For several years, I have managed a five-chapter book in InDesign as 12 separate files organized into a Book (five 20- to 30-page chapters, plus all the front and end matter). It just seemed to make sense at the time.

However, after years of the mistake-ridden process of syncing, and syncing, and syncing, I'm beginning to wonder if I wouldn't be better off just combining everything into one big, happy document. (I suppose I wouldn't be thinking this if InDesign used the concept of a centralized stylesheet for styles, masters, settings, lists, formats, variables, presets, and swatches).

The only downside that I see to combining all the documents into one is the risk of file corruption causing a catastrophic loss of everything (as opposed to a catastrophic loss of just one chapter). I believe I can mitigate this by good use of version control software and by taking routine backups of my work.

What are the downsides to combining everything into one large document? What are the upsides to organizing a 130-page book into an InDesign Book?

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    For 130 pages I don't think there's a lot of upside to using the Book feature. Now 400-500+ pages it becomes more apparent. But for anything under 200 pages I, personally, never bother with the Book feature. – Scott Nov 17 '15 at 22:18
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    Having recently written my MA thesis (about 130 pages) entirely in InDesign as a single file, I would beg to differ with @Scott, at least as long as actively editing and updating the file is involved. I have never experienced such crash- and SBOD-prone behaviour from InDesign before, and I was kicking myself that I didn’t make it a book for days before I managed to finish it and get it shipped off. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Nov 17 '15 at 22:34
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    And of course, some books are just extremely graphic-heavy. I’m currently setting one that contains links to 2–300 MB TIFF files on more or less every page, sometimes up to four of them per page (it’s a 300 x 400 mm book). Anything above ten or so pages is a nightmare to work with—thankfully, the chapters are all short. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Nov 17 '15 at 22:36
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    hmm.. I never have any issues with under 200 pages, regardless of how graphics intensive the document links may be. – Scott Nov 17 '15 at 22:38
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    I just discovered a hidden downside: chapter numbering. I can create a custom list to hold my "chapter number" (which is not a real InDesign Chapter Number, which can have only one value within a document). I can use this "chapter number" in my "Chapter Title" paragraph style. But I cannot find a way to include my custom chapter number in a running head. This may be a deal-killer. – Cary Millsap Nov 18 '15 at 5:34

I work in a print shop that does layout for books and then prints them. Some of them have been up to 400 pages long, and the whole book (minus cover) is all in one Indesign file. As far as I know we have not had any problems with corruption or the files just not opening.

I think you would be perfectly fine to put this 130-page book into one Indesign document. Our 400-page books do not take very long to open up, so you shouldn't lose time with opening your document.

Honestly I have never heard of people separating the books into different files until I watched a Lynda.com video about ePUBS. Kudos to you for waiting for all the syncing! :)

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    My little 130-page project has become a 253-page project, and the one-file idea has worked very well. All the syncing was indeed slowly killing me. – Cary Millsap Jun 14 '16 at 20:36

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