24 Book Cloning

There are many instances where you would like to clone or copy a book from an existing Pressbooks catalog into your own. For example, you see an Open Textbook that you would like to adapt for your upcoming course.

If your institution has a standalone Pressbooks network, you can use the new cloning feature to create a copy of this book and directly begin editing it in a newly-created Pressbooks shell. This chapter will cover:

  • Use cases for cloning a book
  • How to clone a book from Pressbooks
  • Future plans for the feature

Previously, copying an existing Pressbooks book required you to export it as a Pressbooks XML file, then import it into a new Pressbooks shell. However, the cloning feature simplifies this process considerably.

Note: this feature is only available on standalone Pressbooks networks (i.e. not Pressbooks.com). (Contact us if you’re interested in a Pressbooks EDU system for you.)

What are the possible uses of cloning?

Cloning allows authors, editors, and readers to easily copy and begin editing a book for their own needs. This enables all sorts of uses for open education resources, as well as some practical ones for institutional users.

With this feature:

  • Instructors can duplicate and immediately begin adapting books specifically for their classrooms
  • Course syllabi can be replicated and updated each semester, leaving previous versions intact
  • Universities can share and disseminate their research and books easily with other institutions for quick adoption and adaptation.

How do I clone a book?

If your network has the cloning feature enabled, you can clone any Pressbooks book that is:

  1. Made public on the web
  2. Licensed with a Creative Commons license that allows derivatives (so excluding ‘all rights reserved’ content and no-derivatives (ND) licensed content)

If you try to clone a book that doesn’t meet these criteria, you will receive an error. If the book you want to clone does meet the criteria above, you can follow these steps to create your copy:

  1. On your Pressbooks dashboard, hover over  “My Catalog” and click on “Clone a Book”.

    The cloning interface

  2. Enter the the Source Book URL (the URL of the book you would like to copy). Make sure that the book is both public and licensed to allow remixing. If the book is private, or carries a “No Derivatives” license or is “All Rights Reserved”, you will receive an error message when attempting to clone the book.

    This is the book I would like to clone

  3. Enter the Target Book URL (the URL for your new version of the book.) You will be able to edit and export the book from this URL. Note that it cannot be changed later – we recommend using the new book’s title.
  4. Click on Clone It! and watch the magic happen!
  5. Once the process is complete, click on the new book’s title to be redirected to the dashboard, or enter the new URL to navigate to the book homepage.

    Cloning success message

What’s next for cloning?

Currently, users can clone individual books that are public and openly-licensed in their entirety, but our talented dev team will soon be making improvements to the feature. In future, you will be able to:

  • Clone an entire collection of books (from your network or an external Pressbooks network)
  • Clone select portions of a book (certain chapters, for instance)

This added functionality makes it easier to not only adapt and remix books from other networks, but also combine them to create collections of content that meet your needs! Watch this space.

If you have any questions about this feature, contact us!

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