Scrivener Picture Book?

Has anyone attempted to put together a coffee table picture book in Scriv 3? I have a friend who wants me to try. It consist of some text and a lot of photos. I would use InDesign in the past, but my old Mac pooped out, and the cost of an InDesign subscription to run on a new iMac with OS 11.4 Big Sur is beyond me. So far I’ve only used Scrivener for writing stories, not picture books. I wonder if the compiler could even handle that?

Sophisticated photo layouts and placed text? Scrivener definitely does not sound like the right tool for the job.

When Apple was still in the business of letting you build photo layouts in iPhoto and print them as books, I would have suggested that, if you are just talking snippets of text in a photo book. The company Apple had printing those did great work. I guess the ability to do that in Photos was supposed to be by third party extension. Don’t know if that ever happened.

Depending on the friend’s needs, (and if memory serves) there are outfits that let you lay these things out entirely online. They make their money from the printing order not the software to do the layout.

Thanks for the swift reply. I thought of that iPhoto app. It’s been replaced by Photos now, and it might work for a mock up, if they still offer that service, which I don’t think they do, since everyone’s gone digital… I did 12 pages in Apple’s Pages app, and it looks nice, but this book is destined for full color offset press printing. I used to do print graphics back in the daze… even before digital printing. It’s why I agreed to help my friend. I’ll keep looking! Thanks again!

Try Affinity Publisher for that.


Will do, thanks. Affinity it is!

There’s a learning curve, but it’s not too awful if you already know InDesign or another layout program. Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer are nice companions. All three open each other’s files.

I believe the Affinity apps are still on half-price offer, though it ends today, I think. I’ve deleted the email, so can’t check.


Given that we have a built-in template for writing graphic novels—and by no means can Scrivener itself actually put together what someone will hold in their hands and refer to as a graphic novel—I’d say it largely depends on how you intend to use Scrivener.

As several have noted above, if you’re thinking it is going to replace InDesign, it’s not.

But do you want to use Scrivener to gather images into a freeform corkbord like a “light box”, with the ability to jot down notes on cards around the images, write bits of prose as you’re inspired to do so, with the eventual goal of getting a photo order with paired poetry/text into something you can compile to a rough copy that you can take to Affinity and beyond? Then yeah, Scrivener might be a good tool for putting together a picture book!

Really when you get down to it, it’s no different than how it is a good tool for writing a biography. One isn’t making a book with Scrivener, they are writing the text for what will eventually be put into a book—and in most cases that should be done in other software.

Some tips:

  1. Go into the Behaviors: Dragging & Dropping settings tab, and make sure Link to images dragged from binder into editor is enabled. This will ensure the images are not fully embedded into the text, which bloats their size and can reduce stability and responsiveness when you’re working with a lot of them.
  2. Enable View/Text Editing/Show Page View, and then toggle the option below it, “Two Pages Across”.
  3. In File ▸ Page Setup... you’ll probably want to select a square-ish shape that is closer to how a coffee table book would use.

All right, now once you select a photo from the many you’re looking at, you can drag it in from the corkboard into the left page, insert a page break below it, and then do some writing on the right page. This isn’t page layout, but it’s close enough to give you an idea of whether or not your text will fit, and as well provides a visualisation that is close enough to the result that you can get a feel for what the reader will be experiencing. That’s one way of doing it of course, if the images are smaller and meant to mingle with text on the same page, you could sort of do that as well.

It’s going to get more difficult the more designed the page is meant to be of course, and how dependent upon that design the text quantity is. For some projects, writing into a DTP is the best solution.

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Thanks to all of you! I found the Serif site, investigated Affinity Publisher and I find it hard to believe they could pack so much in for $50. So I bought it for $25. It’s esactly what I was looking for. I love Adobe, but we became estranged when they pioneered the whole subscription based software paadigm. Now practically everybody is on that. It’s un-American, I tell you! :stuck_out_tongue: Capitalist 4 Ever!

Charging as much as they can get away with is the definition of capitalism.

Not really, but I get what you mean. The important part is: the story doesn’t end there. Competition made sure they won’t get away with too much in the long run. Ask Serif. Bet they love Adobe. I’d never go back to Adobe products, even if they started to undercut Serif’s prices (which they can’t). And I wouldn’t recommend them. Don’t know if this maximum greed strategy worked out for them. But that’s just me.

I just wish I could find a workflow for Publisher showing me how to import a book from Scrivener without losing all the structure.

That’s the program I don’t use (no need for DTP right now), so I can’t really help you with that. In theory the DOCX import should be good enough, but I don’t know the structure of your work.

In theory, yes, but I haven’t spent enough time to figure out the basics, much less anything else. As in Scrivener, help and manual articles fail to lay out the steps for using snazzy features to do anything useful (in my opinion). I started doing Scrivener workflows in Publisher and found it mind-numbingly tedious.

Have you tried their forum? I’ve seen Scrivener mentioned from time to time, so at least there should be users with the same questions.

I spent a few hours getting instructions on the forum and trying things, @November_Sierra, and I’d be glad to show you the messy results in a Zoom session. I’ve googled looking for someone to help me with Publisher for an hour, but no luck. Lots of “courses”, but no help.

I see. Do you have experience with other more or less similar DTP software (InDesign, QuarkXPress, etc.)? What I’m trying to ask here is… If there’s going to be a learning curve anyways, you should evaluate where you want to invest that time (and potentially money) first. Maybe Publisher isn’t the right tool to begin with.

Maybe Vellum is for you. A bit more pricey, but way less “techie”. It’s free to try. Either it does the job or it doesn’t, and you don’t need ten years to find out.

Another route could be TeX. Free. Lots of support. Definitely a steeper learning curve, more work upfront, but if you like a “set and forget” approach…