Help with Disappearing Books in Lightroom 4

Lightroom 4 includes the ability to easily create and publish photo books. While many Lightroom customers have enjoyed creating photo books inside Lightroom, some have reported a disturbing bug about which I’d like to provide additional information.

The Issue

While working on a page spread that contains a caption with multiple colored text, the book can disappear.

To Avoid the Issue

  • Update to Lightroom 4.2 immediately. Lightroom 4.2 contains safeguards that may aid in the recovery of a lost book. To update, please either use the Help-> “Check for Updates” menu option within Lightroom or download the update here [Windows, Mac]
  • Avoid using multiple text colors within the same text box

Recovering a lost book

  • If you are using Lightroom 4.2*, this warning will appear.

  • Click “Cancel”.
  • Quit Lightroom 4.2.
  • The warning will appear again. Click “Cancel” again.
  • Restart Lightroom.
  • In the Book module, your book will be there.

*We are not aware of any methods to recover a lost book in either Lightroom 4 or Lightroom 4.1. Please update to Lightroom 4.2 through the Help->”Check for Updates” menu option within Lightroom or download the update here [Windows, Mac]

Next Steps

The Lightroom team is currently researching and evaluating this bug to ensure that there are no other ways that it can be triggered. Our aim is to include a fix in a future update to Lightroom 4. In addition to the feedback we received from the Lightroom community and feedback forums, I’d like to also personally thank two Lightroom customers who played a critical role in helping us isolate and better understand the bug. Alan Shapiro and Marko Nara, thank you for all of your help in getting to the root of this issue.

51 Responses to Help with Disappearing Books in Lightroom 4

  1. alan shapiro says:

    Woohoo. Go team.

  2. Blaine Baggett says:

    Dear Sharad Mangalick,

    Add me to your list of victims of Lightroom’s Book module. I was about, oh, I don’t know, maybe 150 pages into a book I’ve worked on for several weeks when Lightroom began getting cranky. This morning I was working (mostly on captions). I moved some pics from one file to another and then was reconnecting the links and then ‘poof!’ Nada. The Void. Has Adobe put out a product that has no backup option at all? Not even to the previous work flow? And no warning of this whatsoever? If so, shame, shame, shame.

    Adobe, you owe me.

    • Pete Green says:

      Sorry to hear of the book being lost. It is very frustrating, scary, and startling to have that kind of thing happen to you.
      We’ve made changes in LR4.2 to stop this from happening, but if you were prior to 4.2, you wouldn’t have had the messages pop up.

      So update to LR 4.2 as soon as you can, and read about what is causing the books to disappear to be able to avoid it… “Avoid using multiple text colors within the same text box”

  3. Patrik says:

    Same thing happened to me without warning, with version 4.2 [850741]. But the book is empty and the filmstrip at the bottom of the page is there indicating images are in the book.

    • Marko says:

      I just had the same issue…and I do have 4.2 version. I have NO captions in my book since I did them all in photoshop and imported psd files to avoid this (t)error.

      This was a 220pg book, and a second one that disappeared. You do not owe me, you definitely lost me as a customer. I’ll definitely look up for the alternative software.

  4. mitch says:

    Similar thing happened to me yesterday. I was not using any text, nor was I copy-pasting stuff around. All I was doing was select layout for the current page (I fill the book with pages using same most used layout at the beginning) and place photos from filmstrip using drag and drop, and I rarely switch photos or pages.

    The book kept it’s layout, but was missing photos, and in the filmstrip below there were still numbers indicating used photos.
    I used those numbers to select used photos and make a new collection named “used”. With the layout I saved a copy of a book, numbers were now gone. I then removed all the photos and copied photos from “used” collection and was able to replicate the book I was working on for 5 days in one day. Not all was completely lost but made me do some changes in catalogue settings; BACKUP EVERY TIME LIGHTROOM EXITS!!!

