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Newbie Question: Benefits of Using Book Document?

Mar 14, 2013 11:08 AM

Tags: #import #book

I have a novel in MS Word. I've seen that I can get greatly improved typography if I import it to InDesign.

 

I notice that InDesign has a Book document. I can put each chapter of my novel into individual .indd files, and then include each of these files in the Book document. So far so good.

 

My novel is only 266 pages long, including front and back matter. Would it be easier to just use one single .indd file?

In other words, what are the benefits of using the Book document? 

 

Thanks very much in advance to all for any info.

 
Replies
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 14, 2013 11:27 AM   in reply to Vik_R

    Advantages to a Book:

     

    Faster scrolling (not that big an issue for ony 266 pages), safety (lose one chapter file and the rest are probably still OK), versatility (documents can be included in muyltiple Books, but watch for pagination and style changes when synching)

     

    Disadvantages:

     

    Inconvenience, more hassles in export to epub.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 14, 2013 11:52 AM   in reply to Peter Spier

    As a professional typesetter who is working on dozens of books a year in

    InDesign, most at least 200 pp long, many much longer, my advice is:

    Keep away from the InDesign book panel.

     

    It offers no advantages, only hassles: you need to keep track of syncing

    your paragraph styles; you need to be sure that the page numbering

    doesn't get messed up; you're constantly having to open and close files.

    It's a royal pain in the neck.

     

    Any computer that can run InDesign can cope very easily with a 200 or

    300 or 400 page document (unless it is loaded with graphics, cross

    links, GREP styles etc. etc., which a novel is not).

     

    To avoid any potential sluggishness, though, my only recommendation

    would be to make sure that each chapter is in it's own story. Try to

    avoid having the entire book threaded as a single, long, 200-page story

    and you'll be alright. In fact, on my current computer (i5 with 8 GB

    RAM) even that is no longer an issue.

     

    So -- stay away from InDesign book files.

     

    Oh, and I don't recall ever having an InDesign file go bad on me. Maybe

    I'm just lucky. But of course, regularly (once a day, or once every 2

    days or so), resave the file with a new name (01MyNovel, 02MyNovel) etc.

    That way, if your latest file gets corrupted, you'll have the previous

    version to fall back on. But again, I do not remember that happening,

    though sometimes it has been useful to be able to go back to an earlier

    version for other reasons.

     

    Ariel

    www.freelancebookdesign.com

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 14, 2013 11:57 AM   in reply to [Ariel]

    I forgot another reason to choose one file that Ariel touched on: Cross-Refernces. ID's native cross-refs are notoriously likely to break between documents. Again, this is not likely to be a problem in a novel, but if you use cross-refs, stay away from Books.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 14, 2013 12:14 PM   in reply to Vik_R

    My  two cents here. I inherited a 500 plus book to finish the formatting. It was all in one IDD. I had no issues handling just one file. When I needed to make one change through the whole book (say check for two spaces and replace with one) it was pretty easy. Also no problem exporting it to PDF for printing or to Kindle for ebook  (just tested it for ePub and it worked fine). Then I had to do the translation to another language and decided to do it chapter by chapter using ID book.  I like it that you have your chapters neatly separated and once you get used to it you might like it. In terms of exporting to PDF or ebook there’s no difference with having it only in one file. But I always wondered why the original formatting was done in just one file. I guess now I have my answer from the pros! 

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 14, 2013 12:49 PM   in reply to [Ariel]

    Arïel's advice is spot-on.  I am adding some comments only for the benefit of the people who might find this thread in the future.

     

    It's occasionally to my advantage to share out chapter files of a long doc in a Book file to a number of InDesign operators, so we can complete a large project collaboratively in a very short amount of time. Each time I look at myself in the mirror and say, "Would I rather use a Book file, or pull an all-nighter and do the whole thing myself?" I feel I've been pretty lucky, in that only once has a team-effort Book file project blown up in my face and required the all-nighter anyways - I spent the night rebuilding the Book file over and over again, trying to get it to paginate correctly.

     

    To avoid any potential sluggishness, though, my only recommendation

    would be to make sure that each chapter is in it's own story. Try to

    avoid having the entire book threaded as a single, long, 200-page story

    and you'll be alright. In fact, on my current computer (i5 with 8 GB

    RAM) even that is no longer an issue.

     

    This is absolutely true of your book, Vik. I've handled a variety of handbooks, manuals, and other kinds of document that had complicated formatting (tables and charts and dozens of text frames with variables and xrefs and No Break and etc.) at the end of the book - in those cases it was to my advantage to keep that complicated stuff in a separate story so that when I was re-ragging chapter 1, the stuff in Appendix B wasn't constantly re-flowing and bogging down my machine. But a novel? Any decent machine with specs like Ariel's could handle a longer story than that.

     

    Oh, and I don't recall ever having an InDesign file go bad on me. Maybe I'm just lucky

    Yup, you're lucky. OTOH, I bet that you don't have very many clients who revise their books 4x per year, who have been using the same file since PageMaker 5.0.

     
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