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Book Designing using BookSmart

Back in 2004 or 2005, I started working on a family history book that I decided to publish through Blurb.com. Genealogy is one of my favorite hobbies and I thought it would be the best way to share the information with interested family members.

At the time, there was no Adobe InDesign plug-in offered, only the BookSmart software.  Of course, as what happens with personal projects, it got put on the back burner because other matters took precedence.  Jump ahead seven years, and I decided I HAD to finish this project.  I still had the original BookSmart document and – miracle of miracles – the latest BookSmart software recognized the saved document and opened it up!

Blurb.com
Blurb.com

Today, there is a InDesign plug-in so I had a decision to make.  I debated – do I continue using the BookSmart software or start over in InDesign?  I decided to stick with the BookSmart software since I was too lazy to start over. Of course, I didn’t think my targeted 50-page book would balloon to 220 pages!   If I knew then what I know now, I would have made a completely different choice.

Honestly, I think the software is perfectly acceptable and appropriate for the vast majority of users.  Overall, a good free software.  My #1 complaint is the control over fonts and text – unfortunately there is very little.

Font selection is minimal and I understand why end-user fonts are not supported.  But there are basic font capabilities that are missing and/or severely limited in this program.

  • No Leading!
  • No Kerning!
  • Character and Paragraph styles and the ability to name styles.  (the standard styles offered do not even begin to fill the void.)
  • Better auto text flow.  The current auto text flow is NOT good, especially if you need to change things.
  • No superscript or subscript option

Better font control – that’s what this software needs.

Here’s a not-so basic complaint of the software:

  • EPS is not supported.  Using PNGs in place of EPS is does not provide the same result – quality suffers.

Also, I can’t tell you how many times the software crashed while I was using it.  It’s funny, I can run – at the same time – Photoshop CS5.5, Illustrator CS5.5, InDesign CS5.5, a couple of different browsers, and Outlook on my laptop with no problems. If I want to use BookSmart, I have to close everything otherwise the software crashes.  Of course it crashes anyway, just not as often.

While I will never use the software again, I think it’s appropriate for those who know little or nothing about design.

Fortunately, I’m in the final proof stage.  Once I get that done, I’ll submit it. I can’t wait to see the final printed piece.

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