    System details:
    Lightroom version: 4.2 [850741]
    Operating system: Windows 7 Business Edition
    Version: 6.1 [7601]
    Application architecture: x64
    System architecture: x64
    Physical processor count: 4
    Processor speed: 3,0 GHz
    Built-in memory: 6142,4 MB

  5. Antony Matusch says:

    I am in the middle of producing a complex 140 page book. i have just lost a copy but have backups (duplicate books)
    Is it safe to upgrade to 4.2 in the middle of a book?
    I saved the book at an earlier stage as a PDF successfully but trying again yesterday and today it rejects it at the end of the process. What do I do?

  6. I use LR 4.2 and I was just about to finish my first book with it. When I’ve opened LR today it showed me only blank pages, text, colors and so on but no pictures. The filmstrip on the bottom indicates the pictures I had used so far but they won’t show up again on the pages no matter if I restart LR or save a book, export a PDF or whatever. I hope I can recover the project using TimeMachine on my Mac. I’ve been a heavy user of LR from version 1.0 on. I can tell you this issue is really disappointing me.

    • Pete Green says:

      Hi Tobias,
      Are you using multiple text colors within the same text box?
      That was one of the known causes for books disappearing and is mentioned above as one of the things to avoid.

      If you aren’t, then perhaps you could post on our feedback site so we can look further into the issue.

  7. diana says:

    ditto! not once, but twice. i was putting the final touches to my blurb book and abracadabra, it was gone. taking the appropriate time to recompose myself, i embarked on the project a second time only to have it pull a disappearing act once again. i realized that when this happened, on both instances, i was copying text from another book and pasting it to my new one. i can assure you that i don’t do that anymore!

    • Pete Green says:

      Are you up to date with Lightroom Diana? 4.2? or 4.3RC?
      Since 4.2 we’ve put in some catches so that you won’t lose your book.

      • Jim Nelson says:

        I have also lost two books that I had saved in collections and was thirty pages in on a third book. The next thing I new it gave me a warning that there was an error and I would have to close Lightroom 4.2. I was expecting to lose my current changes and Addition. What I
        Found was my two books which were saved in my collection and the new book where gone.

        I search the Internet for similar problem and found this site. There is definitely a bug in v4.2.
        Looking for answers. I lost a lot of work.

  8. I have lost several books. This last time I was adding a page when I lost it. Thankfully I wasn’t too far into the book. Each time I have lost a book it had nothing to do with different colors on the text. One time I was copying and pasting text, another I was moving a photo.

    I have made it a habit to make duplicate copies of the book and constantly make backups of Lightroom when I am working on a book.

  9. Catherine says:

    I have the latest version of LR4 and did not use multiple text colors and still lost the images to my book. The format per page and text is all visible…just no images. How do I get them to reappear????

  10. Rod Kaye says:

    I have been having all sorts of issues with the Book module. For a book that I had created, my pages would not export to jpg when I hit the “export to jpg” button. I tried also exporting to PDF and had a similar problem. I’m running LR 4.2 on a Macbook using OS 10.6.8…

    Today when going back to try my luck again with exporting the book, the book was gone! My book icon was still there, but no book pages…Unbelievably upset right now. I have no idea what to do.

    Could I possibly uninstall and then try and re-install LR 4.2? Any help or idea’s would be greatly, greatly appreciated!

    Thank you.

    Rod Kaye

    • Rod Kaye says:

      One additional piece of information concerning my above post; the book that disappeared only contained text on the cover (white) and no where else…

      I’m also hoping to be able to recover it through TimeMachine, but almost the bigger concern is not being able to export the thing when I need to which truly leaves me in lerch and wasting valuable time.


  11. Ben says:

    Hey, i already ask in the support forum, but they told me, that there is no option to recover a lost book. Now I am reading here, that there might be a chance to get all the work back… so what should I do? I was on 4.2 when all the pages of a book went blank. I did not get a pop up or a message or whatsoever. Just upgraded to 4.3 RC in the hope, it would change my situation – but still the same white pages here. Is there a procedure to bring the vanished pages back?

  12. Ferenc says:

    I am LR 4.2. user with the same problem… My book I have worked on 2 months was gone. Where LR 4 saves the books? I cannot find the file, cannot recover my book. I am VERY disappointed.

