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Single InDesign file for soft-cover and hard-cover books?

Community Beginner ,
Jan 05, 2024 Jan 05, 2024

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Hello Friends. I the past, I had one InDesign file for my softcover book, and another file for the hardcover of the same book. The two InDesign files are identical, except for some measurements. For my new books, I'm thinking, there may be a way to have only one InDesign file that covers both options. Did you run into sumething like this, do you have any ideas how this can be accomplished? Thanks a lot.

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How to , InCopy workflow , Print

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Community Beginner , Jan 05, 2024 Jan 05, 2024

I was just rereading your precious messages, to try to grasp things. How about, a single spread, for the paperback, then, a script that changes the dimensions, to make it hardcover. Won't that work?

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Community Expert ,
Jan 05, 2024 Jan 05, 2024

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Hi @Talal-Itani , If either the hardcover or the softcover have a spine, it would probably be easier for the printer to get a separate document for the cover. The interior text pages will need to be imposed and it’s not likely the cover will print with the imposed signatures, but check with your printer

 

If the binding is saddle stitch and is a self cover—cover is on the same paper as the interior—then you would want to include the cover with the text pages.

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Community Expert ,
Jan 05, 2024 Jan 05, 2024

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Hi @Talal-Itani , Sorry I read your post too fast and thought you were referring to the covers. What are the measurements that are different? Do the interiors have a different trim size?

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Community Beginner ,
Jan 05, 2024 Jan 05, 2024

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Hello @rob day Yes, the interior is the same. It's the same book. Yet the cover for the hardcover has a slightly bigger spine, and slightly bigger front and back. The artwork is the same, and I'll be sending two different PDFs. One PDF for the cover of the softcover, and nother for the cover of the hardcover. I thought, I can have one InDesign file, from which I can generate both PDFs. 

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Community Expert ,
Jan 05, 2024 Jan 05, 2024

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I would think you should send a single file for the interior, and provide two additional files for the covers—I would assume they have different spine and cover dimensions?

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Community Expert ,
Jan 05, 2024 Jan 05, 2024

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The short answer is yes, you could design a single layout that would work for both softcover (trade paperback) and hardcover (wrap on boards). (I don't think you could do a single file for both softcover and a dust jacket, though.)

 

To be honest, I don't think it's a good idea or that there's much advantage to it. If you want to keep one source file for consistency of layout, content, images, etc., then have two pages, one sized and optimized for softcover, the other for hardcover wrap. Use the three-page spread model and, ideally, a background image that does not require precise horizontal placement (such as color breaks meant to go right on the spine edges).

 

But you could do one file, one page for both by using the page size (actually, the 3-page spread size) for softcover and either bleed or slug extensions to expand the size for hardcover wrap. This will require background images or elements that extend to the limits of the bleed or slug, while not losing any design or content value when trimmed to the page size. Most likely, the HC layout will need about one half inch additional top and bottom, and about an inch in total width — but work very closely to your print service's given template sizes and dimensions.

 

The other issue will be spine thickness, which is about ten percent thicker or so for hardcover. It's easy enough to center content on the spine page, but allowing for the extra width and for things like cover flex gutters (1/8 inch or so between the spine edge and the start of cover content, basically needed on HC only), the front and rear cover art really should be moved out from the spine to accommodate. You can do a design that is tolerant of spine variations, but it will have a varying look on each edition.

 

I'd really recommend using one file, two pages, optimized page+bleed sizes for each layout, though.


╟ Word & InDesign to Kindle & EPUB: a Guide to Pro Results (Amazon) ╢

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Community Beginner ,
Jan 05, 2024 Jan 05, 2024

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Now I'm thinking, a single 3-page layout, with a script, or something, that resizes things. Basically, resize, generate a PDF. Then resize, generate the other PDF. The advantage for me, consistency, a single layout.

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Community Expert ,
Jan 05, 2024 Jan 05, 2024

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This will only work (within reasonable notions of 'a script') if none of the cover design elements need to be modified or moved. And a script isn't needed to have the two output sizes, using bleed or slug for the difference.

 

But you have only two choices: use a cover design that will fit either layout, with things like the title and author info towards the center of the page so that distances from the margins won't be noticeable/unattractive, or use two completely separate pages with the cover elements adjusted for each size.

