BookSmarter: Ten tricks to impress your friends and confound your enemies

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It may depend on who your friends (or enemies) are … but at any rate, here are a few tricks and tips on using BookSmart for smoother and more powerful bookmaking.

Drag and Drop Images from Your Desktop
While it may be easier to import a whole set of images at once using the Get Photos button, you can also drag and drop images directly from your desktop or folders into BookSmart. Simply open your folder of images on your desktop, and drag it into an open book layout in BookSmart. Voila! Your image is added to the book, as well as to My Imported Photos.

Drag and Drop Images to a Page Thumbnail
Thumbnails are the tiny pages at the bottom of BookSmart that you use to navigate forward and backward in your book. You can also drag images from your library or layout directly to the thumbnails, which is really helpful when you want to move an image to a different page in the book. Give it a try.

Hide Used Images
Not sure which photos in your library you’ve already placed in your book? The “Sort By” menu at the top of My Imported Photos holds many options for viewing and sorting your photos, and the “Hide Used Images” toggle is incredibly useful since it hides all photos you’ve already placed … leaving only those that are still looking for a layout home.

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Use Arrows to Nudge an Image
If you are looking for precise control over how your photo is positioned within a layout, try using the arrow keys (Up, Down, Left, Right) to nudge your photo once it has been added to a layout. Simply select the image and tap on the arrow keys.

Use Keyboard Shortcuts and Right-Click Menus
Nothing says “Power User” like keyboard shortcuts … unless it’s getting your right-click on. You can find a full list of BookSmart shortcuts in this FAQ. Looking beyond the standard Copy/Paste? You might try Image Alignment (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + C centers your image for instance), Zoom In (Cmd/Ctrl + =) and Zoom Out (Cmd/Ctrl + – ). Also, try out right-click menus when you’re selecting photos and pages — you’ll get quick access to common actions.

Turn off Text Auto-Zoom
When you insert your cursor into a text box in BookSmart it automatically zooms in so you can edit the text at an easier to read size. If you’d rather zoom on your own, just turn this feature off. Look at the bottom of the View menu and click on the “Auto-Zoom for Text Input” option to toggle this on and off.

“Copy and Paste Page Layout” is Your New Best Friend
This one may be obvious, but it’s also something I find myself using over and over again. Once you have a layout, two-page spread, or sequence of layouts that you’re happy with, it’s easy to build out a book full of those layouts — and ready for your photos or text. Simply select the layout by clicking on the page thumbnail (at the bottom of BookSmart interface) and Shift-Click to select the additional layouts. Then Copy and Paste over and over again to build out your template.

Paste Text to Match Style
Many people write and edit big chunks of text in their word processor. When you copy and paste that text into BookSmart it will, for the most part, keep the style (font, color, size) that you were using in the word processor. This can be a powerful tip in itself, but what if you’ve already defined a look and feel for your text in BookSmart? Under the “Edit” menu you’ll find an option to “Paste Plain Text.” Paste your text using that option, and it will take on the style already defined in BookSmart.

Save Headers and Footers Until Last
Headers and footers are also referred to as folios. These are the small text boxes on the top and bottom of many pages that are used for page numbers, book title, chapter title, etc. We also see the occasional Blurb book that utilizes folios for photo captions. My only tip here is to not worry about designing your folios until you’ve laid out your entire book. At that point click in, edit and style the text, and determine if you’d like to apply the style to the whole book, the chapter, or just the page.

How to be Considered for Staff Picks
OK, so this isn’t necessarily a BookSmart tip, but I wanted to let everyone know how to be considered for Staff Picks in the bookstore. We update this weekly, and one staff pick is selected as Book of the Week. To be considered you’ll need to do two things. First, make sure that your book privacy setting is set to Public. This means it is available in the Blurb Public Bookstore. Next, turn on your Book Preview, because we can’t judge the book by its cover. Not very well, anyway.

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Hope these are helpful, and that you found at least one or two you didn’t already know. Have wonderful long weekend making books!

Have other tips and tricks not mentioned here? Leave us a comment with your favorite.

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  1. Do we need to tip you off about our book in order to be considered for Staff Pick? I’d hate to get lost in the pile should my book be worthy.

      July 6, 2008 – 9:37 am   Permalink
  2. Hi Paul,
    Thanks for asking!
    We go through all of the Book-Preview enabled books pretty carefully, so there’s no need to tip us off. Of course, we see a lot of fantastic books – so, unfortunately, some of the greats fall by the wayside.

      July 7, 2008 – 10:07 am   Permalink
  3. Excellent information. I really like the drag ‘n drop info for pics within and from outside Booksmart. Very helpful.