  13. Jill says:

    I’m also a victim. I am using LR4.2, and I followed the instructions above and it did not restore my book. I am DEEPLY disappointed. I lost 2 books that I had worked on for many hours. When I go back to the book, it has the little numbers above the photos like they are being included in the book, but the book is empty. When I lost everything, I was simply putting the text on the spine of the book. It was not oriented correctly, so I looked at the settings on the book I had just finished. When I went back to the first book, all was gone. I went back to the second book, and everything was gone there too. I was not using multiple colors of text. Please tell me if there is ANY way I can recover this! Blurb’s Christmas deadline is in 3 days and I have about 5 more books to finish! I don’t know what I can do now because I sure don’t trust LR!

  14. Working on a 230 p book in LR 4.3RC

    No problems until now.

    on the last pages I am using the image grid but every time I go to Library, Develop or something else and back to the saved book – my last changes are gone??

    This issue prevents me from finishing the book.

    Any advice?

  15. Aaron Sivertson says:

    Same issue others have reported — I’ve lost two wedding albums in the last half hour. When switching to the layout, all photo cells are blank. All of the photos on the film strip are marked as used, but all cells are blank.

    It is NOT an issue with text boxes or colours of text, as I have NO text boxes or captions whatsoever. This is the 4th and 5th times this week that I’ve lost wedding albums (in the pre-Christmas printing rush!!) to this bug.

  16. Tim Fisher says:

    Two corrupted uploads / pdf’s.
    “No updates are available”, ergo LR 4.2 is up to date.

    1) a single image on a double page, no text in the entire Book aside the back page.
    My Image over two pages was inverted on the Blurb layout.
    I did output a pdf.

    Solution: delete double page.
    Insert a new double page. Reload the image.

    2) 24hrs later the next upload was fine. Not.

    A different double page spread is corrupted, again, with one image on the double page layout, again, no text, the R page of the image was inverted!

    A pdf was produced. This time, the issue was the L page / side of the double page image was inverted, the R side was fine!

    This is not clever.



    One last attempt and then I go elsewhere.

    Your suggestions are?


  17. skip moss says:

    Just got here looking for an answer. Same thing happened, although I lost TWO books. I was copying boiler plate inside cover text from one to paste into the other, all the same color text.. Copy, change books, “Poof” all work gone. Back to first book, “Poof”, all gone too. I thought the ease of LR and Blurb would speed up the process from InDesign. Frustrating doesn’t come close. No save function, weeks of work gone, TWO books vanished, all text gone for good. Glad I have a trust fund to fall back on…I wish. I thought it was a joke at first. PLEASE fix this asap so I can use LR again. Yes I will update to 4.2, but it’s a little late. Let me know if there’s any answer to this.

    • Pete Green says:

      Sadly we wont’ be able to find the books that have vanished. They have done just that — Vanished.

      Go ahead and update to LR 4.3 and hopefully you won’t see any more book trouble!

  18. skip moss says:

    Follow up. You were correct, there were two colors, black and a medium gray I missed during my first rant. I have found previous copies of the books on an earlier .lrcat file from one week ago. Not complete, but not total losses. Since the file is a week old I would like to update my current catalog with the weeks images. How do I import the good books into the latest catalog without the corruption? I have updated to 4.2.

  19. Still the same problem with the new 4.3 Update..
    Any experience about this issue?

  20. Jon says:

    Help! I’m in Lightroom 4.3, and I just lost my book. I know it’s in there somewhere because the images in the filmstrip that are in the invisible book still have the overlay numbers on them showing how many times they appear in the book. But the book module shows only empty pages. I had saved my book as a Book Collection, and I’m in that collection. I never (knowingly) used multi-colored text in the same caption. All I did was change the filter so I could use some pictures from another collection in my book, and when I clicked back on my Book Collection, the pages were all gone. I tried quitting and restarting as suggested above, but that didn’t fix anything. Please help. This is awful.

  21. Kevin Long says:

    Well, I got hit by this…. in 4.2.
    But unlike the original post suggesting how to avoid the problem, I have zero captions in my book, and one page color througout. The book is also finished — exported to PDF. Went back to make a few changes the next day and the book is blank. The images still show counts in the filmstrip, and the book still shows 192 pages with the right layouts on the right pages, but the entire book is blank. It’s a ghost town… er, ghost book? Is this like having a ghost writer?

