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Old 08-30-2011, 04:39 PM   #1
MartinC
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The case of the missing TOC

Is it my imagination, or are there more indie Kindle books than there used to be without cover or table of contents?

Cover art is not essential. I personally like to have a "proper" cover - a good one can give you a feel for the story and the author before you begin, but I can see that none at all might be better than a poor one. Still, these books always manage to have a cover on their Amazon page, so why not in the book itself?

A table of contents, I would have thought, is essential (unless you have no chapters at all). At the moment I am reading a historical novel which does have a contents page, but bizarrely no hyperlinks. This is especially annoying because there are several appendices and a list of characters which I would like to refer to while I am reading. Tracking them down and bookmarking them is a real pain.

The Amazon Kindle Publishing Guidelines are clear that cover image and TOC are mandatory (though inevitably Amazon do nothing to enforce this - if only...). Are authors starting to use formatting systems that do not provide them, or are they just being lazy?
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Old 08-31-2011, 01:24 AM   #2
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It's pure laziness; there's no technical reason for it, and no excuse.
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Old 08-31-2011, 02:02 AM   #3
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There's an author I follow who publishes his works independently, and he recently took the foray into ebookland. His books had a skimpy table of contents, no links (despite being reference works), not even any tags specifying the title, author,... I gave him some feedback on this stuff, and in the replies it sounded like he had no experience with ebooks himself, and he'd just handed over his Word files to be automatically converted by the distribution site.

I think as ebooks become more and more popular, many authors will be feeling the pull to just get their books over there. However, until ebook publishing becomes mainstream for most authors, I can guess that we'll see many more books pushed through by people who don't have a real understanding of the electronic format's unique strengths.
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Old 08-31-2011, 02:53 AM   #4
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As I said, pure laziness. If you don't know how to produce a proper eBook, LEARN.
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Old 08-31-2011, 03:21 AM   #5
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Missing TOC ?

I know some of you might not like it (and in the mentionned case of a "non working TOC I agree it's "lazyness"), but some authors decide explicitly to not add a TOC in their book (or send it at the back) to allow a bigger part of the "story" in the Samples.
Note also that when correctly done, Epub manages TOC natively, hence making an "explicit TOC" unnecessary.
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Old 08-31-2011, 03:23 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by TheSFReader View Post
I know some of you might not like it (and in the mentionned case of a "non working TOC I agree it's "lazyness"), but some authors decide explicitly to not add a TOC in their book (or send it at the back) to allow a bigger part of the "story" in the Samples.
Note also that when correctly done, Epub manages TOC natively, hence making an "explicit TOC" unnecessary.
For a novel, I agree; a TOC is not vital. For a reference book, though, it's generally pretty essential.
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Old 08-31-2011, 05:52 PM   #7
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For a novel, I agree; a TOC is not vital.
It may not be vital to the reading experience, but it is vital to the perception that (for us indies anyway) we produce books that rival the big publishing houses in quality. It's hard enough to get people to search us out without giving them a half baked product to reward their efforts. We are on the cusp of a major societal shift here and if we don't act responsibly we are going to lose a great opportunity.
Us being independant authors of course.
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Old 08-31-2011, 06:16 PM   #8
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I know my way around html, and it took me a fair while to figure out how to get a working TOC. So I can understand why a lot of people either don't bother or just give up on it. A lot of the self publishing writers probably don't have their own ereader, so they won't know it has other uses other than jumping to a specific location. It wouldn't really surprise me if they were just uploading a doc file and letting the ebook site convert it for them.
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Old 08-31-2011, 06:18 PM   #9
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BTW, the missing cover could also be a cost saving exercise. Amazon charges the writer/publisher per byte in transfer fees when it sells, so removing a large image that hardly anyone will bother to look at makes a lot of sense.
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Old 09-01-2011, 02:54 AM   #10
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A lot of the self publishing writers probably don't have their own ereader, so they won't know it has other uses other than jumping to a specific location.
True. Though if they're going to offer their work to the public in that format the least they could do is get one. It's a basic part of the checking process. If they live in a garret like me they could use Amazon's Kindle Previewer, which is provided (free) for this very purpose. Are there similar packages for other ereaders?

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It may not be vital to the reading experience, but it is vital to the perception that (for us indies anyway) we produce books that rival the big publishing houses in quality. It's hard enough to get people to search us out without giving them a half baked product to reward their efforts.
Absolutely.
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Old 09-01-2011, 05:36 AM   #11
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I don't think it's so much laziness, so much as there aren't any readily available tools for the average person to create mobi books for Amazon.

You either have Kindlegen, which requires a knowledge of computers (it's a command line program) and HTML (knowing what ncx and opf files are), or you have a plugin for an extremely expensive professional layout program.

Amazon needs to come out with a WYSIWYG editor for Mobi.

I mean, yes, obviously someone could learn HTML and so forth, they'd rather, you know, be writing books.
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Old 09-01-2011, 10:13 AM   #12
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I mean, yes, obviously someone could learn HTML and so forth, they'd rather, you know, be writing books.
Goes without saying. But you proofread your writing, don't you? And polish and polish? Shame to waste all that.
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Old 09-01-2011, 11:07 AM   #13
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I don't think it's so much laziness, so much as there aren't any readily available tools for the average person to create mobi books for Amazon.

You either have Kindlegen, which requires a knowledge of computers (it's a command line program) and HTML (knowing what ncx and opf files are), or you have a plugin for an extremely expensive professional layout program.

Amazon needs to come out with a WYSIWYG editor for Mobi.

I mean, yes, obviously someone could learn HTML and so forth, they'd rather, you know, be writing books.
I think that is one advantage that ePub has. Some of the apps that people may already have are beginning to support it. I mean, InDesign isn't an uncommon app for those in the publishing world, and it supports ePub. Plus there is Sigil now, which works really well to make good epubs, without a lot of knowledge, and is free.
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