Jump to content

What is the best software/platform to write a coin book on?


Recommended Posts

I'm putting together a book on Macedonian shield coins and had started in word. A friend had told me that publisher would better suit my needs, fitting lots of different shaped images of iconography, maps... and a coin or two😉.

I'd never used publisher before. But buckled down and have been using it for some time. Until today. It's just too cumbersome. So I've switched back to word for now. 

Has anyone here self published, have a preference or anything that you would recommend?

I'm fine purchasing software that is worthwhile. I'm just not used to putting this type of information together outside of PowerPoint (for work and once upon a time school) and word. 

Any thoughts are appreciated. 

Here's the earliest known Macedonian coin with a shield on it:


THRACO-MACEDONIAN REGION, Uncertain. 5th century BC. AR Tetartemorion (6mm, 0.25 g). Primate crouching left / Pellet or shield within incuse square with slightly rounded corners. Tzamalis 67. Toned, patches of find patina, some granularity. VF. Rare. From the Jim Gilman Collection, purchased from John Jencek, 7 August 2009.

And a few favs, for fun:Screenshot_20230102_150839-removebg-preview.png.0470154491bb74f62a2c26c3a53f31c8.pngIMG_2889(1).jpg.1245d02bb5a8c5fad89f23c18b2b6329.jpgIMG_3066(1).jpg.7cd9faf6cbd4bb2f62b00459742085e6.jpgIMG_5752(1).JPG.366c4d520ebf68e0abecd0c49d06710b.JPGshare740345761544138738.png.1f64175d9736fa0e33a9953d5261386a.pngIMG_5771.PNG.a84d0a5744a8039d83300538d8f98a9e.PNGshare9116325628428216296.png.a83153c860661b17aaf6fb8fc030a1c6.pngScreenshot_20221016_141608-removebg-preview.png.d76a042074ac0f58aff99dc49f67ba37.pngScreenshot_20221202-192146_Chrome-removebg-preview.png.5d63526dc0a232b2ca68fb20cc8a1dc5.pngcCK736ExzZS882Ky9wENTLi5eJ4W3j-removebg-preview.png.fe769494faba8efe6c760d5c102f90b0.pngIMG_3914(1).JPG.3037cad327be4b0a269c7dea016ffd6c.JPG2229958_1633350129.l.jpg.b7ca480cf24f321b88941e292b85a75d.jpg

And the latest known ancient coin to have a Macedonian shield on it, and the only one known:


Geta. As Caesar,

AD 198-209.

AE (5.91g 20mm) MACEDON, Koinon of Macedon. Beroea mint.

Bareheaded, draped, and cuirassed bust right

Rev: Macedonian shield. Unpublished in the standard references. Singular example known. ★ Extremely rare ★

Ex Gorny & Mosch 191 (11 October 2010), lot 1769. Ex CNG auction 415 lot 312, Ex Demos 11 (1 July 2022) Lot 459, From the A. Czarnocka . Collection Warsaw



Edited by Ryro
  • Like 6
  • Thanks 1
  • Cool Think 1
  • Clap 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Ryro changed the title to What is the best software/platform to write a coin book on?
  • Benefactor

I've self published both novels and photo books, though what you have seems to be in between.

In answer to your question, I recommend Word (the desktop version for your uses not O365). Publisher is crap for what you're trying to do, which I believe you've already discovered. That being said, if you want to be truly professional, then you'll write the text in Word and format the book in InDesign. InDesign is not an intuitive program and can be painful. It's relatively easy if you're formatting is simple, but if you have a lot of illustrations and photos in line, then you may need to find someone who knows it well to do the job for you.

In terms of publishing, there are two options:

  • Offset printing. You print in large batches. When I last asked, the going number is 2000 books minimum but I've heard of printers that will do 1000 (and I've printed 1000 before but 2000 seems more common now due to high shipping costs). They'll expect your book to be designed with InDesign and will have strict rules about margins/etc. You'll need to pay for all books in advance and you'll need to either ship the books yourself, or you'll have to ship them to a warehouse that will fulfill for you. Note that offset printing, though more complicated, offers the cheapest per book cost.
  • On demand printing. Here, you generate a PDF and cover and then send it to the publisher. Each time someone orders the book, it will be printed. The two main places to do this are:
    • Amazon - makes it easy to do paperbacks and ebooks. Does not support hardcover. Libraries and bookstores cannot order from here, but it will be trivial to sell books.
    • Ingram Spark - allows you to sell to bookstores and libraries. More complicated than Amazon. Does offer hard covers.

For a recent book I published, we self-published on both Amazon and Ingram Spark. This is possible as long as the paperback prices are the same.

Note that you can hire designers to format your book, which I recommend. For a novel this usually runs about $250, but something with lots of inline photos and illustrations will probably be $500 or a bit more. You should also hire an editor. For reference, the cost for a 300 page (75k words) novel is about $3k, but I expect yours to have fewer words and cost less. For a cover, you can probably hire a friend since you don't need something incredibly fancy.

Personally, I would aim for on demand printing if you can. The following are the advantages:

  • You don't have to pay for 1k-2k books ahead of time
  • If you sell more than 1k to 2k books, then you're not out of stock while waiting for another print run
  • If you list on Amazon, then you're ordering and fulfillment are handled

The disadvantages of on demand printing are

  • The print quality is lower. If you have a lot of photos, a quality offset printer can generate a gorgeous product.
  • Your margin on each book is lower. Amazon takes a hefty percentage in return for handling the printing, ordering, and fulfillment.

FWIW, here are some titles I've printed on demand.


Here's one with photos that I printed with a traditional publisher, who used offset printing.


I've printed several other books with offset printing, but they were for charity and aren't available online. Here's an article about one of the books.

Looking forward to your book, and I'll definitely order a copy! Just think, every MSC you have will become a "plate coin"!

Feel free to message me if you have more questions.

  • Like 8
  • Thanks 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

For technical articles/theses I always used LaTeX - a somewhat user-friendly front end for TeX.


It's free and perfect for any kind of technical book - I'm not sure it's exactly what you need, but it's what I'd use, even to write up my collection of Roman Republican coins.

As mentioned, LaTeX is based on TeX, which was was written by legendary computer scientist Donald Knuth in the 1970s/early 80s to typeset "The Art Of Computer Programming", which has been a work-in-progress since the early 1960s.   These are the volumes I have, which I should get around to tackling someday.   Apparently, there's a volume 4B now which includes Fascicle 5 below and Fascicle 6.   Other volumes are planned - 4C, 5, 6, 7 - the RIC of the software world in at least the gargantuan task aspect.


You will find GUIs for LaTeX and online tools which compile LaTeX (https://www.latex-project.org/get/ - online) - I prefer the command line and vi for editing, so haven't used the GUIs.


  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Congrats on the project, sounds awesome!!

I don't think you use a Mac, but for others following along, I've found Mellel to be good for long book-length projects. (BTW, I found the learning curve on LaTeX to be not worth the effort... depends on how much technical stuff is in the text, e.g. equations etc.  Lots of that kind of thing would justify learning to use this.)

I'm low on MSCs (I generally leave them for you! 😉) but here's one for the thread:


Pyrrhos of Epirus as king of Macedon (274-272 BCE)

@kirispupis: Allen, King of Seattle looks like a ton of fun! And the Seattle book looks quite lovely. 👍

  • Like 6
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've written two technical books in Word (digital electronics and software) and I'm working on my third (coins). It's fine despite what some people say. The publisher took the last one and converted it to InDesign but they didn’t change any of the layout, fonts, numbering, etc, so I'm not sure why they bothered. Good luck

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...