Although nearly everything is digitized nowadays, book publishing is still a part of everyday life for many people. Throughout their long history, books have transformed lives, and today’s modern world isn’t any different in that respect.

The book publishing industry began all the way back in the mid-1400s when a German man named Johannes Gutenberg invented the first moveable type printing press. As the new technology spread across the world, it changed the way people spoke, maintained their records, and passed down their history. By the early 20th century, the industry had grown by leaps and bounds. There were small and large presses, especially in the Western world, and books became more specialized, especially in education.

Eventually, in the 1950s, paperback novels and books became popular. In fact, it’s often called “the paperback revolution” because of the number of books being printed and sold for both education and entertainment purposes. eBooks came along a couple of decades later.

If the name Gutenberg sounds familiar, it may be because of Project Gutenberg—a large online collection of free eBooks. Founder Michael Hart invented the eBook in 1971 and founded the site to “encourage the creation and distribution of eBooks.”

Because of the continued development of technology, books have become a regular part of life. In the U.S. alone, it’s a $27 billion dollar industry.

What’s Included in the Book Publishing Industry?

Books may feel like an old or outdated technology, but as an industry, there’s more than simple paperbacks or New York Times bestsellers.

According to, publishing is, “the commercial dissemination of literature or information in multiple copies and with the probability of multiple formats (e.g., paper, electronic, CD-ROM, microfilm, microfiche).” Publishing houses essentially distribute author’s creative content to an audience.

Within a publishing house, there are nine standard areas of operation:

  • Editorial
  • Design
  • Production
  • Publicity
  • Sales
  • Distribution
  • Contracts
  • Rights (e.g. translation, foreign republishing, & licensing)
  • Administration

Some of these may seem like small pieces of the whole, but all are important to the traditional publishing process.

Recently, self-publishing has been growing in popularity, too. Places like Amazon and BookBaby allow creators to publish their work at ow cost (or free) and distribute on a print-on-demand basis. For the sake of this discussion, this is a separate area of the industry that follows its own conventions and protocols.

3 Ways the Book Publishing Industry Uses InDesign

Book publishing is a long-standing industry that has continued to grow and branch out since printing became possible in the 1400s.

There are a number of professions within the book publishing industry, many of which are creative in nature. These jobs involve working with words every day, often quite a few of them.

For these word-loving experts, Adobe InDesign is a must-have program. The most common ways InDesign is used within the book publishing industry are for book covers, typesetting, book interiors, and eBooks.

Book Covers

Nothing can quite replace a first impression, which is why book covers are critical. Despite the old saying that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, many readers do. When design professionals in the book publishing world create these pieces of artwork, they have to be able to bring their creative vision to life, including text, images, and often other illustrations or images.

InDesign was built for publishing and publishing design, which makes it a no-brainer for designing book covers. Although it doesn’t allow for graphics creation like Photoshop or Illustrator, it’s the perfect place to combine all of the design elements together in a finished product.

In particular, InDesign allows artists in the book publishing industry to create a layout for the back cover, front cover, and spine using exact dimensions, making it easy to see how they’ll look as a finished product and where the fold lines will be. There are numerous tools for text and image handling, and the program even offers templates to get the project started, if you want or need them.

Typesetting & Book Interiors

When you read a book, chances are you don’t necessarily notice the typesetting unless there are interesting formatting features or something feels “off” about it. All the details that make a book easy to read such as margins, font, font size, and page numbers are specifically designed and typeset for each book.

InDesign specializes in long and text-heavy documents, which makes it ideal to create the interiors of books with hundreds (or even thousands) of pages. There are plenty of options within the program to create master layouts and templates for tasks like the first page of a new chapter so the Designer doesn’t have to redo that work every single time.

Because of the text focus, InDesign can work with many common file types, like .DOC from Microsoft Word, for easy import. When the text is in the document, publishing professionals can change anything about the appearance from adding drop caps or illuminated first letters in each chapter to changing the font and margins or even adding images and illustrations. Within the program, they can review how each individual section looks and adjust anything that needs to be different before the review takes place.


Although eBooks have been around since the early 1970s when the first Project Gutenberg scan was completed, they’ve become popular in recent years because of the widespread development of eReaders and mobile apps.

Like print books, publishing industry professionals can use InDesign to create the covers and inside materials for eBooks. They can also add interactive elements, such as a clickable, hyperlinked table of contents and resources for further reading.

One interesting note about eBook design in InDesign is that it can be saved as an EPUB file, which is what many self-publishers require. It’s the file type that most resellers like Barnes and Noble have for their eReaders. These EPUB files can be created as a responsive text, which means it automatically adapts to size and elements of multiple devices (like phones and tablets) or a fixed text that remains the same size no matter what—like a scan of a printed book.

Where to Learn InDesign Skills for Book Publishing

If you’re ready to learn InDesign, there are several good options in-person, live online, and as part of certification programs.

Noble Desktop offers several InDesign classes. For those looking to pick up knowledge quickly, InDesign in a Day might be a great option. If you want a deeper, more foundational understanding, Adobe InDesign Bootcamp is a longer, more comprehensive course. In addition, there’s a Graphic Design Certificate option, which includes InDesign coursework.

If you learn better in your own space, live online courses offer similar benefits to being in-person, with the flexibility of being able to learn from where you’re most comfortable and focused. You can use the Noble Desktop Classes Near Me tool to find live online InDesign courses or InDesign classes near you. The Classes Near Me tool is an easy way to see available training courses from reputable training programs in a specific subject area.