Technology has made a lot of things easier and more convenient, and book formatting is one of them. With the right book layout software, anybody can format their books without needing to hire a professional.
This can save a lot of time and money, especially for self-publishing authors. Of course, if you want to get your book printed, it will need to meet the print requirements of the printer you're using. That's why it's important to choose the right book formatting software.
To help you make the best decision, I've put together a list of some of the best book layout software on the market, along with the pros and cons of each one. I hope this post will be helpful as you navigate the world of book formatting!
The 9 best programs for book layout are;
Let’s take a more in-depth look at why some of these programs for book layout are considered to be the best.
Adobe InDesign is a page layout and formatting software created by Adobe; that launched in the year 2000.
The InDesign Interface
Adobe InDesign interface is fully customizable and features a default grey background. In the workspace layout, the print and the interactive workspace are entirely different and are separate.
For Print documents, InDesign has it all; you can customize the document's layout to suit your needs.
Whether your goal is to create a photo book or a novel, InDesign provides tools that will make your printed documents top-notch.
Suppose you need to get your documents out quickly in the interactive workspace. In that case, there is a "Publish Online" feature that will publish your work online.
Publishing Finished Work
To publish your finished work on InDesign, you will need to first convert it to a PDF before exporting it to a printer.
When working with digital documents, users have the option of using the "Publish Online" feature. The "Publish Online" feature allows you to host the file on Adobe servers, which connects to your creative cloud account.
- The single app is available for $20.99
- The entire Adobe suite is available for $52.99.
- Great reviews from some of the most professional book cover designers
- Can be synced with other creative cloud software
- Suitable for print and digital documents
- Subscription is expensive
- Technical support is slow
- UI choices are limited.
Before the year 2000, QuarkXPress was the most sought-after book publishing software.
QuarkXPress lost market shares due to numerous customer complaints and a lot of crash reports. Another reason for the loss in market shares is that QuarkXPress was late to the digital publishing scene.
Categories of QuarkXPress
QuarkXPress consists of 4 major categories that include;
Features of the New QuarkXPress
Since its loss in market shares, QuarkXPress has tried all it can to get back into being every publisher's first choice. They have had to fix all issues with bugs and also include up-to-date digital publishing features.
The new QuarkXPress software is not only for publishers who want to make single-page flyers, catalogues, and other book documents. It also supports eBooks, web pages, and mobile apps. Since its inception, QuarkXPress provided basic features like customizing font, colour, alignment, and spacing.
- Quark Xpress +1 year advantage- $395
- Quark Xpress +2 year advantage- $625
- Quark Xpress +3 year advantage- $795
- 1 year advantage- $295
- 2 years advantage- $525
- 3 years advantage- $699
- Quark Xpress +1 year advantage- $95
- Quark Xpress +2 year advantage- $150
- Quark Xpress +3 year advantage- $205
Quark Xpress Business
- One year plan- $1285
- Two years plan- $2313
- Three years plan- $3277
- It supports InDesign files
- The design has remained the same over the years, making it unnecessary for you the keep updating learning how to use the software.
- A new feature that supports exporting EPUB and digital formats
- Pricing is expensive
- Reports of a sudden crash
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Affinity Publisher is a modern InDesign alternative. Serif, the popular software creation company, created Affinity Publisher in 2019. Although it is a newcomer in the book formatting industry, it is no novice in the book formatting scene.
Affinity Publisher also packs many of the beautiful features you will get on InDesign. The only issue you might have if you are accustomed to InDesign is that you will have to learn the new terms and format, but the two have the same functionality.
With Affinity Publisher, you will be able to import and view all of your files from InDesign, with the exported files looking close to perfect.
Another familiar feature is that Affinity publisher has tried as much as possible to keep their user interface a lot like the Adobe InDesign’s interface. Other features include master pages, Hyperlinks, section manager, watermarking for piracy prevention, and PDF production.
One-time fee of $49.99
- Data merge
- You have to pay to use fonts.
- It does not support InDesign documents.
One of the best photo books software today is Blurb Bookwright. This software gives you unique designs and gives you the freedom to import plugins from InDesign, text from MS Word. Blurb is easily the best choice for people trying to get their photos made into books.
Available Book Sizes
The blurb photo book comes in different sizes, and there are also six paper types.
