Cannot select theme for books

Hello everyone,

We run a locally hosted Pressbooks installation (Pressbooks 5.8.2) and so far have not had many issues with setting everything up for our faculty members creating their materials.
Recently, we’ve upped our game (so to speak) and now have an issue that I’m not entirely sure how to address. Right now, on the Pressbooks site, we’re running the Aldine theme. For users who setup their own account under our Pressbooks site, however, they are unable to select one of the 21 themes we have installed for them to choose from. I cannot find a setting or configuration option that would allow them to select their own theme and am not sure how to address this issue. If this is a simple fix, I can definitely get it quickly fixed. Even if it requires some additional configuration, since we’ve set everything up ourselves, I’m sure I can get to what I need to get to.

Any assistance would be welcome!
Thank you.

Hi @UD_Reference – i think you’ll need to network activate/enable any of the themes you’d like to be available on individual books/sites. You can find that menu (if you log in as a super admin) at YOURNETWORKURL/wp-admin/network/themes.php

Hi @SteelWagstaff,

I’ve checked under our themes menu, looking at the Network Admin page, and selected all of them to be enabled at a network level. The option that I have on each of the themes right now is just ‘Network Disable’.
If I’m guessing about the issue, this probably means the option to enable the themes is not saved in configuration correctly somewhere on my server. Or something else might be going on.

EDIT: I’ve attached a screenshot of the page and a few of the themes to show what I see on the themes page.


Some of the themes it looks like you have installed aren’t Pressbook themes, but are instead WordPress themes. All of the Pressbooks supported themes are listed on this webpage: Ebook Formatting Styles & Themes | Pressbooks | Pressbooks

In the past, there have been other themes, but many of them have fallen out of support.

Not all of the Pressbooks themes are open source, because they keep some of them back as a premium service for their hosted clients. I do like 90% of my work in McLuhan or Jacobs. Part of the reason that I use McLuhan or Jacobs for most projects is because the book options and features in some of the older themes are a little inconsistent, and I like their styling anyway:

Mcluhan or “Book”- this is the base theme that must be installed. All other Pressbook themes are actually “Child themes” of Mcluhan




Austen Classic-



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hi @UD_Reference Ed Beck is exactly right. Thanks Ed! Here’s a two part introduction to how Pressbooks Themes work: Book Themes, Part 1: Frames and Pictures | Pressbooks + Book Themes, Part 2: What’s Buckram? | Pressbooks. They’re similar to, but different from general WordPress themes, in large part because they have to include instructions for styling not just the webbook, but ebook and PDF exports as well. This is why you can’t see or apply the WordPress themes you’ve found to your Pressbooks books.

If you’d like to develop your own Pressbooks themes, here’s a starter document for developers: Theme Development | Pressbooks Documentation – we’re recommend using McLuhan (Pressbook-book) and Buckram as a starting point for child themes.

If you’d like to learn more the premium (private) themes that are reserved for our EDU clients, feel free to contact our sales team for a demo/pricing for a Pressbooks-hosted network for your institution: For Educational Institutions | Pressbooks.

Hi @SteelWagstaff and @beckej ,

Thanks for clarifying that! It makes sense, now that I understand a bit more, that the primary site theme is what we have enabled on the Network Admin side of things and each of the Pressbooks themes are designated specifically for the books themselves.

I’ll have to fill in my colleague who also works with a few professors on the details regarding this.

Thank you for your help!

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