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The only way to export imposed PDFs directly from InDesign is through print booklet. But that only exports a .ps file, which has to be processed in Distiller.

Adobe recommends to create PDFs directly from InDesign, instead of using Distiller whenever possible.

That having been said, Adobe does not endorse or encourage use of PDF creation via distillation of PostScript from InDesign, Illustrator, or Photoshop. PDF created by export from InDesign or saving as PDF from Illustrator and Photoshop is much higher quality PDF, maintaining live transparency, color management, optional tagging, etc. PostScript generated by these programs is optimized strictly for direct printing to PostScript printers or RIPs, not for PDF generation!

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So I would prefer to skip the detour through Distiller. Is there any clever way to do that, or do I have to rely on plugins? If yes; which are the best / most commonly used ones?

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Adobe InDesign is not meant for creating reliable imposed PDF files. I always hate when I see an answer like "Why would you want to do that?" ... now I am guilty of asking it. For the last 5 years or so, there is no professional printer asking to deliver the imposition.

Please check this link, where you will see even the staff of Adobe passing the responsibility of imposing to the printer.

https://forums.adobe.com/thread/1281878?start=0&tstart=0

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Easiest, least expensive way.. (but perhaps more time consuming at the start)....

Export INDD file as single page PDFS. Open new InDesign document the same size, place each single page of the exported PDF in the correctly imposed location in the new document.

When you edit the original INDD file, export to a PDF with the same name in the same location and the links to the imposed file should auto-update when you open it.

I would agree though that it's been years since I've been personally asked to impose anything more than 4 pages.

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