    The theory that 4.2 fixed this (book was made in 4.2), that I would be prompted before deleting pages (never happened), and that editing captions or messing with page colors would cause the problem (same white background on 100% of pages, not a single layout with a caption), seems to not match my situation.

    Am I hitting a different bug? Should I log this independently?

  22. Phillip says:

    While updating book copy, pages 1-21 OK (except now I’ve lost all the copy on introduction page), pages 22-36 vanished. Using Lightroom 4.3, Windows 7, 64 bit. All inside copy consistently dark grey. Other weirdnesses include: when attempting to re-populate the disappeared/missing pages I get an indication that there are two images being used in the document. Another weirdness is that some of the type specs (font, size, tracking) when I highlight the copy does not properly identify the actual body copy font, size, and/or tracking. Another weirdness is that I am unable to zoom image to fill at 6%. Goes from 5 to 7% at 100% or 4:1. Book originated with Lightroom 4.2.

  23. Sherwood says:

    I am using Lightroom 4.3, Windows 7 64 bit. I created a blurb book in November 2012 with Lightroom 4.2 and succesfully had it uploaded and published on Blurb. I made a PDF file at the same time which was also successful. Yesterday, I tried to update the book. I added several new pages and changed the page format on some of the existing pages and found that several pictures had gone missing. When I tried to create a new PDF version of the book, Lightroom tells me that it is doing so, but after running for 8 hours, northing happens. I shut down lightroom, backed up my catalogue and restarted it. When I went to the book section and tried to create the PDF file, I had exactly the same results.

    • Sherwood says:

      As an update, I found my problem… I had several programs open and one of them had a dialogue box open waiting for a reply from me. After closing the dialogue box, the PDF was quickly generated. Sorry for dragging a red herrring into this thread.

  24. Andrew Jameson says:

    I am using LR4.3 which is the most recent version. On a 78 page book I cannot complete work on the remaining pages (they are inserts). All work that I do is fine on the screen but later on when I come back the pages are blank. This seems to be similar to messages about 4.2.

    I am very surprised because I always thought Adobe products were the most reliable around and this is the .3 version of 4.

  25. Andrew Jameson says:

    Further details about this bug. When the photo reappears in book (as the caption goes away) the photo is not in the right place. The system has forgotten that the photo was dragged a few points up the page. This has a relation to the caption, because the Photo caption is now out of bounds (it was meant to be 58 points below the photo, which was the right place as long as the photo was in its right place)

    Another thing is that the system has got muddled up about how many yellow boxes to show for captions – it shows up to three at once, which wasn’t previous behaviour and the link between what is showing on the screen and the page caption and photo caption input screens doesn’t seem to be normal.

    Any advice as to how to recuperate and finish building this book would be most gratefully received.

    P.S. I have also (sometime earlier in work on this book) received internal error messages about code, though they did not prevent execution. Generally, this is not what I expect from Adobe based on past experience, which was always good.

  26. Andrew Jameson says:

    Furthermore when working on one of the photos in Book mode which is causing the trouble (disappear after insertion) I have now twice experienced and unrequested jump into Library module when trying to insert a caption. The caption begins with D and I have the impression that the jump occurs when typing D

  27. Andrew Jameson says:

    I am pretty sure that what is happening is that data being stored in two places. This is because there are three thin line boxes showing on the screen for places where Photo Caption and Page Caption are supposed to be. Also, the problem one seems to be Photo Caption, which shows up in two putative locations instead of one only, properly bound into the input box.

  28. Andrew Jameson says:

    The sequence that is causing “Unexpected error performing command: ?:0: attempt to index a nil value is

    Paset a layout towards a page (this creates an extra page) the error occurs when using Remove Page so as to be left only with the page with right layout.

