Thinking I really ought to take advantage of the discount when making a first book from LR 4 with Blurb, I've just spent the last couple of days trying to work on a largish project in the book module.
Now I knew there were going to be some frustrations, like no variable layouts and the inability to put text on the page where I wanted, being the most obvious. Unfortunately using it in practice has been even more frustrating than I'd expected, but I have found a couple of workrounds I haven't seen mentioned before that others might find useful.
Some of the more expected behaviours won't work in the book module.
There's no ability to drag out of different collections from the collections panel in the book module.
No custom order in filmstrip.
It seems easiest to start your book by adding every image you could possibly ever think you might need. Then use the library filtering options to keep the number of images in the filmstrip manageable and relevant for the work in progress.
The sort options for the filmstrip are controlled by the sort options in the main library grid. If you apply a custom filter to the saved book's image collection in the grid in the library module only the filtered images will display in the book module filmstrip.
If you have a second monitor, you can use the filter options there to control what images appear in the book module filmstrip too and also drag and drop works from the second monitor onto the page in the book.
It is possible to add images to a saved book's image collection. The easiest way is probably by drag and drop in the library module. You can also set the book collection as a target (instead of the quick collection) for the keystroke B, but beware that this toggles images out of as well as into the book's collection, so be careful not to accidental remove any images already in the book collection or you might suddenly find some unintentionally blank pages when returning to the book.
No ability to align images in place holders
Poor previews of very large images, they look soft.
No 'show at actual size' for layout proofing.
Print out a PDF of the book. It might not be the quickest option as it's not possible to print any individual page, but the PDF will be accurate and can be viewed in actual size from Adobe reader (assuming it's configured correctly)
No history. Absurd, an absolutely crazy omission, but the only tool at your disposal is Ctrl+Z for undoing a series of actions, but don't overshoot as redo doesn't work.
No 'save as' option.
Who thought that missing 'save as..' or a history was a good idea ? Sack 'em.
The only way to create versions is to go to the collection panel, right click on the book's collection and use the 'Duplicate Book' option and then rename the new copy.
Page background colours;
By default only greyscales appear to be an option. To enable colour, click and drag on any of the RGB or S options that look greyed out on the bottom of the palette.
I suspect that the lack of soft proofing in the book module, added to the complication of use of CMYK colours in Blurb's presses, will lead to a few disappointments when trying to get blacks to be printed as expected in the final books too.
Overall trying to work on a big project in the book module is a nightmare. The book module feels a really version 1 feature of LR4. Hopefully on LR5 Adobe will correct some of the obvious omissions and get what should be a really useful feature up to speed.