Importing PDFs: Export your layout from Adobe CS3 into BookSmart

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The following directions are no longer recommended or supported by Blurb, as we have seen inconsistent printed results with JPGs that have been exported directly from InDesign using this method.

Because text-intensive designs are particularly likely to be impacted, to ensure your custom designs print optimally and that custom text is cleanly reproduced, please follow these directions instead.

Blurb BookSmart™ offers an amazing array of layout templates for you to successfully design your book. We try to give you as much flexibility in this area as possible. We also offer full-bleed image pages in each book template that let you drop in your own designed page. Note: It’s easiest when your doc is sized to these specs: Full-bleed page specs.

We are aware of your interest in the ability to import high-res PDF files directly into BookSmart. Because PDF support/import is currently not available, here’s a nifty workaround that uses Adobe InDesign CS3 (not available in CS2) to export your layout document as a high-res (300 DPI) page file with great ease. I believe this is the best way to import your own custom-designed pages into BookSmart, so let’s get started:

1. Design your page size to the specs I mentioned above and save your document. Be mindful of bleed area, image resolution, etc.

2. With your document open, it’s time to export your file. Go to the InDesign pulldown menu and select File, then Export.

3. Up pops a dialogue box:

export 012 Importing PDFs: Export your layout from Adobe CS3 into BookSmart

Save your file to a folder of your choice (as single pages, not spreads), and add a three-digit suffix such as ( _00) to your file name as Adobe will add a number to each page it saves after that into your folder. You will see this saves your pages in the correct numerical order. (This is a huge help when you bring these page images into BookSmart.) Choose your file format as either png or jpeg. Click Save.

4. You now get a second pop-up dialogue box:

export 02 Importing PDFs: Export your layout from Adobe CS3 into BookSmart

This window asks for Page Range, Quality, and Resolution. Choose your range, select high quality, and 300 DPI resolution. I leave Format Method at Baseline. Hit Export.

5. Check your folder now. All your pages are saved in the correct order with a numerical suffix after your file name_ , _001, _002, etc. Now go into BookSmart.

6. In BookSmart, in the New Book Setup, choose your book size in the size you built your Adobe CS3 files; next select Photo book because it offers you a quick full-bleed starting point:

1 8  Importing PDFs: Export your layout from Adobe CS3 into BookSmart

Now, delete any layout pages before the full-bleed page you don’t want or need. You can always add them back later. You really just need full-bleed image pages for this process. Go to Get Pictures and point BookSmart at your folder of pages, select all of your pages, and import into BookSmart or drag and drop them into BookSmart’s Image Library.

7. Cool … now here comes the fun part: Pick/highlight the page you want your page import to start on in your layout. Using BookSmart’s Autoflow tool, select all your image pages and then click the Autoflow tool … Boom! All your pages autoflow numerically into your BookSmart layout. BookSmart will add pages automatically until all your pages are loaded into your book layout. You can make adjustments if need be, add a single page before, or remove one to get your left pages on the left, etc.

Give this a try. Play around with it. Feel free to share any additional info you discover through your tests. This has been successful for me.

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  1. Bryan,
    This is very helpful info. Why not go one step further and provide downloadable indesign CS3 templates for all your book sizes? This would take the guess work out of bleeds and trims and standardize this exporting process for us photographer/designers.

    By Paul Takeuchi
      September 10, 2007 – 5:08 am   Permalink
  2. Very interesting.
    But is it possible to send you directly a InDesign file or a hi-res PDF without exporting every page in JPG and then put it in Booksmart ?
    Can you print a book directly from a .indd or a .pdf ?

    By Fabien
      September 18, 2007 – 9:41 am   Permalink
  3. I also believe that a template for InDesign with the correct size would be a huge help.

      September 25, 2007 – 11:59 am   Permalink
  4. I am all for everything the three previous posts have brought up. Currently what we can provide you are our trim sizes and bleed information for all our sizes here.
    I recommend building your files in the app of your choice: InDesign, Photoshop, etc., to these specs and do some of your own tests with our full bleed pages for the time being.

