The ink is limited during a conversion to CMYK, so once the conversion happens simply assigning a new CMYK profile won't change values. Ideally you want to use the correct profile as your assigned document profile and to make any conversions to CMYK. If the printer expects you to make CMYK conversions, they should provide the correct profile. This is why in most cases it's better to place RGB because the conversion to the correct profile can happen on export
I see! Yes everything in the indesign file was already in CMYK, which would explain why conversion didn't work. The profile in Indesign actually did preview the correct final colors, but the output/conversion did not work.
Unfortunately, it seems like my only choice with our current set up was to convert all the images in the file manually as well as create my own black swatch which I could customize (this seems to be a standard practice anyway). I also noticed that I could have loaded up all of the individual exports into photoshop to convert them after the fact, but this would definitely be a bad workflow, as it would require each page's proof to be re-converted every time it had to be updated in indesign.
Is it typical to design to print in RGB colors then convert to the printer CMYK profile on export? It guess just seems counter-intuitive to me to design in a color space that is an 'opposite' of the final product. We use a lot of photography, and our main concern would be losing the color accuracy of those images or of our advertiser's artwork.
Is it typical to design to print in RGB colors then convert to the printer CMYK profile on export?
The image files originate as RGB somewhere (camera or scanner) right? Adobe's applications all use the same color management. You would get the same output values on a conversion to CMYK in Photoshop, on export, or at print (assuming the profiles, color intent, and black point compensation are the same). So your problem is typical when the commitment to a CMYK space is made early (in Photoshop). If you place RGB you can change your mind about the destination profile and make the correct CMYK conversion when you export.
Is the book printing on uncoated paper? Most coated profiles are 300+