I have had nothing but trouble with BookWright. After 2 months working on a large project (250 pgs) and continual contact with support. The following is what I learned.
BookWright needs a lot more work
I've been using BookSmart but noticed the new BookWright app and thought I would give it a spin. To me it's been released prematurely as it seems to lack feature parity to BookSmart.
My #1 complaint would be importing photos into it. In BookSmart you can import a folder of images but BookWright wants you to do that individually! What sort of craziness is that?
Closely followed by the lack of external proofing. In BookSmart you can print to PDF and then share that PDF to get more eyes helping you proof the book but BookWright only has an internal preview which means no remote sharing of the workload.
Layout also has a number of shortcomings. Firstly there is a lack on templates compared to BookSmart. When you drop an image into a container it gets this wide border that makes it harder to place the image when you want an edge of the image next to the edge of the container. One day there might be templates with containers that match the ratios of an image.
There appears to be no way to set the page header or change the footer. I also have no idea what font is used for the page number.
You need more templates with provision for captions. Having a mechanism to use metadata in the image as a caption would be good.
You only supply one two page spread and it's a full bleed unlike most of your other templates. You should be consistent and include at least one two page template with white space like the other templates.
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I have used Bookwright for four projects now, and although it has some quirks, I have been very pleased with the results. The reproduction quality of the images of artwork in my books is outstanding. The only thing I noticed is that the images print a little darker than what shows on my monitor but I think that is the way I have created the images ( I use Lightroom) and not necessarily a Bookwright issue. I import image files that are about 3M in size... I am not sure why jbchisholm imports such huge files... it is unnecessary.
I find the text editing function a bit tedious but workable. Some updates to Bookwright have changed some of my text so that I needed to go back and reedit them, also a bit tedious.
Overall though for a free app I find it very useful.
To Art - The size of the photo's that I used is simply a product of my camera jpg file, improved in Photoshop and saved to my file. I think that most people don't realize how big of a file you get after using simple Photoshop tools. I wanted to make a book of our 3 weeks of River Cruising in Europe (ended with 256 pages). The first 50 or so pages went very well, no problems. Unknown to me, the files I were using (unedited in size) was filling up the program (This does not occur in BookSmart). Others on this forum seem to have had similar problems. That's actually how I found the forum, trying to find answers. I previously used BookSmart and the way they handle the picture size is totally different and had no problem with previous large books. None of the videos say anything about picture size and thought it might interest some. I agree with you about Blurb's final product, they are beautiful. I've found that your darker images in the book are a produce of your monitor calibration. You may already have yours calibrated. If not Blurb has some tutorials that nicely cover calibration.
You should be able to specify the file size when you save an edited image in Photoshop.
It is getting better, thankfully, although there is still more work to do. Headers and footers could do with some additional functionality and a better UI. Globally setting a default font via a preference rather than having to hunt down every use of Arial would be useful.
I'm now using my own page templates in order to get the layout I want but if there is any documentation on the project file's format then I'd be interested in looking at it as there may be additional opportunities to customise the book.
My last encounter with support was when Bookwright would no longer render a book. Support didn't really come up with a solution but I manually replicated the book (starting from scratch with the same images & text) and the new version was OK so there is a bug in the rendering somewhere. I suspect it's triggered if you replace images in a template and the system doesn't properly clear out the old image(s).
On jbchisholm's comments:
I use Lightroom to process RAW images for my books and as I have a Nikon D800E the resulting JPEG files can be over 30MB each. I know Bookwright has an image size limit as it barfs when I try to import a collection of images that includes stitched panoramas but regular images haven't been a problem.
I've not run into a project size limit although I edit my books so they are 100 pages (a magic number for spine sizing with lustre pages). The resulting project files are just over 4GB.
1. I'd like to see autoflow of text. If I'm copying & pasting a lot of text the overflow should automatically flow to additional pages. Instead I have to manually take sections of the overflow & manually move it to more pages. 2. Why when I click to add a new page does it add 2 new pages. I have to go back to manage pages & take out the additional page I didn't want. If I want to add only one page somewhere within the book I should be able to do it. 3. When I do go to manage pages sometimes there is already a page "selected" from a previous selection so if I don't "deselect" it before I select the one I really want selected it deletes more than one page. I waste a lot of time correcting & re adding pages.
Re: Auto Enhancement Feature in BookWright. I am posting this as a caution/ warning, so that if any of you have not uploaded a BookWright book recently, you may avoid the mistake/oversight I made with my last order . A new (or fairly new) feature of the upload process for BW includes various selections, one of which is the Auto-Enhance default. This feature might be beneficial to photographers, but if you are uploading images of paintings, it will probably have the reverse effect---stripping color, mid-tones, and depth, leaving you with a an over-exposed, garish image. that will freak you out.
