Ebooks: To Link or Not?

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A reasonably common question I see on various Kindle publishing related forums is about the use of hyperlinks in the book.  It’s easy to include them, and for non-fiction books, it’s possible to link to a great deal of useful information outside of the book itself.  What’s not to like?  Well, several things:

  • The Kindle’s browser is not very fast.
  • Your readers may not even be somewhere where they can connect to the internet – on an airplane for instance.
  • It’s distracting to fire up the browser and go visit an external web page.

One easy way around this problem is to add your links in footnotes in the book, or perhaps a notes/references section at the back of the book.  This way, your users still get the value of your links, but don’t get interrupted from the flow of your book.

Another bit of advice: since your book may be sold for years to come, try and link to content that’s going to be there a few years from now, at the same address.  Things like Wikipedia, government, or university sites likely are in this category, whereas someone’s Myspace page probably isn’t something you can count on existing in the same form a few years in the future (anyone remember Geocities?).

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