Bibisco Review – An Affordable, Open Source Solution

Posted on Feb 13, 2024

Avatar Of Hannah Lee Kidder
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Writing a novel is a complicated process that can involve managing multiple plots and timelines, juggling characters and their POVs, tracking items, setting up foreshadowing and red herrings and twisty turns. The great news is—there are tons of apps and programs out there to help!

One such program is Bibisco. Let’s look at what they offer, pricing, reviews, and whether we think it’s worth a try.

What is Bibisco?

Bibisco is a small, indie software designed to help writers get started and keep rolling on their novel drafting journey. You can organize your work, plan, draft, and design within Bibisco. It is available for Windows, MacOS, and Linux.

What services does Bibisco offer?

Bibisco gives you all the elements you need to draft, edit, and share your novel. It has a distraction-free editor, comprehensive analysis features, and world-building tools to help you start and finish your story strong.

Unique features of Bibisco include:

  • Relations board to track characters, places, objects, and their relationship with one another
  • Character interview questions for writers to develop the physical aspects, inner workings, attitudes, social groups, and many other pieces of the character
  • Image support
  • Analyses for character distribution and frequency
  • Narrative strands to follow your story 

Bibisco Pricing and Reviews

Bibisco has two tiers—community edition and supporters edition. The community edition is free forever, but the features are limited. It’s also worth noting that the community edition offers a free 30-day trial of a full-access account.

The supporters edition opens up much more of the program at a one-time fee of $47, with 2 years of free updates and a 30-day money-back guarantee. That’s a great deal, which is good, because the limited features of the community edition leave many basic tools to be desired—like a dark theme, find/replace, and distraction-free mode.

Essentially, the community edition is good for testing the waters, but you won’t want to set up camp there.

Community Edition — FREE

  • Unlimited projects
  • Premise, fabula, setting, narrative strands
  • Characters interview
  • Locations
  • Chapters and scenes
  • Analysis
  • Export (pdf, docx, txt, archive)
  • Automatic backups

Supporters Edition — $47 one-time payment

  • Unlimited projects
  • Premise, fabula, setting, narrative strands
  • Characters interview
  • Locations
  • Chapters and scenes
  • Analysis
  • Export (pdf, docx, txt, archive)
  • Automatic backups
  • Mind maps
  • Timeline
  • Groups
  • Unlimited Notes
  • Objects (magic wand, gun, treasure map…)
  • Profile picture for characters, places, and objects
  • Customized questions for character interviews
  • Prologue, epilogue, and parts
  • Chapters: move scenes to another chapter
  • Dark theme
  • Search, Find/Replace
  • Sequel creation
  • Distraction free mode
  • Novel reading mode
  • Writing goals
  • Export to EPUB
  • Additional fonts

Users love Bibisco’s relations function, the character interviews, and the world-building tools. They’re not so wild about the look and feel of it.

Reviews are mixed—some have tried it and “don’t like the look of it,” so they gave up on using it. Others have been using it for years, though it took them “a while to get ‘into’ Bibisco’s workflow”.

Overall, Bibisco might be an acquired taste, but the taste is good enough to keep folks around long-term!

What are the alternatives to Bibisco?

If Bibisco sounds almost right for you, but not quite, here are a few other options to consider.

LibreOffice: If you’re interested in Bibisco as a free, open source drafting option, you could also check out LibreOffice. It’s essentially a slightly uglier version of Microsoft Word without the data breaches.

NovelPad: If you like Bibisco’s timeline, tracking, and organizational features, NovelPad might be for you! This software also offers a ProWritingAid integration for grammar checks. While not free, NovelPad is a very small company known for its accessibility and community efforts, which is a big plus.

Wavemaker: Wavemaker is free on desktop or mobile. It’s a simple, minimalistic solution for planning and organizing large projects, fiction or nonfiction.

Reedsy Editor: Simple and easy to use, Reedsy is a web-based app with the basic tools you need to write, edit, and format a book.

Google Docs: Google Docs is a free, easy-to-use alternative to Bibisco that you can access on any device and easily share with others. If we’re worried about data mining, though, ehhh. And shockingly, this company is neither small nor indie. But it is free!

yWriter6: This program has many similarities to the ones previously listed, like separating your story into chapters, auto saving, and progress tracking, with extra features like auto chapter renumbering and conflict/outcome fields for each scene.

Bibisco Review – Closing Thoughts

Bibisco is a community-oriented company and a complete labor of love. The 30-day free trial is a great opportunity to check it out, and a one-time fee is rare in the realm of writing software.

Its unique features like the character development interviews and timelines make for a controlled and customizable writing experience.

There are drawbacks to using open source software, like a fairly unattractive interface, buggy behavior, and limited tech support. These are likely the reasons some reviewers bailed upon first inspection, or had to take a little while to acquire a taste for Bibisco.

Overall, open source software is an amazing resource, you can tell that the developers really cared about the product, and it’s great to support small companies. While it may be rough around the edges and take some time to get used to, Bibisco has features completely unique to any other writing software I’ve seen, and for that alone, it’s worth checking out!

If you’re still trying to decide how you’d like to write and publish your novel, we can help. Click the image below to discuss your book plan with a publishing strategist.

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