Somehow I overlooked this button when I uploaded my most recent book–––probably because it wasn't there last time I uploaded. The catch is that If you leave the box UNCHECKED, your book WILL be auto-enhanced, but if you CHECK the box, it will NOT . This actually seems counter-intuitive to me, but never mind. My book looked GHASTLY. I was really perplexed, because not only did my images look the way they were supposed to on my computer, earlier BW books l had printed looked fine, as did an earlier edition of this book which I had originally done with BookSmart. Naturally I assumed it was a printing problem, until I remembered seeing that thing about Auto-Enhance.
I have emailed the Support Team, and Jen verified than the Auto-Enhance box on my order was unchecked. They are going to look into this to be sure, but I thought it would not hurt to mention it here. There is so much to pay attention to---proof-reading, image quality, where your borders are, etc. But image quality is absolutely critical.
There is a failsafe---if you cannot remember whether you checked the auto-enhance box or not. As soon you've uploaded your book, look at a Preview on the Blurb site, before you order a copy. It should look the way you want it to. If I had known to do this, I would have noticed right away that the colors on the cover weren't right.
This is another reason why it's a good idea to order a proof copy of any book.
I think Caroline makes a good point about looking at the Preview after upload. I always do this. I use the Magazine format to create catalogs of my spouse's art for his galleries to use. I always order a Proof copy too because I have found that catalog images of artwork may look just perfect on my monitor (which has been properly calibrated for accurate color rendering) but actual print a bit darker. I factor in enough time in my schedule to allow for a Proof copy to be created, shipped and reviewed. Then I re-edit images if necessary and upload the catalog again. It has saved me from more than one costly print error for sure!
Preview doesn't help you catch a missing ISBN, nor does it it help in positioning any images on the back cover to avoid the barcode.
You have to do most of your critical review work, such as proof-reading and checking image placement, in the Preview feature in BookWright before you upload. Once you choose add an ISBN # from the menu in BW, the "module" appears on the back cover, so you can indeed position your an image to avoid overlap. If your color looks good, you assume it will print well----but that little Auto Enhance feature really tripped me up this time.
I am only suggesting that it might help to take at the Book Preview feature on the Blurb website AFTER you've uploaded because in this particular instance, it would have alerted me to the fact that I had inadvertently left the Auto Enhance box unchecked–––so apparently my book was auto-enhanced and I didn't want that. I just wasn't aware I'd made this error, or that I might have caught it if I'd looked at Book Preview.
The best advice is still, ORDER A PROOF COPY! I wish it were possible to order a paperback proof from a BW book, as you can with BookSmart. Maybe this will be a feature of the future, but I think it might have to do with the ISBN numbers, since you have to have a different one for every edition you do of a book.
I use booksmart for all of my publishing needs. I thought of trying bookwright, but it didn't fit my screen. It's not like booksmart. I have a Dell Latitude D 610 and the screen is not wide screen. With booksmart I'm able to scroll up and down, but with bookwright I couldn't scroll anywhere. Will there ever be another bookwright that will fit all window sizes? Meanwhile I will stay with booksmart, because it's a great software to upload the work. It also uses word documents and this is very important since I use microsoft word to write my stories. Your company has a great software and that's booksmart. Have a great day.
I've used both Booksmart and Bookwright and it looks like Blurb is discontinuing Booksmart. People who already have it can still use it, but it's not a download option on the Blurb website anymore. I agree with many of the above comments. The two progarms don't do the same thing, and in my opinion Booksmart is much better than Bookwright for the amateur writer in so many ways. Bookwright needs to have all the good features avalaible in Booksmart. I
BookWright is difficult. I have a simple question that support can't or won't answer. This is for a print, Trade book, Poetry 6 x 9. I want to use the Georgia font. With is 1.15 spacing as it's good on the eyes. First I was told I couldn't use it, but that's only with e-book and it's supposed to be fine for print books? I hope. The customer support people cannot answer simple questions, it seem.
It appears that BookWright only has standard line spacing in the program - if anyone knows how to alter to 1.15, please inform. The settings on the document I copied into BookWright is set as Georgia font, 12 pt. 1.15 line spacing. I'm nervous, as others are, that there is no way to really check that the preview is accurate. IDoes it really accurately reflect what the book will look like. Can Blurb send you a "proof" or "galley" as they used to be called, before it gets printed? With these problems it seems necessary. I'm concerned that the program will default to their standard setting, even though I have painstakingly maintained the 1.15 line spacing. I would just like to know, so I could possible adjust to a font which won't look too bad if it default to to a standard of 1 or 1.5. If it will default to either 1 or 1.5 line spacing then I could switch to a more ample font, such as Bookman Old Style. I'm on deadline and need to make sure that I'm getting what I want. Thanks.
