PressBooks, that incredible WordPress plugin that helps authors create ebooks, PDFs, and web-based books with a few clicks has announced that they are going completely open source with a full GPL 2.0 license.
It’s been in the works for quite some time and many have wondered when it was going to drop (if ever) but Hugh McGuire has silenced those critics a few weeks ago with his announcement.
The reason? Simple:
For book publishing to evolve to fully embrace digital, we need open tools that allow for experimentation with new technologies, and new models, business and otherwise.
We are building PressBooks to be the best tool with which to explore this future.
It’s truly in the spirit of collaboration and making sure that the very best software can be realized with even more opportunities for clever and smart individuals to contribute to core.
You can go ahead and get the code from their Google Code page.
Remember, if you’re going to try this then installing a fresh WordPress MU install is the best strategy – don’t try on another existing site!
What they will do in the near future is begin to add premium features that will help finance the overall operation – a model that’s very familiar to many WordPress-centric businesses. As TechCrunch reports, this move towards OSS will actually have a much better financial return as a result:
“My very first conception of PressBooks was as an open source tool. As we started building I changed course, for a few reasons: unless I could see a clear business case to open source, I wasn’t ready to do it, we had a focus on trying to make a great tool — and before pressbooks was great, I wasn’t sure I wanted it out in the world as OSS.”
“What changed was coming to the realization that our existing business model wasn’t flying: we have a decent number of self-publishers using PressBooks, and a handful of commercial publishers using it — but you need huge volume to make the self-pub route work; and the vast majority of commercial publishers are just not ready to make the radical step towards something like PressBooks.”
Smart move. I think this will really allow it to truly become the best CMS for books available.