I was hoping there was a sticky subject in this forum which would give me a quick leg-up on the various type-setting software out there.
My first five books I "typeset" in Word. The format was very simple and I'm very familiar with Word's limitations, so I was able to get around the worst of the problems. Even so, parts of my books were labor intensive.
My latest book is more complex. So I began exploring alternative type-setting software.
First I looked at Quark Express and Adobe's InDesign. I'd used them professionally before. Although very expensive, there are ways to get much cheaper versions. One is to buy the latest-version-but-one. Often with mature programs those are just as good as the latest, especially for the simpler and more basic tasks.
I was able to use both on a friend's computer, who is a professional printer contractor. I quickly decided that neither was for me. Though super-flexible and -powerful, the user interfaces are not very intuitive. Too, as is common with a lot of programs which grew in capability over the years, some of the options conflicted with each other. You would do some families of tasks a certain way, but another family would seem to be designed by a completely different team of programmers who had very different ideas of how to do those tasks.
Lastly I explored the lower end of the desktop publishing software. I read a number of reviews and comparisons and finally settled on four, downloaded review or starter editions, and put them to the test on my latest book. It's what I consider medium complexity, with various illustrations scattered throughout the book, a couple dozen chapters, and several tables and sidebars.
The top two are Serif's PagePlus X5 ($15 vs. $100 for X6 from Serif) and Microsoft Publisher 2010 ($73.36 from Amazon). I'm now testing these two. I'll eventually select one.
Does anyone here have experience with them? Do you have alternative suggestions?