    BookSmart is evolving quickly and we have great new features being developed all the time to roll into our next release, most of which come directly from your ideas and suggestions within the Blurb blog and forum. Keep them coming! Thanks / Bryan

      September 25, 2007 – 3:08 pm   Permalink
  5. Silly question —

    I’ve produced a pdf doc to spec. Why use booksmart? It’s a great tool for someone who wants guidance and an almost wizard-like work flow, but in the end, the output is pdf (or perhaps something akin to it — I’ve made no effort to peek at what booksmart is uploading.)

    Why not provide a service on your web server to upload that finished pdf?

    Lu Lu does offer that service to folks who choose to author a book using something other than their builder (which by the way is inferior to yours, but it is a pretty cool flash based client)

    By pupfish
      September 26, 2007 – 8:40 pm   Permalink
  6. i tried the procedure and it almost worked as described. the problem was when the pages get imported into BookSmart, the sort order is alphabetical, not alphanumeric… hence you’ll get pages 1,10,11, ..,2, 21, etc.. Not very smart! I manually renamed (using Renamer by den4b) all 80 pages to get the correct sort order.

    Also, most of my pages were text not images, and though i used the specs recommended (300 dpi, maximum jpeg quality), the compression artifacts can still be seen in the printed result. This procedure is NOT good for regular-sized font text pages.

    BookSmart is certainly targeted for the casual or beginner (scrap) book maker. Anyone serious about getting the exact finish and control over their book would use a real wordprocessing or typesetting software. Blurb will not be pertinent to that segment until it supports other means of formatting a book!

    By boo
      September 29, 2007 – 11:26 pm   Permalink
  7. Boo,
    In my post I mentioned the need to add a _00 to the end of your file name before you export it. Then Adobe adds the numbers following the _00 and your numbers work correctly. From my previous post, \”Save your file to a folder of your choice (as single pages, not spreads), and add a three-digit suffix such as ( _00) to your file name as Adobe will add a number to each page it saves after that into your folder.\”

    I would agree with you, heavy text pages that are set at 9pt, 10pt etc., may be challenged. I have had success with black text on white backgrounds mostly. Larger type for headlines, pull quotes work fine. I always recommend sending initially a single book to test your technique and images in general and this would hold true in this case.

    The technique I describe above is the best way to import pages from Adobe InDesign if not using BookSmarts templates is desired to set your type. A high res pdf imported directly would give you the highest quality, but this is not possible. I have had success with the process described above (and have heard from others that have too) Try exporting again with the _00 added to the end of your file name before you start the export and you will see the numbers are then in order correct. thanks.

      September 30, 2007 – 7:30 pm   Permalink
  8. I had problems using that technic as text converted to jpeg doesn’t render well. I am looking forward to Blurb allowing us to send pdf files as Lulu is already doing.

    By Herve
      October 11, 2007 – 6:19 am   Permalink
  9. I can understand the need to ‘sanitize’ submissions from the general public through BookSmart but you know, there’s a whole bunch of us who do know what we’re doing (I send PDFs to the presses every day).
    I’ll even sign a waiver, just let me use my beloved InDesign and make my PDFs.

    And you’ll save bandwidth! Sucking up entire libraries of 8″x10″ 300dpi JPGs must be painful. :)

    By mogo
      November 19, 2007 – 10:58 am   Permalink
  10. mogo,
    I am with you on the simplicity of direct PDF export for printing, the clean ‘preflight’ of the file is flawless and so simple. We are looking into this option and are scoping it out, but currently direct PDF import is not available (this year) via Blurb.

    Yes, there are limitations with the work-around I have outlined above, yet within these limitations, I am seeing many beautiful and successful books being created. For the time being, it is the best current option for designing pages out of template currently within the Blurb publishing / printing environment.

      November 19, 2007 – 11:18 am   Permalink
  11. Excellent posts–I have successfully done this as well. Looks very nice.

    By chdant
      December 18, 2007 – 4:41 pm   Permalink
  12. Is it possible to import word documents with text content into my book in BookSmart? If not, why not?

    By bobmartin
      January 19, 2008 – 10:25 pm   Permalink
  13. WHY?

    One simple question. Every printer accepts PDF files,
    what is the limitation that prevents you from doing so
    as well?

