I will tell you the way I produce books. It is a two-step process because to print a book you need to produce two files of different HV dimensions, so I do not think it can be done in single pass.
- I use class memoir for the text. With the ``twoside'' option, it will produce the content for odd and even pages,
with the correct margins: the spine margin (usually larger for taking into account the binding) is on the left side of an odd page, and on the right side of an even page.
I tried the LaTeX book class, but
memoir is a more complete solution for books and has a nice comprehensive manual.
(people said too large, not my view). The LateX pdf output as is, mostly works well for the press shop.
They will take care of the correct order of the pages to have the printed pages as you describe them, to bind them properly. Remember that you must have all the pages numbered, except for the blank ones, and not two consecutive blank pages.
- For the cover design, I sometimes use a graphics-oriented tool (even powerpoint once). It depends on the complexity of the graphics.
Of course it can be done in LaTeX. Many people produce a thesis cover that way. There are many fine examples in this forum.
The best tool I found to do it in LaTeX is the
xcoffin package. You will put everything in boxes and then you can assemble them as you like to design the full cover.
The package is easy to learn and the manual is very good (and short). With this unique package I got rid of many others and their incompatibilities that arise after an update or just before production time.
But like I said, the point is that to print a book you need two different files. The pdf generated by LaTeX, usually B/W with some shades of gray, and second file with the whole cover in full color.
This second file will have a single graphic with the back cover on the left, the spine in the center, and the cover on the right.
As you already mentioned, the width of the spine will depend on the number of folios, the quality of the paper used and the binding method.
Typically, the print shop will give you the specifications in terms of color space and bleed space they need around their art to safely center and cut the cover without touching your creation. I usually start with the Kindle Direct Publishing specs. They are well explained and secure, in the sense that they fit most printers I dealt with.
Note: If your intention is to do the printing yourself, with two passes in a laser print for example, then you can make an odd page file and an even page file or in the order you described. You can use acrobat or some other software to do that. Some laser printers offer two-sided printing. The people will then be able to assemble the booklet themselves.