By Hannah Johnson
There is an interesting post on the O’Reilly Tools of Change Blog today by Hugh McGuire about using WordPress as a book publishing platform. McGuire is the co-founder of Book Oven, which “helps teams of people turn manuscripts into finished books, and then publish them.” Basically, it provides an online environment for editing and producing a book.
What McGuire notes in his article is WordPress can already do many of things that Book Oven can do, but WordPress is a free, open source platform that anyone can use. It has a worldwide network of developers and is easy to use. With a few plugins, he says, WordPress could be turned into a cloud-based publishing platform.
WordPress can already export text in various formats (including HTML and XML) and the editing process can be public or private based on various permission settings.
What is interesting about this idea is that WordPress is actually a very scalable platform. You can have unlimited authors, editors, administrators and users. With WordPress MU, you can even install an infinite number of individual blogs within a single system (WordPress.com runs on WordPress MU, which is available to regular users). A few modifications and hacks could make it viable as a content management system and publishing platform for even the bigger houses.
I wonder if something like this will catch on. I can certainly see it working for smaller and startup publishers. Imagine not having to print out copy after copy of a manuscript! But the larger publishers would probably rather trust their most valuable assets to an established CMS designed specifically for book publishing rather than to a free, open source platform that has been hacked to suit their needs. It would also require publishing staff to learn a new system, which costs time and money. On the other hand, WordPress is free and presumably, the necessary plugins to turn it into a publishing platform would be relatively inexpensive compared to existing CMS systems that publishers now use.
As a big fan of WordPress, I definitely plan to keep an eye on this idea and see how it develops.