 

A combination (manual or scripted) could be used to change the spine size and move the cover panels, and toggle the extra wrap margins on and off... but really, unless you're going to turn this into a production process for many books, one of the two options above (toggle margin on and off, or two pages in the cover layout file) are vastly less hassle.


╟ Word & InDesign to Kindle & EPUB: a Guide to Pro Results (Amazon) ╢

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Community Beginner ,
Jan 05, 2024 Jan 05, 2024

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Yes, maybe this is too complicated. Probably, it's best to have two separate InDesign files. I have four books. Not hundreds.

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Community Expert ,
Jan 05, 2024 Jan 05, 2024

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You don't need separate ID files. You can have multiple page (and spread) sizes in a single file, if you wish, and even have both covers and the interior pages in a single INDD file.

 

Because of the different workflows, though, I'd keep the interior pages in one INDD file, and the covers in a second. Using one file for both covers is efficient and helps keep both versions in sync as to component images, quick edits, etc.


╟ Word & InDesign to Kindle & EPUB: a Guide to Pro Results (Amazon) ╢

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Community Beginner ,
Jan 05, 2024 Jan 05, 2024

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Ok. I see. Surely, the inferiors are in their own files.

 

Each cover has 3 pages. Would that mean this single file will have 6 pages? Also, will the items on the pages be repeated, or, can things be inserted from a common place?

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Community Expert ,
Jan 05, 2024 Jan 05, 2024

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If you use the 3-page cover construction, the cover file would technically have 3 pages, but in two spreads.

 

You could get tricky with Parent page elements that would be then shared to each cover layout, but it's probably best to make each its own standalone layout. That means you'll use most elements twice in the file.


╟ Word & InDesign to Kindle & EPUB: a Guide to Pro Results (Amazon) ╢

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Community Beginner ,
Jan 05, 2024 Jan 05, 2024

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I was just rereading your precious messages, to try to grasp things. How about, a single spread, for the paperback, then, a script that changes the dimensions, to make it hardcover. Won't that work?

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Community Expert ,
Jan 05, 2024 Jan 05, 2024

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There are three or four different approaches outlined in this thread.

 

Yes, a script could be used to modify the layout back and forth between the paperback and hardcover versions, but I can't think of a reason why that would be a sensible approach (unless, as noted, it was the basis for managing dozens or hundreds of covers). Simply having two different layouts, in separate files or on separate pages, is probably best. A single page layout that uses bleed or slug to add and remove the extra material for hard cover wrap is simpler but would impose some limits on the cover design. But there's no justification for the complexity of a dynamic layout, rewritten with a script for what is likely two one-time export operations.


╟ Word & InDesign to Kindle & EPUB: a Guide to Pro Results (Amazon) ╢

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Community Beginner ,
Jan 05, 2024 Jan 05, 2024

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I'm a software developer, yet I use InDesign once or twice a year. So, writing the script would be my preferred method. That way, if I change the cover design, text, images, dimension, in have to do it only once.

 

The script would just take me from paperback to hardcover. Then, I save the PDF of the hardcover, then I ignore the  changes (revert to paperback.) What do you think?

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Community Expert ,
Jan 05, 2024 Jan 05, 2024

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No offence, but the fact that you are a software developer - I assume JavaScript - but without good knowledge of InDesign + good knowledge of scripting side of InDesign - won't help you much.

 

And as you've mentioned - you have 4x books - it will be way faster for you to just do two separate INDD files for covers for each book. 

 

Unless, of course, the scripting part would be the main reason for this exercise. 

 

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Community Beginner ,
Jan 06, 2024 Jan 06, 2024

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Yes, sure, I agree. I'll have to learn how to control InDesign. And thanks for your assistance.

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Community Expert ,
Jan 06, 2024 Jan 06, 2024

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You are welcome. 

 

When you start your scripting adventure with InDesign - we are here to help. 

 

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Community Expert ,
Jan 06, 2024 Jan 06, 2024

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You would probably benefit from an understanding of Maslow's Hammer. 🙂

 

Put more plainly, just because you are used to scripting and automating processes doesn't mean it's always a best option. Some things are best left simple.


╟ Word & InDesign to Kindle & EPUB: a Guide to Pro Results (Amazon) ╢

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Community Beginner ,
Jan 05, 2024 Jan 05, 2024

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@James Gifford—NitroPress My previous message is intended for you, yet I forgot to tag you. And yes, there is no jacket for the hardcover.

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