On O’Reilly’s Tools of Change blog, Hugh McGuire—the co-developer of the Book Oven on-line content management system for publishing, among other things—explains why a better publishing platform might actually be made from WordPress, of all things.
McGuire started Book Oven with the goal of building books “in the cloud”, so that online collaboration would be easier, and the book would be more portable to different devices. But while pitching his system he encountered suggestions that “It would be great to have a tool that’s as easy to use as WordPress.”
That started him thinking. WordPress is familiar to most writers who blog, stable, open-source, and infinitely customizable. And pre-existing plugins already do much of what a book-publishing system would need.
But the system is more than just theoretical—it turns out that the Master of Publishing class at Simon Fraser University put together such a WordPress-based system and used it to create The Book of MPub, a collection of student essays available as a print-on-demand book or freely downloadable in PDF and EPUB formats.
A WordPress-based tool does have a number of advantages, including being open-source based (though the MPub students did also tie their system into the professional package InDesign for crafting the printed book), economical, and easy to learn to use. Hannah Johnson at Publishing Perspectives wonders whether its perceived “hacked-together” nature might be a turn-off to larger publishers, however.