After using BookSmart for many projects, I thought I'd give BookWright a go....and soon gave up! Not a patch on BookSmart.
I have used BookSmart for many years and have found the gradual improvements useful. However I thought I better keep up to date and down loaded BookWright. Sorry folks but it is a mess and no where near as logical to use as BookSmart.
A few improvements to BookSmart and you could ditch BookWrite, I suggest:
- Allow 1.15 line spacing in text, also improve text handling from Word in Rich Text Form
- Allow you to make your own locked text boxes
- Make snap to grid a bit more accurate, perhaps rulers would be good when editing a page layout
- Borders: allow choice of line width to very very fine.
- I am not sure why people are so enthused about free ISBN numbers or to sell on Amazon but if some want this facility it could be easily allowed in BookSmart.
What ever you do please retain BookSmart as it is so much better than all your competitors free software.
Ian Castle's suggestions make a lot of sense. I thought BookSmart was pretty great, but have switched to BookWright because I do hope to take advantage of the free ISBN #s at some point---purchasing your own IS expensive---and I also like being able to create text and image boxes wherever I want them, in any size. I also like the text flow feature, but haven't yet printed the book in which I am actually using it. I would like to be able to choose borders for images also. Sometimes it's difficult to center an image, because it has to fit exactly into the box. Many people have been complaining about BookWright, but suggestions like these do make sense, and are actually helpful. If the best features of the two apps could somehow be combined....that would be a milestone. I see that the Blurb people are working hard to make BookWright better, with regular updates, so I am hopeful. In the meantime, I intend to go on using BookWright, because for the time being, it does work for me. BookSmart wasn't perfect at first, either, and the one thing I found most frustrating was not being able to create the image and text boxes I needed.
I have used many times Booksmart. Yet I tried Bookwright, and in the meantime, I changed my screen for a 4k 27".
And, I can confirm that bookwright is not ready for high dpi screens. Main menus are ok, but bars and icons are not. These are way too small. Not very up to date for a professional tool.
To me my biggest complaint is memory issues. Bookwright has a lot of trouble working after importing a straight 15 pictures. And I am using Win 8.1 64bit with 32 GB memory. It seems I often need to re-launch the software.
I wish there was a way to convert the bookwright book I started back to Booksmart because I am not satisfied at all.
BookSmart was a dream. I switched to BookWright for the ISBN feature. However, not only is BookWright not ready for prime time, it is turning out to be a nightmare of unimaginable proportions. Glitches are one thing. But when you click CTRL+S to save and receive an error message stating "Problem Saving Your Book -- Please contact Blurb Customer Support" -- and not only does it not save the most recent changes, it DELETES ALL THE WORK YOU'VE SPENT MONTHS DOING -- there is a major problem. To ensure that the problem is on Blurb's end and not an issue with my computer (which was experiencing no other problems), I downloaded the software from their website onto a different computer in hopes of COMPLETELY REDOING A BOOK originally due for release on Halloween. The same thing happened. I was even unable to save the file to a flash drive.
I am writing about this in the public forum in hopes of shaming Blurb into: 1) Issuing an apology to those of us who rely on their services for our businesses; 2) Issuing an explanation of the cause of such grave malfunctioning. Did a disgruntled employee include a virus in the last update to sabotage the company? It's the only thing I can think of that would cause SAVING a file to not only not save, but to totally wipe it out; and 3) Providing quick resolution and major discounts to those of us inconvenienced by these recent troubles, which are interfering with my ability to run my business. Blurb needs to get its act together immediately. In the meantime, I will explore other options for my press as well as recourse against Blurb for the damages caused by its faulty software.
