I have been doing page design for years. Scribus is the currently the only page layout software that runs on Linux. I have used Linux for years so my first page layout software was Scribus. In the last two years I have used both Adobe InDesign and Affinity Publisher for book design projects. Sadly, InDesign and Affinity Publisher only run on Mac or Windows, so when using them I have to leave Linux behind. All three have all the features needed to create a good looking book or magazine. Why should you choose one over the other?
Why Scribus? ( https://www.scribus.net/ )
Scribus has good solid collection of page layout features
A good number of YouTube how-to videos make for a reasonable learning curve.
Scribus runs on Windows and Mac and is the only option that runs on Linux.
Scribus is free to download and use. No initial cost, no rental agreement.
Why Not use Scribus?
As an open source project with a small number of volunteer developers, changes, improvements, and new features happen more slowly than the paid alternatives.
Why Adobe InDesign? ( https://www.adobe.com/products/indesign.html )
InDesign is the current industry standard.
InDesign subscription comes with access to a huge number of fonts
InDesign has a good number of YouTube videos and training opportunities.
InDesign subscription comes with useful online tools to collaborate with customers or coworkers.
InDesign, is mostly installed and runs locally. But the license is checked over the web and will stop working if you stop your subscription.
Why Not use Adobe InDesign?
The biggest reason not to use InDesign is that it is a rental and the cost.
Why Affinity Publisher? ( https://affinity.serif.com/en-us/publisher/ )
Affinity Publisher has almost all the same page layout features as Indesign.
Affinity Publisher has a modern interface and has regular updates and fixes.
A number of YouTube how-to videos and active community forum.
Affinity Publisher license is not a rental – One purchase price and use it as long as you want.
Why Not use Affinity Publisher?
InDesign is the current industry standard used by more professionals than any other page layout program.
Can you use Microsoft Word ( https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/word ), LibreOffice? ( https://www.libreoffice.org/ ) or Google docs ( https://docs.google.com )?
The number one reason to use a word processor is that you may already know how to use it.
You will have used it for writing your manuscript.
Both Amazon KDP and Ingram Spark have tools to do-it-yourself starting with a word processor document.
Why Not to use Microsoft Word , LibreOffice, or Google docs?
You can do a lot with a good word processor. But there is a reason that professional book designers use page layout tools. While a Word Processor is designed to facilitate getting your words formatted for a printer, page layout programs are geared to creating print ready PDFs for professional printing. Different tools for different jobs. If Microsoft Word is a hand saw - Adobe Indesign is a laser guided miter saw.
Which is the better choice?
Like so many things the answer depends on what you plan to do. If you are doing page layout for you own book or a friends book Scribus has all the tools you will need. If you want to develop skills for a potential job designing books or magazines Adobe Indesign is probably worth the cost and learning curve. Affinity Publisher falls squarely in the middle and gives more features than Scribus , a more modern look and a modest one time cost rather than a monthly rental.
Feature differences that may matter:
Fonts - One of the features of InDesign is that access to a large collection of premium fonts is included in the subscription. But there are hundreds, no thousands, of good free or low cost fonts. Affinity Publisher and Scribus use the fonts on your computer and if you want another font you need to find a free font or purchase a premium font.
Collaboration tools – If you are designing a book or magazine for anyone other than yourself you will need to share the work in progress and get input from the author or others. At any point Affinity Publisher or Scribus can export a PDF of the work in progress. You can then email the PDF to others for review. A very workable process. It does end up with your client having a number of unfinished versions and possible confusion.
Adobe InDesign includes a web collaboration feature where the author or reviewer can see the work in progress in their web browser and make comments that are returned to InDesign. This is convenient and no files need to be exported or exchanged until the project is finished. The designer retains control of the project files until the final files are approved.
Given you take the time to learn the software any of the three will let you get a good looking book ready for sending to the printer.
I still like Scribus a lot. It is a solid choice and has the advantage of running on Linux (and Windows and Mac).
Affinity Publisher has all the page layout features you might need. It is far less pricey than InDesign. The affinity software offerings seem to have a main selling point of being sorta like Adobe, but not rental-ware.
From my point of view the collaboration tools are the ‘killer feature’ of InDesign and are the main reason I restarted my subscription to Adobe InDesign.
Self-published book into bookstores Is a good long article covering the issues and dangers of getting you book into bookstores.
“Many Authors want to get their book into hundreds (or even thousands) of bookstores across the country. It’s one of the most common dreams I hear from first-time Authors.”
“Today, being in bookstores doesn’t guarantee book sales—and it’s not the best way to make money with your book."
"Even if you can get your book onto thousands of shelves across the country (and most Authors can’t), you’re taking a huge financial risk—the kind that can bankrupt a self-published Author.”