Paper sizes include:
Mini Square - 13 x 13cm
Small Square - 18 × 18 cm
Standard Portrait - 20 × 25 cm
Standard Landscape - 25 × 20 cm
Large Square - 30 × 30 cm
Large Landscape - 33 × 28 cm
Magazine - 22 × 28 cm
With these paper sizes and types, Blurb is the best software for professional photographers and people who want to publish their books. Blurb's book covers are excellent, the covers available range from softcover, hardcover, and dust jacket, and image wrapped around the exterior.
The pricing depends on the number of pages for the book and the type of cover.
- It’s easy to use
- Guideline to help you during book styling services
- You can select the overnight shipping option.
- Top-notch paper and binder
- You cannot edit
- Colour options are not well represented
- No freedom to be creative.
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FlipHTML5 is digital software that can work on all mobile devices. You can also use it for publishing digital flipbooks.
Benefits of using FlipHTML5
Beginners and new users will find it very easy to get the hang of using the FlipHTML5 software due to its user-friendly design. New users of the software will not have to start from scratch, import the PDF you need from a computer, work on it, and upload the finished work to the flip cloud.
FlipHTML5 also features an animation editor that comes preloaded with tools like link, text, dialogue, shape, button, and more. All text and videos can be customized to have effects that will play within a specific time frame.
FlipHTML5 gives you the ability to create an Interactive PDF with only a few steps. Lastly, there is an online editor, which means everyone can access some of the features from FlipHTML5 without having to download the software.
Pro - $12.50
Platinum - $25/month
Enterprise - 83.50/month.
- Has a free version
- Users can use it to make their social media publication more entertaining.
- Provides viewers statistics for users
- Free users will only have access to limited templates.
Founded in 2014, Reedsy has always set out to make publishing easier for self-published authors. They offer a free online book editor and writing tool.
You can easily distribute your formatted book directly to Smashwords, IngramSpark, Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, Apple iBooks, and Kobo Writing Life. You can also hire a specialist freelancer directly on the platform and even co-edit your book with them.
- Free to use
- Easy to use and get a professional product
- Edit and publish directly from Reedsy
- Not a huge learning curve to get started
- Many customers have complained about poor customer service.
Lulu is not an editor in itself however it does provide great book templates and guides on how you can create your own templates.
These templates can then be used in popular programs like Adobe Indesign or Photoshop but are also compatible with others due to being .PNG and .PDF files.
They have a variety of template types available to download:
Scribus has been on the scene since 2001 and is free, open-source software available on all operating systems. It is a very powerful free tool and is consistently updated by a collective of developers all around the world.
No hefty price tag and easy accessibility invite beginners and experts alike.
- Open-source - free to download and use
- Works on all operating systems
- Lots of tools you usually find in premium software
- The software can take some getting used to if you have never used InDesign before
- Not compatible with many file types
Formatting in Microsoft Word is quite easy and is most people's go-to because it is a common application most of us already have on our computers.
Once you are on the Page Setup setup screen, you can adjust the page size, margin size, and gutter size accordingly. You can also add page numbers to your book from the Insert menu.
You can then export it as a PDF and upload it to your chosen book printing service. You will upload your cover separately.
- You probably already have it installed.
- Very simple and straight forward to use for novels and general image-less books.
- You can download free formatting templates.
- No good for children's books or picture books.
- Not all publishers accept PDF files formatted in Microsoft Word
Hiring an Expert to Format Your Book
If you find this whole book formatting process a bit overwhelming, do not worry - you aren't alone. My first book, which was a children's book, required I met all kinds of criteria to be eligible for print. I had selected the bleed option and thought my images would just run to the edge of the page with no issues.
However, I didn't know I would be in for a surprise (over and over again) when Amazon KDP kept rejecting my upload! Honestly, there are many reasons for a failed KDP manuscript upload, but they kept telling me my dimensions were off and I needed to add inches here and there.
After a while, it just got so frustrating and I grew impatient and anxious as I wanted to get my first book out there. I thought to myself, 'I am happy with the way it looks, what is their problem!?"
I scouted for a freelancer on Fiverr to format my book and be done with it!
There are hundreds of professional formatting experts and editors on Fiverr with very competitive deals. That was the quick solution, however, if you don't plan on your first book being your last then it is something you are going to have to learn. I did just that with InDesign and Affinity Publisher.