New Features

New Themes, Nanowrimo Special

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Dear PressBookers,

This is a boggy version of the PressBooks November 2013 newsletter.

Happy November, happy (inter)National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo)!, from all of us at PressBooks.

I hope all is going well in the land of writing & book-making. We’ve got some news, features, special promos, and a few other things for you. Here’s what you can find below:

  1. New themes: Bronte, Dillard, Dillard Plain, Jackson, Leonard
  2. Nanowrimo special discount: Free theme design!
  3. University of Minnesota Press: Forerunners (powered by PressBooks!)
  4. Books in Browsers presentation
  5. What’s going on with PressBooks anyway?
  6. Found on the web

1. New themes: Leonard, Jackson, Dillard, Dillard Plain, Bronte

If we have one objective in life, it’s to give anyone (publishers and authors) the ability to make beautiful books (ebooks and print books). We spend particular attention on making beautiful print outputs (PDF files that can be used in Print-on-Demand). And then we adapt those designs to look good on all ebook platforms (for Kindle, Apple, Kobo, Nook, and other ebook platforms).

So, in our continuing quest to help people make beautiful books, we have just released 5 new themes. This makes a baker’s dozen of free themes in the PressBooks platform, with many more in the works.

The new themes can be found here.

They are:

  • Leonard: a hard-edged theme for hard-boiled crime, mystery, and thrillers.
  • Jackson: a versatile theme that should work well with fiction and nonfiction alike.
  • Dillard: an airy theme for literary fiction, personal memoirs, romance.
  • Dillard Plain: similar to Dillard, but minus some of the design flourishes.
  • Bronte: Built for wind-swept romances, literary novels, and historical fiction.

You can log in to PressBooks right now and export your books using these new themes to see what they look like.

And, if you have need of a particular kind of theme that you don’t see in PressBooks, please contact us.

NOTE: We have tested all of these themes extensively, in PDF and EPUB & MOBI, but if you see any problems with any of them (or any of our themes), please send me an email:

2. Nanowrimo special!: Get a FREE theme designed to your specifications! (Value: $1,000 – $3,500!)

For a limited time, until the end of November, a limited number of clients purchasing a $300 full-service-conversion package will also get a (simple) theme designed to their specifications. We normally charge between $1000 and $3500 (or more) for custom theme design, but you’ll get a custom theme for free! If you are interested, contact us at and put “Nanowrimo Special Theme” in your subject line.

NOTE/DISCLAIMER: As they used to say on Television… “while quantities last” … meaning, please contact us sooner rather than later. We can offer this special only to a limited number of clients. First come, first served!

3. University of Minnesota Press: Forerunners

University of Minnesota Press has launched a new series, Forerunners, “Original e-works to spark the spread of new scholarship.” They’ve chosen PressBooks as the production tool that helps them get their books out faster and cheaper, while still looking marvellous.

We’re very excited about this new initiative here at PressBooks. We have long advocated using new technologies such as ours to start exploring new models of publishing. Forerunners is a promising example of new thinking in the (let’s face it!) rather conservative world of academic publishing. We’ll keep you posted on how things develop.

4. Books in Browsers presentation

I gave a talk recently about our experience at PressBooks, and the nuts and bolts of making books (especially print books) out of CSS and HTML. Those interested can find the talk here:

5. What’s going on at PressBooks, anyway?

For those of you interested in the wider world of PressBooks, I thought I would offer some comments on where we are today, where we are focusing, and what you can expect to see in the coming months.

Full-service conversion

We recently introduced a full-service conversion package for authors and publishers who like using PressBooks, but want help getting their books into PressBooks, exported, and looking great.

PressBooks is easy to use, but for great results, you do need to make sure your book is set up right, and we’re very good at doing that quickly! If you are interested in full-service conversion support, please contact us:

New Themes

Our big product focus in the next few months will be continuing to add new themes, so that whatever kind of book you’d like to publish, we have a design for you to use that will make you happy. Our outputs of PDF, EPUB, and MOBI should always look good (if they don’t, please let us know).

Since August, we’ve added eleven new themes, with many more in the pipeline. If you are looking for something in particular, please contact


One thing we get asked about often is support for EPUB3. This is something we’ve been circling around for a while, and we continue to peck away at it. So it’s on the horizon, but not immediate. Work is being done in our open source community, with Brad Payne (again!) and Wendell Norman doing the hard yards there.

Distribution? Print-on-demand?

We’ve looked at helping our users distribute their books into ebook stores and get their PDFs into Print-on-demand services.

For the moment, we prefer to point our users to good partners on that front, though my may end up with an integrated system in the future. Only time, as they say, will tell.

Is this something you would like? Let us know!

6. Found on the web

Finally, we spend lots of time thinking about the future of publishing here at PressBooks worldwide headquarters, and this usually means spending a fair bit of time reading, both books and the web. Here are some things we’ve found lately that you might enjoy:

How To Self-Publish A Bestseller: Publishing 3.0 (James Altucher).

Great thoughts on publishing from one of the most interesting “bloggers” around these days (are people still called bloggers?).

Favourite line: “By the way, if you self-publish, always do a print book at the very least. Even if 99 percent of your sales are going to be e-book.”

John Berger, Ways of Seeing (BBC Books/Pelican, 1972)

A short note on the book that accompanied John Berger’s 1972 BBC series, “Ways of Seeing.”

Favorite line: “While the digital may be destabilizing print, it is interesting to consider the reverse scenario: print stabilizing digital.” (!).

RIP Doris Lessing

Doris Lessing died this week, and aside from her wonderful writing, she will be remembered for perhaps the best response ever uttered to news of winning the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Favorite line: “Oh, Christ.”

That’s all for now!

That’s it from PressBooks central. Drop us a line if you’ve got something to say.

Best, Hugh & the PressBooks team.

t. 514.464.2047