From BookSmart to InDesign
I’ve created several books using BookSmart and PhotoShop.
I plan to do several more in the coming months, and I am testing InDesign and trying to decide if the $700 will be money well spent. I’d appreciate any comments from users of InDesign.
I too created quite a few books using BookSmart/Photoshop/Lightroom, and I’m now working ona book using InDesign. What "drove" me to InDesign for this particular book is that it has a lot of text that I needed to flow from page to page among photographs, and BookSmart just doesn’t do this in any reasonable way.
I’m not a design professional, but I AM a very serious amateur and pretty good with digital media software. I found the learning curve for InDesign to be reasonably steep, but doable. I used the videos I found on the Kelby Training website to learn the program (I have a subscription) and that was very helpful. There are also training videos on the Adobe website. Now that I’ve gotten fairly comfortable with the program I am finding it fantastic in terms of the flexibility for designs. Things i love: being able to flow the text, which it excels at; being able to go back and forth from Photoshop to InDesign to tweak photos without having to go through the whole BookSmart re-importing process; more flexibility with styles for text – you can have as many styles as you want and you can have things like initial drop caps and I can use my OpenType fonts (I am on Windows and BookSmart doesn’t recognize OpenType fonts in Windows); more flexibility with the photos – you can have them in any shape and round the corners on the rectangular ones, and tilt them, etc; the ability to tweak the layout on the page itself, without going back and forth to the Edit Layout view in BookSmart; more flexibility to incorporate design elements into your master page backgrounds; the guides let you know when things are lined up on the page automatically, and you can have the space between a number of photos automatically be evenly distributed; the text wraps around any shape of photo or other object on the page (if you want it to); …
Well, I could go on for a while like this, but it’s tremendously flexible and I find it lots of fun to work with now that I’m comfortable with the program (fully recognizing that I am only skimming the surface so far on what it’s capable of).
The downsides: It’s more complicated and you have to learn the software – it can be a bit quirky and very frustrating when you can’t get it to do what you want, and I definitely spend some time with a manual or two; there are no pre-set layouts, so every page is essentially a blank page in front of you. You can make your own "master page" layouts, of course, but sometimes that complete flexibility is a bit daunting. The fact that you CAN tweak everything so easily means that I tend to do more tweaking, and so some things will take a lot longer as I fuss with them (whichis not necessarily a downside unless you have a deadline).
All in all if you like working with this kind of software, it’s a fabulous program and you will enjoy it, but I think for me, if I was doing a relatively simple photo book I would probably go back to using BookSmart, but for anything more complex, ESPECIALLY if there’s a significant amount of text, I would definitely use InDesign.
By the way, if you are a member of NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals) you can get a 15% discount on any Adobe products, which is > $100 off on the price of InDesign (and the cost of NAPP membership is $100 for a year, so it would pay for itself immediately).
Rona, Thanks for the very complete summary of your experience with InDesign, particularly