favorite.

My book site is here: http://sgerald.net/books/

There is nothing on it yet. I said that I installed the site on my lunch break today, not that I wrote a book. I will need a few more lunch breaks to make that happen.

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