Be sure to look at the section on books stores and the return of unsold books.
Disclaimer – I do not know anything about scribemedia.com or its offerings to authors but the article gives the clear unvarnished facts and is worth reading.
I think Ingram Spark just became my go-to for print on demand. I have always liked the quality of books printed by Ingram a bit better. Up until now because Amazon KDP print books had free setup and an easy approach to getting printed proof copies made going with Amazon KDP first seem smoother. All good reasons to go with Amazon KDP first or perhaps as the only printer.
Free Setup at Ingram Spark - Their new pricing now includes free setup and free updating, at least in the first weeks after a book goes live. While they have always had some 'free setup' offers it looks like this is a permanent change.
Why Ingram Spark over Amazon KDP? - Ingram has a more thorough file evaluation prior to printing and provides good feedback where there are problems. They seem to have tighter spines and over all a bit higher quality. Ingram claims to have the one of the publishing industry’s largest global book distribution networks including Independent bookstores, Online stores, Chain stores, Ebook retailers, Libraries and Universities.
- As a print-on-demand author - one person needs to ‘own’ the relationship with Amazon KDP or Ingram Spark. This includes giving them tax information, a bank account where royalties will go, and a charge card where author copies of the book will be paid for.
- Because Print-on-Demand (POD) is a technological and internet based process, the Author or some one they are working with needs to have a good working ability to do things on line such as filling out forms and uploading files.
- The two major POD printers are Amazon KDP and Ingram Spark. Both have similar, though not the same, requirements for interior and cover files. Both companies offer some online tools to allow creating of simple texts and cover designs using their tools.
- Amazon KDP and Ingram Spark allow for e-book, or print-on-demand printed books, or both. The design requirements for printed books is quite different from e-books. To issue you book as both requires two separate sets of files. One designed for print and one designed for e-book.
- People do judge a book by its cover. Professional cover designers can help improve the look of your book.
- Amazon is probably the worlds largest book seller but not everyone loves Amazon. Some indie-authors prefer Ingram Spark because they get international distribution ( including listing on Amazon) without being printed by Amazon.
- ISBN - International Standard Book Number. The ISBN is the thirteen digits long identifier used for identifying a specific book and format of that book. Both Amazon and Ingram Spark offer free in-house ISBN numbers. If you use the free ISBNs the book publisher is identifies as Amazon or Ingram. If you purchase your ISBN for your book you create your own publisher name / imprint just like the big guys. ISBNs in the US are supplied by Bowker ( https://www.myidentifiers.com/ )
- Author copies – books you buy to sell directly. As a print-on-demand author, you can purchase any amount of author copies at printing cost. Unlike traditional printers there is no minimum purchase and no discount for buying more books than you need.
- While a simple novel or poetry book can be submitted to Amazon using just a word file and their online tools, a really professional quality book needs more than that. Most professional books are designed using Adobe InDesign, Affinity Publisher, or Scribus. These programs provide the tools for carefully crafting the look of the book interior. Adobe Indesign is the current standard for page layout design tools. While InDesign is very capable it is also expensive. Scribus is an open source and free software package that provides the tools for professional page layout and design. Both are good. Scribus is a traditional software install where you download and install the software. Adobe is “sold” as a monthly or yearly rental (and will stop working if you don’t pay the rent).
- Fonts are another item that needs some thought. The fonts that come with your word processor are not always the best fonts for printed books. There are lots of print quality fonts for sale and also some very good fonts that are free.
- Proof reading is the authors responsibility! Proof read early and often. While there are pdf online reviews at both companies, I strongly recommend getting a printed proof of your book from Amazon KDP or Ingram Spark prior to making it go live. Amazon currently has nearly free proof copies (you pay for them at print cost).
- International shipping is expensive! Often more than the value of the book. Because print-on-demand books are printed locally as needed all around the world, sales to other countries print and ship locally. This makes selling a book world wide a cost effective reality.
Why are fonts so expensive? Why are there so many free fonts available? Who makes them and why? Gwern atempts to explain in https://www.gwern.net/Fonts "Fonts are a rare highlight in software design—stable, with well-defined uses, highly-compatible software stacks, and long-lived. Unsurprisingly, a back-catalogue of tens or hundreds of thousands of digital fonts out there, many nigh-indistinguishable from the next in both form and function.
Why, then do they all cost so much, and who is paying for them all, and even going around commissioning more fonts?
The casualness of the highly marked-up prices & the language around commissioned fonts strongly points to designers spending client money, largely for the sake of novelty & boredom, functioning as a cross-subsidy from large corporations to the art of typography. The surplus of fonts then benefits everyone else—as long as they can sort through all the choices!"