Month: August 2011

Indexes for eBooks (are they necessary?)

I have been banging my head about this issue for a while now.

  • If my printed book has an index, should my eBook?
  • If the book was written and indexed in InDesign, how do I convert the index to clickable hyperlinks for my eBook?
  • Does an eBook index add any more value than the ability to search the digital book?
  • Isn’t the ability to search an eBook much more convenient and intuitive than having an index?

I have converted many types of books to eBooks (ePub and Mobi). Some have included short indexes. Some have no indexes. I have even done one where I included the print book index, but called it “Index of suggested search terms for eBook”, and did not make them clickable.

I am now working on a GIANT cookbook conversion for a 900+ page cookbook that includes an 80+ page printed index. Translated to ePub or mobi, this index list will probably be close to 1000 pages when viewed on a Kindle, iPad, etc. device.

Does this really make any sense?

After thinking about this for a while this morning, I have come to some personal conclusions about indexing for eBooks:

  1. Long indexes have no place in an eBook. The ability to search the content covers any need for it.
  2. A very short index is ok, as long as it doestn’t span more than a few iPad, Kindle, etc. pages.
  3. Printed indexes are convenient because you can quickly flip through the pages with your fingers to find what you are looking for. And then you go to that particular page in your printed book.
  4. Long indexes also tend to break eBooks when reading on certain devices, because it is just too much information for the device to handle.

I am curious as to other people’s thoughts on this subject.