A Book is nothing more than an aggregation of multiple document files. The only thing you see when you open one is the Book panel. If starting a new one you will get an empty Book panel and it's up to you to add documents to it as they are created.
Once listed inthe panel, you can double-click any document to open it for editing.
So you open and construct a document, say the Introduction, or Title Page, or other pieces of your book, then save it to the book panel to open later to work on? BTW, thanks for your patience with an old lady!
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I'm sure you probably have some confusion about this because most of us think of a book as an object created from a manuscript. In InDesign you can make a single long document that contains everything for your book ( a single .indd file), or you can create multiple files for logical chunks, lile front matter and individual chapters, which you then combine into a Book (.indb file).
There are pros and cons to both methods. A single file keeps everything together and works better with cross-refernces, if you use them, but can be a pain to scroll through and you risk losing everything if something goes wrong (ALWAYS keep backup copies of yoru files). Multiple files organized in Book let you open and edit only a small piece so performance is enhanced, and a disaster is less likely to destroy more than a single chunk, but cross-refs are flakey betwen files and it's more difficult to keep things coordinated.
Up to 100 pages or so, I'd probably stick with a single file without a second thought. 300 or more I'd probably break up and make a Book.
Documents are always saved as documents. Once they exist they can be added to or removed from a Book. Saving is done inside the document when you edit, adding or removing documents is done inthe Book panel, and whenyou close the Book panel it will ask you to save the Book (.indb file) which just locks in the current state of things like page numbering and which documents are in the Book.
Thanks so much Peter. I may come back at you later after I've given this approach a whirl. At last I can at least begin this project, which I was unable to do before.