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Alternatives to Adobe Acrobat DC for a small book publisher


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Hello everyone!

I run a small independent book publishing company and I design the book covers. As a small independent book publisher I need to keep our costs down as much as possible. To support the subscription cost of Photoshop and Acrobat DC we have to sell about 68 copies a year of our books. That means less money to spend on advertising and promotion.

I'm in the process of trying to get off of Photoshop and onto Affinity, which is not easy, because I have to face a learning curve. What I really need help with is finding an alternative to Acrobat DC so that we can created press ready PDFs for the cover. Just doing that would save us a lot of money. 

Is anyone using an Acrobat DC alternative for producing press ready PDFs? Thanks!

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35 minutes ago, DesertDenizen said:

producing press ready PDFs?

Well, all Affinity apps can export as PDF/X which are press ready by definition.
If you mean Acrobat's preflight features etc., someone here was recommending https://zevrix.com/PDFCheckpoint (Mac only) as an affordable alternative. I might eventually look into it myself once I've migrated to MacOS Catalina, but for now I'm still using Acrobat X on El Capitan.

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12 minutes ago, loukash said:

Well, all Affinity apps can export as PDF/X which are press ready by definition.
If you mean Acrobat's preflight features etc., someone here was recommending https://zevrix.com/PDFCheckpoint (Mac only) as an affordable alternative. I might eventually look into it myself once I've migrated to MacOS Catalina, but for now I'm still using Acrobat X on El Capitan.

Thank you for the recommendation. I'm trying to target my first test book cover project to be done entirely using Affinity Photo and will look into the PDF alternative for that cover as well.

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You should be able to do everything you need to do to create a print ready PDF without Acrobat DC. Are you using Acrobats preflight options to convert colours to convert to PDF/X?

If you are you can prepare your files the correct way from scratch and export PDF's properly from Publisher for print. I believe you can also have the PDF export for PDF/X right from Publisher so that should convert everything to CMYK in a standard acceptable for a print shop. 

If you have not already I would get the demos and try and create the jobs you would normally do, force yourself to use it, put in the time so you can know that it is a viable alternative to your current workflow, or it is not. I am thinking it will be once you understand it.

 

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9 minutes ago, DesertDenizen said:

book cover project to be done entirely using Affinity Photo

While it's technically possible – provided you know what you're doing – to do such a project "entirely" in an app that is primarily meant to be a bitmap editor like Affinity Photo, a book cover is essentially a layout. You should use the right tool for layouts like books, including book covers, and that would be Publisher. Use Photo as a supplement if you need to edit or create bitmap artwork or photos.

9 minutes ago, DesertDenizen said:

will look into the PDF alternative for that cover as well.

PDF Checkpoint is not an "alternative" to create a cover. It's a tool to double check if your exported PDF is properly formatted for print.

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1 hour ago, loukash said:

While it's technically possible – provided you know what you're doing – to do such a project "entirely" in an app that is primarily meant to be a bitmap editor like Affinity Photo, a book cover is essentially a layout. You should use the right tool for layouts like books, including book covers, and that would be Publisher. Use Photo as a supplement if you need to edit or create bitmap artwork or photos.

PDF Checkpoint is not an "alternative" to create a cover. It's a tool to double check if your exported PDF is properly formatted for print.

Sorry, I did not mean that I would use something like Checkpoint for PDF production, but rather how I use Adobe Preflight today. I do have a copy of Publisher that I bought as well, mainly two graphic books we will be coming out with later in the year. I bought the Publisher workbook and interestingly enough, that workbook does not include a sample project to work through for a book cover, but the Photo workbook does.

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I can recommend Zevrix as a company as I use their LinkOptimizer InDesign addon. Good functionality and quick support (thank you, Leo Revzin!). I would like to hear though opinions about Checkpoint as I have not used it and there are not many alternatives for Acrobat for prepress preflight.

Zevrix has 50% sale one or two times a year and it is generally easy to find -20% coupon at any time.

It is possible to create cover design with AP but AP cannot add cropmarks which may be a problem. Publisher is the right tool for it anyway, and it is not a very complicated thing. Spine and flaps (if needed) take some consideration to get the measures right.

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14 hours ago, DesertDenizen said:

I bought the Publisher workbook and interestingly enough, that workbook does not include a sample project to work through for a book cover, but the Photo workbook does.

I've done a few book covers and (IMHO) while you can use Photo to design them, Publisher is easier! 😊

Acer XC-895 : Core i5-10400 Hexa-core 2.90 GHz :  32GB RAM : Intel UHD Graphics 630 : Windows 10 Home
Affinity Publisher : Affinity Photo : Affinity Designer (latest release versions) | Affinity Photo for iPad

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22 hours ago, wonderings said:

You should be able to do everything you need to do to create a print ready PDF without Acrobat DC. Are you using Acrobats preflight options to convert colours to convert to PDF/X?

If you are you can prepare your files the correct way from scratch and export PDF's properly from Publisher for print. I believe you can also have the PDF export for PDF/X right from Publisher so that should convert everything to CMYK in a standard acceptable for a print shop. 

If you have not already I would get the demos and try and create the jobs you would normally do, force yourself to use it, put in the time so you can know that it is a viable alternative to your current workflow, or it is not. I am thinking it will be once you understand it.

 

I bought the entire Affinity suite and have Publisher. I had not planned to use it for covers but that does make sense. I bought it because we're going to publish a heavily illustrated book later in the year, and I needed a proper layout application for it. The learning curve does scare me off a bit. I bought a copy of the Publisher Workbook and plan to work through one of the projects to get started. 