This is in response to "robocup press." BW has a SAVE choice in the FILE Menu: All you have to do is click on that to save your work. If you try to close BW without saving changes, it prompts you to SAVE. However, SAVE (at least on a MAC) is COMMAND S, Not CONTROL /CTRL S. Are you using the save command under the menu, or manually pressing those keys? Or maybe you've made a typo? While I completely understand your frustration and distress at somehow losing all your work, to suggest on a public forum that any employee of a long-standing and reputable company like Blurb would infect a software update with a virus is a pretty serious and nasty allegation , especially if you have not bothered to contact Customer Support for an explanation. If you were prompted to do that when you had a problem saving your work, wouldn't you do so immediately, before firing from the hip? I've never experienced anything other than promptness and courtesy from any of the Customer Support people I've contacted, and when I once made the mistake of failing to check the Auto-Enhance box, and got a bad print copy because of it, I was compensated with a free re-order. And that one was my fault! Free shipping too. Because my books represent a LOT of time & effort on my part, they are all backed up on an external hard drive. The other day a small file was somehow mysteriously deleted from my computer, don't know how, if I did it by accident or what, but luckily I was able to restore it in an instant from the external drive, using Apple's Time Machine. However you back up your hard drive, it's well worth it.
Caroline Trippe: I love Blurb, which is why I use the service. And my comment was not an "allegation," but wondering aloud about how something could possibly go so wrong. I did not imply in any way that Blurb would maliciously harm its own customers. I was thinking more about a potential disgruntled or rogue employee on the way out the door? Again, wondering aloud about how issues this severe could happen -- not accusing anyone of anything. Yes, I have saved from the File menu as well as CTRL + S and I also tried saving to a flash drive. In addition, I downloaded the software from Blurb's website onto a different computer to see if that would have any different result and the same issue has happened. Discussing the issue on an open forum is the LAST resort, not the first. I have reported the issue to Blurb and submitted followup emails. The customer support people ARE amazing. I never implied otherwise. And I hope they will be able to identify the cause of the issue and provide a method for resolving it. Happy bookmaking, everyone!
To Robocup again---Sorry for any misunderstanding. Your email sounded, well, angry, and many people on this forum have expressed their dissatisfaction with BookWright quite strongly. It's important to share problems to help others avoid them, if possible, and to make suggestions, I do think one has to be careful what one says, or how one says it, so as not to give the wrong impression. If the strange thing happened to your book is some fault in the software, it does need to be fixed. I'd be curious to know what customer support thinks could have caused it. So far this has never happened to me, and I have never lost any portions of any of my books, but I did have an issue with one book---at some point, whenever I opened it by clicking on the book icon in the app, BW would shut down---immediately. I couldn't even work on the book. I was able to open it from the FILE menu, but eventually, at the suggestion of someone in support, I uploaded the book to let the engineers try to fix it, and they did. They weren't sure why it happened, but thought it might have had something to do with the file having been saved to Dropbox---maybe getting corrupted. Now I only save my backups to a desktop folder. Please keep us posted on how this problem gets resolved!
Caroline Trippe: I am definitely not angry at Blurb or its employees or even about the situation. Frustrated, yes. I care deeply about the work I do for authors signed to my press and it's hard for me to know that I've let someone down even if the cause of the issue is outside of my control. Moments ago I received an email from a Blurb engineer who acknowledged that there is a bug that has been wiping out files for some customers when they save. I am about to send over some information he requested and will provide an update later about anything new that I learn that might be helpful to others.
Robocup - I feel your pain. I too was dismayed to see that I could not save after several hours of work spent in BookWright (Fatal error rendered by BookWright Software). I opted to re-create my work from a 2 day old back up I had fortunately saved and moved on (loss of 8 hours of work). This weekend, I elected to download a new version of BookWright in the hopes it would cure the bugginess I was experiencing, however I experienced multiple crashes and after working through to completion, I am now unable to Upload the final work. I'm waiting patiently for Blrub to give me some attention as my 150 book order is WAY OVERDUE given the experience. I'll let y'all know how this turns out
Same problem here. The latest release 1.1.109 crashes every 10 minutes for me.
I went through all this effort trying to reduce the volume of my book and now it crashes constantly.
I have the same requests as you David! I would also like to be able to choose different colour page backgrounds throughout the book and in Bookwright I can only choose one colour per page. I was hoping to have my project done in time for a Christmas project but I'm also hoping that it will be upgraded soon because I'm not happy with the limited choices at this point.
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In six hours of trying to use the BookWright program, I had two crashes and about 50 images rejected as corrupt. I switched over to Booksmart and didn't have any of the same problems. Those same images are uploaded and in the book without issue. It's pretty disappointing to switch to a new program and have so many problems out of the gate.
I would second the comments of others that it needs more templates, and add that it would be nice to be able to delete a custom template. I never could figure that one out.
Keep working on it, Blurb. BookWright seems to have potential if you can work out your issues.
To delete a custom template, on a Mac, navigate to your Documents folder. Inside it is a folder called Blurb where your project file and a folder called MyLayouts. Inside it are your custom templates and you can drag them to the trash (or rm them from the command line) to remove them.