How to import your custom design into BookSmart

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Below is a helpful path for those who prefer to design pages in other applications and then wish to import them into BookSmart. By starting your designs at the correct size outside of BookSmart and saving your pages out as images, you can preserve your custom layouts from your design software of choice: Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, among others. Once you save them per my tips below, you can import them into BookSmart’s full-bleed single-page image templates. If you’d prefer to design straight from your own design tool and bypass BookSmart, check out our PDF to Book option.

Key initial step: Size your document to the measurements listed in my previous post. These measurements include our 1/8-inch trim and help you preserve custom designed layouts.

1) Export: I have done several tests to figure out the best way to get your pages saved out properly to drop into our full-bleed image pages. From Adobe inDesign, I recommend exporting your file as a high res PDF (pdf/x-1a2001) as single pages, not spreads.pdf export fromInDesign How to import your custom design into BookSmart

Then drag that PDF directly into Photoshop; a dialogue box will come up, asking for DPI, and color settings. Select all of your pages at once, set your DPI to 300 (preferred, but 150 DPI is okay), and set your color to sRGB. Save your files as .jpeg or .png files to import into BookSmart.
pdf import 2photoshop How to import your custom design into BookSmart

*If exporting from Adobe Illustrator, set your export dialogue box to 300 DPI.

from illustrator How to import your custom design into BookSmart

2) Save: What will happen next is a little nutty … all of your individual pages will be rendered and left open on your desktop, unsaved. Believe me, I would tell you if I had a less painful approach. If you discover a better way please drop me a comment.

You will then have to laboriously save each one. This process is a bit painful if you have lots of pages. *I recommend naming your files starting with 001_, 002_, … etc., to preserve your page order – page one, page two, etc. Note: You can have Photoshop auto-number your files after you save them using a custom Photoshop’s “batch” setting, but you have to set up an “action” to create this three-digit numbering.

3) Import: Numbering lets you use Blurb’s Autoflow feature to flow these pages into your BookSmart layout in the correct order. The Autoflow feature in BookSmart can be a big help – I recommend playing with it and eventually using it yourself. You can also manually add these images/pages to your layouts like any other photos.

4) Finish: You can quickly flow your pages into BookSmart as mentioned above or take your time to design the perfect book. Remember, these tips work in any of our available book formats.

Let me know if you’ve had success with other workarounds and post your comments to the Forum. I’m always looking for new ways of working with BookSmart.

From the desk of …
Bryan Burkhart

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  1. All my setting are just as you have discribed. But when I received my book the prints looked green tinted on the inside and the outside cover very dark. My camera is set on sRGB and so is my Photoshop CS2 software. It looks great on the monitor(which is new). What happened? I build all of my collages in Photoshop and then transport them in as a highqaulity jpg. Is there something that I missed?

    By Cynthia Free
      May 3, 2007 – 7:37 pm   Permalink
  2. Hi,
    I’ve seen this happen once or twice before, and think it might have to do with one of these issues…

    There is a really good chance that this could happen if you dropped your images directly from your camera into the layouts. I don’t believe that it has anything to do with the path you followed to save your image collages.

    The tone of your images might need to be adjusted a touch warmer. Perhaps adjust your midtones to counter images going dark. (Just a thought.) Sometimes people consider their first book a proof book to test color output and alleviate complex color issues.

    I have conducted many color tests, cover tests, b+w tests, sepia tests… you might be doing everything correctly, but the images are going “cool” at the printer.

    Color can also be impacted by your shot enviroments (daylight and or flourescent light, natural light, etc.), what setting your camera was on (auto / manual), or whether your monitor has been properly calibrated. Without seeing your images, anything is possible. If some of the above sound like factors for your book, you might want to consider contacting customer service. They’ll be able to specifically help you figure this out.

      May 4, 2007 – 12:36 pm   Permalink
  3. Thanks for your advice. I try to be very carfule with the adjustments on my caerma. To factor in the type of lighting…natural or artificial. Another question….when saving my photos in Photoshop I always maintain the psd file as is and then save as a high res jpeg. I never flatten my psd’s becasue I may want to make other changes later. Could this be a factor that I do not faltten the psd before I save as a jpeg file? I, don’t think it will but you may have some incite to offer.

    By Cynthia Free
      May 6, 2007 – 12:43 pm   Permalink
  4. Hi Cynthia – Without seeing your layered files – and the amount of image manipulation, level and color adjustments you’ve done – by the time you’ve gone through the steps to save a page as an image, and then upload it as a .jpg to BookSmart, your image is already flat. In fact, BookSmart only accepts flat images So, layering – as long as your image/page looks fine in BookSmart preview – should not cause any color changes in your printed book.

    By Kathy
      May 8, 2007 – 10:30 am   Permalink
  5. Hi Bryan, this topic was on my mind as I logged in to Blurb. It would be wonderful if Blurb could accept PDF as image import. When I design work for clients they always get lo-res PDF to view and the printer gets hi-res so all I would need to do is import all those hi-res files into Booksmart and the jobs basically finished. Unfortunately, designers don’t use jpg’s for printing. Your suggestion is a good work around; I just wonder whether the type quality is sharp enough? Can you confirm this.
    What would be a better solution is for you to work with Adobe to produce an ‘export’ plug-in for InDesign.
    File menu > Export > Format: Blurb Book > etc
    You are missing out on a huge market by not letting ‘designers’ print ‘their’ designs (no designer likes templates!).