The covers I do, need only be in PDF form. I don't have to provide crop marks. I provide a full wrap-around cover PDF.

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6 hours ago, PaulEC said:

I've done a few book covers and (IMHO) while you can use Photo to design them, Publisher is easier! 😊

I have Publisher and the Publisher workbook. It'd odd that the Photo workbook (which I don't have) has a project to produce a book cover, but the Publisher workbook (which I do have) does not.

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9 minutes ago, DesertDenizen said:

I bought the entire Affinity suite and have Publisher. I had not planned to use it for covers but that does make sense. I bought it because we're going to publish a heavily illustrated book later in the year, and I needed a proper layout application for it. The learning curve does scare me off a bit. I bought a copy of the Publisher Workbook and plan to work through one of the projects to get started. 

The covers I do, need only be in PDF form. I don't have to provide crop marks. I provide a full wrap-around cover PDF.

Anytime you come up to something you want to do but don't know how to do ask here on the forum. Lots of people are happy to help and will most likely have an answer, work around or can let you know that is not doable at the moment. Best of luck!

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13 minutes ago, DesertDenizen said:

I have Publisher and the Publisher workbook. It'd odd that the Photo workbook (which I don't have) has a project to produce a book cover, but the Publisher workbook (which I do have) does not.

It's really just a matter of personal choice. I don't have the workbooks, and have no idea how or why Serif decide what projects to put in which workbook! There are many things that can be done, in different ways, in different apps. I don't think that just because Serif choose not to have a project on a particular subject in a workbook, it means that that app is not suitable for that type of job. 😉

As I said, I prefer to use Publisher for designing book covers (and the interiors), and Photo for editing images that I use on the cover. But that's just my choice, there's no reason why you can't do the whole thing in Photo if you want to, I just find the text layout, bleeds etc easier in Publisher.

Acer XC-895 : Core i5-10400 Hexa-core 2.90 GHz :  32GB RAM : Intel UHD Graphics 630 : Windows 10 Home
Affinity Publisher : Affinity Photo : Affinity Designer (latest release versions) | Affinity Photo for iPad

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I appreciate all of the feedback and input. I have set myself the task of starting to learn Publisher and Photo. I will also download the trial version of Zevrix preflight alternative. My goal is to get off of my subscriptions for Adobe. As I stated in my original goal is to get off of the Adobe products. That would save us $432 USD a year, an outrageous amount for a small independent publisher. To put that in context that is roughly the equivalent to the royalties from 43 books or would buy 10 additional ISBN numbers with nearly $100 money left over. I'm extremely motivated. Adobe pricing is simply exorbitant for a small business like ours.

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11 minutes ago, DesertDenizen said:

I appreciate all of the feedback and input. I have set myself the task of starting to learn Publisher and Photo. I will also download the trial version of Zevrix preflight alternative. My goal is to get off of my subscriptions for Adobe. As I stated in my original goal is to get off of the Adobe products. That would save us $432 USD a year, an outrageous amount for a small independent publisher. To put that in context that is roughly the equivalent to the royalties from 43 books or would buy 10 additional ISBN numbers with nearly $100 money left over. I'm extremely motivated. Adobe pricing is simply exorbitant for a small business like ours.

I do not think the price is all that absurd, it works out to $1.18 a day. If you are making profit, $432 should not be that big a squeeze over the course of a year. That being said it is always a good thing to get rid of those monthly subscriptions if you can and the replacement software does what you need it to do. 

Are you doing something specific that you need a preflight alternative? Publisher does have a preflight, I have not played with it a whole lot but from what I have seen it looks pretty capable of finding issues you may need to be looking for. 

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Thank you, I’ll look into Publisher’s preflight feature. That would be very helpful. Adobe costs in isolation are not bad, but a small publisher needs to control costs. It becomes a trade off. Purchasing ISBN numbers leads to revenue, as does marketing and advertising. Any costs that can be saved frees up funds to spend on other things. By controlling costs and overhead we can be bolder in what we choose to publish. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

What I would be very interested in - is how to design a simple book of poetry + cover using publisher but especially the handoff to printers.

Are there any specific tutorials out there that cover this aspect.

I have looked and can't really see any?

 

 

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I bought the Publisher workbook. It's great for learning the application and has a two part project to create the inside and the cover for an Alice in Wonderland book. I've just created my first wrap-around cover using Publisher and starting laying out a new book we're producing. I refer back to the guidebook often.

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35 minutes ago, DesertDenizen said:

I bought the Publisher workbook. It's great for learning the application and has a two part project to create the inside and the cover for an Alice in Wonderland book. I've just created my first wrap-around cover using Publisher and starting laying out a new book we're producing. I refer back to the guidebook often.

Thanks - I have also seen a self-publishing inDesign Book called Book Design Made Simple - 2nd Edition paperback - Raven and Collett which I have ordered from ebay 2nd hand. Apparently you can transpose some the advice into publisher. Apart from these two resources there does seem to be a hole in the market for the specifics of something like this. 

Edited by eyebeams
wrong link
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  • 2 months later...

Not immediately easy to find (at least, it was not for me), but Acrobat can also be purchased as a one-time purchase, that is, the "Classic" way. Licenses can also be purchased from discount software sellers.

Paolo

 

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Thanks! I have found that the, through this forum thread, that the  Affinity Suite does a very fine job of producing press ready PDFs. The only thing I have to research, and is completely outside the scope of the Affinity Suite is a low cost alternative for Adobe Sign. We still use that to get electronic signatures for publishing agreements.

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