I am looking for a web-based, open source book publishing application.

I basically want a web-based application that will allow users to design and export books in PDF or EPUB format.

  • 1
    What features do you need? E.g. embedding (resized/optimized) pictures, videos, sound files, DRM stuff, formatting, auto-TOC generation (based on headers)? What's the price limit? Must it allow for commercial use?
    – Izzy
    Commented Jul 19, 2016 at 10:08
  • It doesn't have to be anything specific - just a web-based book publishing application. Commented Jul 19, 2016 at 19:55
  • 1
    Well, it does have to be a little more specific for us to recommend something. What's definitely missing is: what input format? What do you mean by "design"? Must it have an editor where your users write things up, or should it convert existing documents? What's the intended workflow?
    – Izzy
    Commented Jul 19, 2016 at 20:11
  • Something like canva.com or joomag.com Commented Jul 19, 2016 at 21:23
  • 1
    Asking for "something like X" is never giving enough details, even if linked. You should always list your requirements explicitly. Please see How to ask for an alternative to some software and the questions linked to it for details. You can't expect people to consult external resources just to figure what you're asking for. No offense meant, but that's how this site works.
    – Izzy
    Commented Jul 19, 2016 at 21:25

2 Answers 2


I would recommend GitBook.

GitBook is a command line tool (and Node.js library) for building beautiful books using GitHub/Git and Markdown (or AsciiDoc).

You can publish your book via GitBook (web-based) or desktop editor (provided by GitBook). There are some features that supported by GitBook:

  • Output as a website or e-book (.pdf, .epub, .mobi)
  • Multi-languages
  • Lexicon/glossary
  • Cover
  • Variables and templating
  • Content references
  • Plugins
  • Themes

GitBook is an open source software that released under Apache License version 2.0. You can check the source code here.

Before you decide this software as your choice, I want to give some considerations. GitBook requires user to understand Markdown, Git, and basic web programming. Basic programming like HTML and CSS, perhaps JavaScript, is required when the users design the theme of book. The important thing before you start please read GitBook documentation.

Edit: after reread your comment, you need a web-based software that user can design the book theme drag and drop. GitBook is not right choice for this since this software requires basic web programming.

  • Shokatsu Ryo - thank you so much. It may not be the best choice, but it's something. I really appreciate your answer! Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 2:40

While it might represent something of a learning curve, one possibility would be to use an online LaTeX editor/compiler.

N.b. These are not "self-hosted" options. See also this TeX.SE Q&A on using LaTeX for epub production.

  1. Overleaf

    This is a widely used, well known service. It has a rich set of templates, including one with directions for epub export.


  1. Papeeria

    One advantage to this service is that it allows users to write in Markdown, which might mitigate any perceived drawback to learning LaTeX. (N.b., this is for "simple documents", but again -- it could suffice).



  • Both of these services offer free plans which could suffice for the projects OP has in mind.
  • Both also allow for collaborative editing -- although quite what OP has in mind with "will allow users to design and export books" isn't clear to me.
  • Both include a range of document templates, including a variety of "book" formats.
  • Both offer useful tutorials and helps, both for LaTeX itself, and for their own online services.

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