    BTW – thanks for the hints on how to be considered for Staff Picks. Feel free to take a look at my lil’ masterpiece. I welcome the consideration by your overworked, underpaid staff.

    Thanks so much and keep up the good work.

      July 8, 2008 – 12:06 pm   Permalink
  4. I’d like to have a full bleed, NON-dust jacket cover with my selected photos – is that possible? I’m having a hard time figuring out how to select so that happens… many thanks!

      August 5, 2008 – 6:57 pm   Permalink
  5. How do I enter “about the author” info to my bookstore entry?

      August 8, 2008 – 12:23 pm   Permalink
  6. I am having a huge problem with writing a doc. then copy pasting the text to my blurb file. Every time it shows the clipped text warning, I move something one way the warning is still there, in fact, I can keep pressing the return button until the one column has nearly no text in it, and it STILL shows clipped text warning. I wish it would add automatically that which fits and return that which doesn’t to the next column. Am I doing something wrong please? Thank you.

    By lisa
      August 27, 2008 – 4:12 pm   Permalink
  7. When I made my book available to ‘invited guests’ many of the e-mails went straight to their junk boxes. (Maybe that was it’s rightful place, but they didn’t even get the chance to decide for themselves!)

    By Neil
      September 16, 2008 – 11:51 am   Permalink
  8. This would probably help your company in showing the ease of how to assemble a book through your site. They are extremely useful in making the difficult explanations easy.

      September 16, 2008 – 2:02 pm   Permalink
  9. I would like to see a way to include the dust jacket items as pages in the soft and cloth bound editions. I was a little disappointed when I received the books, and that info from the dust covered version was missing.

    Also, would LOVE it if they would include a show hidden characters or give us the ability to show returns, spaces etc. I waste countless hours trying to get a sentence to land on either one page or the next and it usually takes several tries to get it, before it quits jumping from one page to the next.

    Also, it seems that as I have written a great deal in short increments, when I highlight ALL, or select ALL, it never grabs all of the text in any of my single chapters. Not sure why, but fixing that would also speed up pre-press efforts.

      September 17, 2008 – 8:35 pm   Permalink
  10. i loved making my book on our time in Peru and i am absolutely hooked on making more books of our photos for family and friends. It is such a great site.

    By marinacath
      September 18, 2008 – 3:22 am   Permalink
  11. I am looking for two simple layouts which are available in mac products but not here as far as I can see. The layouts are as follows.

    A four image layout, no text, even spacing around each so that the images take up almost the full page but have spacing on the outside edges as well as the inside.

    A three image layout, one image on top, two underneath, all with spacing around them. The reverse of this would also be very helpful.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated including whether this is the right place to post a question like this.

    Many thanks


      September 23, 2008 – 2:36 pm   Permalink
  12. Hey, I’m trying to make a book with genealogy in it, like the family tree stuff. Is there a template somewhere in here that I’m missing? How about adding one if not!

    By Pat Gates
      September 26, 2008 – 10:47 am   Permalink
  13. I am having so much fun creating a Christmas present for my daughter! This is the coolest and easiest to use website ever! I am addicted to it and can’t wait to get home from work every nite so I can continue to work on my gift for my daughter. It is her blog from a summer trip she took to ASIA, 80 pages worth of photos and memories. When I am done with that one, I am going to work on her blog from her semester abroad. Your videos aree very helpful and I can’t wait to see the finished product. Thanks for all of your hardwork on this website. You have got me hooked!

    By Lisa
      October 30, 2008 – 4:01 am   Permalink
  14. Is there any way I can change my books size after I have completed the layout?

      November 3, 2008 – 6:44 pm   Permalink
  15. Are the books printed only in 40 page increments?
    If I order a 60 page book, is it priced proportionally between the 40 — 80 page price?
    Missed your Nov. 8 webinar because my computer crashed the day before. I definitley will be looking at your tutorials.
    In a Photo Book can I have short captions only for text?

    Thanks for the informative web site, I”m working on my Photo Book now

    Clemens Roether

    By Clemens Roether
      November 17, 2008 – 2:07 pm   Permalink
  16. For the text in my book, I would like to use Americana BT. Can you tell me if Americana BT shows up well on a printed page in size 12 and 14?

    By Joan Chin
      November 20, 2008 – 3:18 pm   Permalink
  17. I recently submitted my book, Construction Zone, but discovered some typos I had missed on my own previewing. How can I delete the book I submitted first, and resubmit the current one that has been corrected? I read the answer to this somewhere, but don’t remember where I found it.
    Also, many times the program just closes itself down, and I need to bring it up again. No warning or reason to why this happens. Do you have an explanation?

    By Grace Kyser
      November 22, 2008 – 10:26 pm   Permalink
  18. Does anyone know how I post an isbn onto a blurb publisned book?