  29. Fergal O'Callaghan says:

    I frustratingly also lost a book on LR 4 version 4.2.
    It’s fantastic to have a book module but it’s very badly designed.
    When you save a book you collection get’s locked.
    To add photographs you have highlight the collection as a target select the photographs you want to add and press “B”.
    I only found this instruction on an internet page of some expert.
    It’s not in any of the books (the best selling ones like Martin Evening) and its not on Adobe Help (at least not easily findable).
    I couldn’t believe when I got to the end of the book that Lightroom crashed and I lost everything and had to start again.
    It’s a flaky module that really needs a proper update with some more drag and drop capability to add photographs from different folders.
    It also needs more flexible templates for shapes.Most of the templates cause a crop to a normal photograph.
    Great addition to lightroom but looks flaky and unfinished and frustratingly lacking in detailed instructions.
    Kind Regards

  30. Tom says:

    Last night I lost a 140 page book that was 70% complete in terms of captions etc.

    Yes I had different colour text on pages light and dark grey on a single page, or used white text against dark images.

    But the problem occurred when I decided to straighten an image. I switched to the Develop module, used the perspective correction tool and returned to the book module to find nothing there. Haven’t tried back ups yet, but extremely annoying to lose tens of hours of work.

  31. John says:

    LR 4.3 clearly didn’t solve this problem. This morning I finished a 100 page book in LR 4.3 and was waiting for my client to come in for review and approval. While waiting, I did some other tasks in LR, including editing an image in CS 5 and saving it inLR. When I went back to the book module, my book had disappeared. The film strip shows all of the photos with the number of times they were used, but the screen is blank. HELP!

  32. Nicole says:

    I am completely and utterly devastated. Hours upon hours upon hours of work on photobooks of my little baby and I have lost it all. I am using version 4.1. I can’t stop crying.

  33. Rosanne says:

    While making my first Blurb book in LR 4, I clicked Create and Save halfway (I used 60 of the 120 photos in my collection) into the book because I didn’t see another save function and was afraid to lose it. What then disappeared from the filmstrip were the remaining 60 photos I hadn’t yet used. I could not get the book and the remaining 60 yet unused photos to appear in the same view, even though the drop-down view choices suggested that I could see that combination. I finally deleted the book and have to start over again.
    How do I save the book while I’m working on it but prevent the remaining photos from disappearing?
    Thanks for any input.

  34. Dan R says:

    Using LR4.3RC. Worked for 5 months on my book. Exported it to PDF, LR hung. Went back in, made a couple of changes but noticed it was acting very strange, taking nearly 2.5GB of ram in memory and closed. Open LR up again after a reboot, ever single bit of text is gone from the book. Only took me 5 months to write the book, and now it’s all gone. Luckily I kept the text in a Word document. Text in the document was only black, not different colours.
    Adobe, I am bitterly disappointed at this. This has to be fixed as people are pouring their life’s work into this application. I am not alone in this.

  35. Linda Grashoff says:

    I’m seeing type spec problems, too. The type face indicated in the right panel is not what is in my text or caption boxes, and clicking on the type preset sometimes grabs the wrong font.

  36. says:

    Does your bugware accomodate multiple fonts ?
    I guess I’ll got back to powerpoint

  37. Peter Nowak says:

    Many, very many swear words come to mind. We’ve used various software for our wedding books, Graphistudio, also the bespoke Blurb’s program. This was the first Lightroom book and it crashed after putting in 170 pics.
    Yes, it was ver 4.0, it had 2 font colours (black & white), yet, we won’t be upgrading having read this forum.
    Bitterly disappointed and furious at all the time lost.

  38. KS says:

    Uggh. I thought I lost my photobook too, but then it sort of came back.

    I was creating a book – even made a duplicate. I tried to export to PDF. LR crashed.
    Restarted it. All photobooks were blank.
    Suddenly, after a few minutes, the blank book that was “lost” started showing up again. A “collecting information” status bar showed up. Suddenly the pages were there.
    I am running 4.4.

  39. TW says:

    I lost a book in LR5. No warning. Seemingly no way to recover. The photos in the collection still indicate that they have been used in the book but all the pages other than the cover have been lost. Unstable x.0 software is one thing, but contiuing with the module design from the last version that doesn’t allow you to back up or recover lost work is just rubbish coding.