    By Steve
      April 9, 2008 – 8:39 pm   Permalink
  14. In my experience, InDesgin does a lousy job of exporting pages to jpegs. Fonts and vector graphics do not appear sharp, rather they are very pixelated.

    By jamie
      April 17, 2008 – 11:59 am   Permalink
  15. Re:InDesign page imports – would the standard size text be sharper if it was converted to outline? jamie does mention that vector graphics are not very sharp from InDesign.

    By lakewalker
      April 18, 2008 – 8:41 am   Permalink
  16. Sending PDF Files to Blurb? With preset templates sent by Blurb? This would be really fantastic. Dont get me wrong, the blurb software is well conceived, but no matter how much work you put in to develop hundreds of templates, I usually end up designin them with Photoshop. Not because the templates are bad, but because every composition is different. If I could work with PDFpen, it would save a great amount of time. No need for InDesign or PS…

      May 22, 2008 – 11:09 am   Permalink
  17. In this explaination, DPI and PPI is mixed up. DPI is “dots per inch” and PPI is “pixels per inch”. They are totally different things. DPI is about printing and PPI is about resolution on computer screens. In the explaination, it seems like it is explaining about DPI, but in the example image, it says PPI. I am trying to make photo book through blurb right now and need to know what DPI they use to print. Also, what is the minimum PPI I should use to get good quality print? 200 PPI maybe? Does anybody know for sure?

    By Aya
      July 1, 2008 – 10:32 pm   Permalink
  18. Here is the FAQ with the details you are asking about Aya.

    By Chad
      July 2, 2008 – 8:38 am   Permalink
  19. Is it really that hard to provide the option of uploading custom PDF’s? By simply offering this option for the more experienced book designer and keeping BookSmart templates for the beginners, Blurb would be opening a lot of doors to a lot of people. It’s an investment! Come on Blurb get on it!

      August 13, 2008 – 2:40 pm   Permalink
  20. Hey David, it’s actually pretty complex, and it’s something that’s on our list but we also acknowledge the benefits this would bring to many of our customers. To this point we’ve been pretty focused on BookSmart, but this continues to be something on our list. Stay tuned!

    By Mike
      August 13, 2008 – 5:56 pm   Permalink
  21. Just so you know, as soon as you have the capability to print from custom PDFs, I’ll be ready to use your service. Can’t see myself going through the exercise of creating JPGs of every page to print here. Too many inherent issues with JPGs, in particular, with type quality to do this. Lossy compression is bad for type, very bad.

    In the meantime, I’ll be stuck with your competitor(s) and not having as many options.

    By Greg
      August 20, 2008 – 1:24 pm   Permalink
  22. Is there a quality difference in exporting an InDesign file as a PDF and then converting it to a JPG in Photoshop, or do you get the same result when you export directly to a JPG from InDesign?

    By Lara
      August 29, 2008 – 9:53 am   Permalink
  23. Hi folks!
    Ihave a dream… about a book with many many pages… full of text and pictures… and Blurb software is not enough for me. Ok. Touraround with exporting pages from InDesign or any other app to full bleed pages.
    Don’t juggle with JPEG. Use PNG 24 bit!!! No artifacts, no matters, full quality.
    I’m currently working with this format, and seems to be Ok!

    Next year BookSmart could be really *smart*? Good news!!! :-)

    Take care!

      September 9, 2008 – 2:21 pm   Permalink
  24. I like this process better than having to export to PDF and then import into Photoshop and then output to PNG, however I think I’m missing something. I want to use PNG (as JFUSTE recommended) to avoid artifacts, but on my dropdown menu in InDesign CS3, there’s no option for PNG — just JPEG, PDF, EPS and a few others. Bryan also mentions PNG as an option in his description.

    By Larry
      September 25, 2008 – 12:38 pm   Permalink
  25. I have just spent three weeks creating and filling my custom templates in InDesign CS. I now discover that it can’t export JPEGs at appropriate quality and you don’t accept PDFs. I appreciate you may all think I am stupid but what can I do now? I’ve done all the work……..


      November 3, 2008 – 4:46 pm   Permalink

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