    By Jon Grainge
      November 28, 2008 – 8:48 am   Permalink
  19. Love your website, best in it’s class by far

    By Lupa
      December 14, 2008 – 1:59 am   Permalink
  20. Thank you for I look forward to publishing my own book in the future. I will be interested in combining photos and/or art work with at least a moderate amount of text. Is that typical of your subscribers?

      January 27, 2009 – 5:20 pm   Permalink
  21. I’d love to have the option of purchasing a dust cover for the books I purchase with the wrapped photo covers.

    By Becky Djernes
      March 19, 2009 – 10:55 am   Permalink
  22. Maybe not the write place to write a serjestion for the next version of BookSmart, yet here goes…

    Being able to sending a PDF off to a client from within the program!
    or a proff/contact sheet with say two thumbnails to an A4?
    or is there a better way to show a client how his/her book is progressing?
    Appart from printing it out or useing a screen capture?
    Being able to send a client a preview of how changes look quickly is not an option at the moment, please, please concider a contact sheet or export to pdf option in the new version.
    This could be permently set to a low res only, for obvieous reasons.


      March 29, 2009 – 5:35 am   Permalink
  23. Hi,

    I am a wedding photographer in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. I am currently making books with a local (malaysian) photobook company. I am not satisfied with the result as the photos are dark and not appealing.

    I personally post edit my images and its definitely not dark. If I get your services, will there be any chance my photos be dark as well due to offset printing…that’s what they told me.

    Please advice…I want to give pro class material to my customers.

    Do you guys make custom sized books…eg 11″ x 15″ or somewhere close.

    Thanking you in advance…Suresh

      July 31, 2009 – 8:14 pm   Permalink
  24. Does the new Booksmart 2.5 have additional page background options that are different than the 2.0? There are many animal and baby backgrounds in the 2.0 but I would like to see other theme backgrounds (birthdays, sports, travel, school, etc.).

    I love your easy to use software and will continue to tell my friends about your website.

    By Janet Yskes
      October 2, 2009 – 4:54 am   Permalink
  25. The questions and your answers are great but why don’t more answers show up in blue? And, what is this PERMA LINK?

    By Saiberlich-Poulos
      November 14, 2009 – 6:12 am   Permalink
  26. I loved reading your tricks. These can be tried once. I think they will help.

      December 20, 2009 – 11:25 pm   Permalink
  27. Maybe I’m missing something (would not be the first time) but I have my book in Word. I use 9 points of space after each paragraph and have first characters of paragraphs indented. When I paste the thing into BookSmart all of that goes away.

    If I try to select the entire book of text and change the font, the program crashes after about 1 minute. Every time. Even if I try to do this for a single 10-page chapter…. “Sorry. The application BookSmart has unexpectedly quit…”

    Not that I think about it, I use Times New Roman in Word but it comes into the template as Georgia.

    I REALLY REALLY REALLY need to have my indents and extra paragraph spacing used intact.

    Again… am I missing something or have you just not got the ability to help me?

    Thanks, otherwise. Your layout tool is great and easy to use (except for the formatting stuff!}.

    By Tom Hudson
      January 12, 2010 – 7:22 pm   Permalink
  28. Please can you advise if there is a feature where background colour can be added to text &/or image boxes, at the moment it is only available for the entire page. I don’t have Indesign or any other design specific programme so am only using Blurb, am satisfied with that but the additional extras would be fab! Also, having gone thru some of the tutorials and hints/tips, I see there is a new icon for image borders, I saw it in the video clip, but I cannot find it anywhere on the page when editing my book.
    Thanks a mill

    By Soooze
      January 13, 2010 – 3:12 am   Permalink
  29. I’d love so see a feature in a future version of Blurb Booksmart that would allow a user to reduce the opacity of an image such as the background image. It would make assembly of pages much quicker/easier than going back and forth from Photoshop.

      January 23, 2010 – 6:51 pm   Permalink
  30. I’m also interested in the genealogy style template. I realize that these reports can be hugely complex but a plain begats list that would hold a three line text box for a long name with dates and a birthplace would be ideal. And who wouldn’t settle for an art piece like offers. My wish list grows…

    By Deb Wood
      February 16, 2010 – 1:15 pm   Permalink
  31. Question. What does four color printing mean? If I use the backgrounds offered how does that increase the price of my book?

    By Jean
      February 26, 2010 – 11:10 am   Permalink
  32. Hey! Someone in my Facebook group shared this website with us so I came to look it
    over. I’m definitely loving the information.
    I’m bookmarking and will be tweeting this to my followers!
    Wonderful blog and brilliant design.

      October 18, 2013 – 2:04 am   Permalink

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