    Until PDF becomes available I’ll use your method and see what happens. (Bit worried about Cynthia’s colour shift issue though).

    Kind regards

    By Mike
      May 9, 2007 – 12:37 am   Permalink
  6. Hello Mike,

    Great questions. You are not alone in thinking we need to accept PDF’s. The designer in me says the same thing, ’Saving pages as .jpegs or .pngs takes a bit more time and the quality suffers in the process.’ Well, we hear you. We’re interested in this as well and it’s definitely on our list of things to do.

    You are correct about type clarity. It is sharp enough. I’ve had good luck with most of my type in these tests, success with black body text and large header text in color, but I do believe a proof book is a good thing to do as I have found different typefaces behave differently. Very small point sizes, thin typefaces, and certain script fonts can be challenged by this process, just as they can be challenged in any printing process.

    While this workaround has been the most successful of all the ones I’ve tested, there’s definitely a need for a smoother solution. Stay tuned.

    Best regards,

      May 9, 2007 – 1:22 pm   Permalink
  7. 1 more solution…you can now export high images from indesign cs3 straight away….sequential numbered…so export and import straight away…

    By casimir
      May 10, 2007 – 8:40 am   Permalink
  8. casimir – Nice tip! Thanks.

    By Kathy
      May 10, 2007 – 9:05 am   Permalink
  9. There are several thing in this post that concerns me:

    1) Not accepting a PDF, that that has already been brought up.

    2) RGB pages? Shouldn’t things come to you in CMYK? Could that not be a part of the problem? If the image were to be only on the black channel, there would be no “cooling” on press. Do you have a CMYK profile?

    3) It seems that if people that have a prepress background should be allowed to provide you with a finished PDF X1A files under a custom upload and get a discount with the understanding that no additional prep work would be done on the files.

    Just my two cents

      May 13, 2007 – 8:59 pm   Permalink
  10. On your step 2 above, what format should the images be saved out of photoshop in? You show a png settings screen but also talk about jpegs in other tech tips.
    Can you give the details of the setting for jpegs’ export or should I just use png to import into BookSmart (I have fine small type!!)?

    I’m also curious about ‘why srgb?’. Are you converting them to a custom cmyk device profile before printing or are you digi printing direct from srgb?


    By Lii
      June 22, 2007 – 12:46 pm   Permalink
  11. I’d certainly be chomping at the bit if a new version could handle InDesign-generated PDFs. With the prices you’re able to offer, and the high quality results which pretty much everyone is mentioning, I’m sure that you’d get a massive increase in ordering and, therefore, revenue.

      July 17, 2007 – 12:10 am   Permalink
  12. Mark,
    Since importing direct from PDF is not an option currently, what I have successfully done with Adobe’s new InDesign CS3 is this: It has a great new export ability so you can save your whole doc out at hi resolution.

    Design all the pages you want to our trim sizes, be mindful of the bleed, using your designs, grids, etc. In CS3 you can now export your entire document as hi res image pages, at 300 dpi, sRGB. It will even put a 001, 002, 003 in front of each page so they are in order in the folder you saved them in. Now you can drop them into Blurb’s BookSmart software; there you can select them all, and hit ‘autoflow’ and they will flow into your book document in the correct order. I have tested and produced several books with this type of process and I recommend you test this out yourself, or some variation that you prefer. This worked really well for me. We are working on making this type of page import look better to your eye when its dropped into BookSmart currently, but I can tell you, if you open up one of your exported pages in Photoshop and it looks sharp, it will print like that.

      July 17, 2007 – 7:48 am   Permalink
  13. Hi, Brian
    You mentioned that we should export the file as single pages, rather than spreads. Why is that? What if my image covers the entire spread?

    By Mikhail
      July 28, 2007 – 1:07 pm   Permalink
  14. Sorry, all!
    Should\’ve searched for the answer first.

    By Mikhail
      July 28, 2007 – 1:43 pm   Permalink
  15. so I’m creating my own book . I followed the pdf idea and brought themm into photoshop saved as psd. but what should I save then as to import from here

    By glenn
      July 30, 2007 – 3:55 pm   Permalink
  16. Hey Blurb
    Just adding my vote to the one above re: using PDF’s, it’d be awesome at some point in the (hopefully very near :-) ) future you’ll start accepting them

    By Felix Leiter
      July 30, 2007 – 4:46 pm   Permalink
  17. Oh and had a question:

    “For Square 7×7 pages: 6.875 inches all sides ”

    Is the 6.875 number cut, bleed or keepaway?


    By Felix Leiter
      July 30, 2007 – 4:56 pm   Permalink
  18. Hi Glenn – Step 1 in the post above under \”Export\” states to \”Save your files as .jpeg or .png files to import into BookSmart.\” Then you should be on your way.

    By Kathy
      July 30, 2007 – 5:13 pm   Permalink
  19. Hey everyone – We’re moving this discussion over to the Forums – Thanks.

    By Kathy
      August 3, 2007 – 10:51 am   Permalink