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Hyperlinks within EBooks -- Good, Bad, or it just really depends...


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#1 AQCrew

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 01:15 AM

General Call Out to the AQ Community: Do You... Would You... Could You... Click on Hyperlinks within an Ebook?

And if so, how does your current eReader handle them?

---------------------------------

We like to always think about ways that your eBook can and should be different than a regular print book.

The most obvious way is your ability to include hyperlinks inside your eBook.

You can do this by including the hyperlink in your MS Word doc, which will hopefully get transferred to your eBook -- whether you converted it into a Kindle file or an ePUB yourself or whether you simply upload your MS Word directly to Amazon, Smashwords, B&N, etc.

We Googled this idea and found this very basic YouTube video that shows how to create hyperlinks within your MS Word doc:

That said, the obvious way to use this feature is to have your author website or social media handles (Twitter, Facebook) clickable via hyperlinks as a means of marketing yourself.

But what if you decide to put hyperlinks in order for the reader to view a photo of your character's car.

Or a hyperlink to the Wikipedia page that your characters are discussing in their dialogue.

Or a hyperlink to see what the Seine River looks like a dusk.

Annoying? Unreasonable and Unnecessary? Likely a source of MisBehavior by your eReader?

Still... could be interesting?

#2 Darke

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 07:25 AM

I don't think I would. I'd see it as a distraction from the story. IMO, if I have to include a picture of what the Seine River looks like a dusk, then I'm not doing my job right.

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#3 jwmstudio

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 07:42 AM

I'm not sure I'd ever click on a link like the ones you're describing. I tend to ignore the extra stuff authors sometime include - maps. geneology, etc. That said, I think it could be a great addition in children's books or MG books. I'm thinking about series like The Magic Treehouse Books or 39 Clues. Kids are already so comfortable with the technology and I think reading a book on a tablet with hyperlinks to the infomation in the book would be awesome. Even the Harry Potter books with links to relevant Pottermore stuff or Percy Jackson with links to the myths they reference could be really cool. Scholastic is already doing something similar with their ebooks, but I don't know much about it.
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#4 bigblackcat97

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 10:09 AM

I think it depends. If you're reading non-fiction there could be some great sources to reach out to later on, or a how-to book. But I recently read this book : The Shallows. It was all about how the internet has changed how we read, and even in cases of people who consistently do all their reading online, how it changes the "hardwiring" of their brain. It's a really interesting book, but to sum up here - they talked about hyperlinks in the book and there was a study showing that when people used the hyperlinks their reading comprehension of the original text dropped dramatically. It even mentioned people who *didn't* click on the hyperlink but mentally noted that they wanted to go back later and do so also showing a decreased comprehension of the text.

I think hyperlinks can offer a more rich experience of *some* things, but I think if you want someone to be immersed in your story, they need to be avoided.

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#5 mwsinclair

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 10:38 AM

My thoughts are similar to BBC's on this. I believe at this stage, they'll be most helpful in a nonfiction work, but I could see how readers of fantasy, for example, might love to be able to review maps (I couldn't tell you how many times I'd go back to the maps in Tolkein to remind myself where the Fellowship was and what was coming up, even though I've read the trilogy numerous times.)

#6 Paul Dillon

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 11:52 AM

For fiction, I wouldn't use hyperlinks (or want to see them) in the book itself, but I think we will increasingly see "extras" similar to DVDs that might appeal to fans of the book.

#7 AQCrew

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 12:11 PM

Interesting discussion all...

We know that here on AQC, there's more of a push and pull between those who are e-publishing versus those who are going the traditional publishing route.

Within the literary fiction community (especially the indie, small press authors and publishers), there's been a push and tug for some time between the eBook purists, who see their eBooks as traditional books that are simply being distributed electronically versus those who believe that eBooks open up a whole new creative route for storytelling.

I don't think I would. I'd see it as a distraction from the story. IMO, if I have to include a picture of what the Seine River looks like a dusk, then I'm not doing my job right.


We get that Darke. We hear that a lot. But we do believe there's so much more you can do in terms of storytelling and cutting against what you're telling the reader as the author, what your narrator is telling the reader, and what the reader is telling themselves based on what you are actually seeing...

http://agentquerycon...505#entry128505

We just opened up a new group on AQC called Hyperlinked Vignettes in order to explore hyperlinks within text and how it affects storytelling because we think that it's worth expanding the creative conversation.

In the meantime, we do think that the bigger issue is the limitation of current eReader themselves, and how not all eReader elegantly allow you to browse to hyperlinks within the web with their current technology.

But that's going to change... HTML5 is coming and so is ePUB 3.0 and the ability to load and store digital media -- including video, audio, and photos -- and have them recalled by your eReaders and tablets is on the horizon.

#8 mwsinclair

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 12:46 PM

cool!

#9 Rick Spilman

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 01:39 PM

Somewhat over a year ago I reviewed for my blog an "ennotated" version of Joshua Slocum's "Sailing Alone Around the World." The ennotation, which showed up as underlined words and phrases, worked for two reasons. Slocum was using moderately technical language, so if you think that "brailing the spanker" is something from "Fifty Shades of Gray", a click on the link will set you straight. Even for those who are comfortable with the technical language, the book uses a lot of geographical references, including many whose names have changed since the book was published in 1900. Links to the geographic names were very helpful.

eNotated Edition of Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World – A Review

I am on the verge of publishing (one last pass by the proofreader) a book about a British windjammer in the particularly brutal winter of 1905, called "Hell Around the Horn." I have been considering whether to include enotations. I have decided against it. I do find the underlining to be a touch distracting, the work involved could be considerable, and I am not sure whether it would convert easily to other formats. So I have decided to do a conventional end of book glossary. I am still considering a hyper-linked glossary index, though I may talk myself out of that as well.

My favorite solution so far would be to install a new nautical library in each reader's Kindle which would allow a reader to hover over the word and the definition would pop up. Unfortunately, there are too many logistical issues with making that work.

If anyone has found a brilliant solution to an e-book glossary I would love to hear about it.

#10 RC Lewis

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 01:39 PM

I agree that the design/implementation of such features within the eReaders themselves is something of a problem right now. I haven't experimented much, but as far as I can tell so far, here's what would happen on, say, an iPad.

I'm reading along in the app of my choice (whether iBooks, Kindle, Nook, or something else altogether). A hyperlink shows up in the text. I tap it. The iPad switches out from the app to Safari to open a page on the internet. I absorb the presented information, but to go back to my book, I have to switch back to the other app. That means going back to the home screen, locating the app, and launching it. (There are shortcuts now with pressing the Home button twice to bring up a list of running apps, but that means I have to remember, and it's still a hassle.)

Once or twice isn't too big a deal, but I'm not going to do that several times throughout a book. If the hyperlinks could essentially launch a pop-up over the text I'm reading, and all I have to do is tap something to close it again, that'd be ideal. I know it can be done—the Hootsuite app on my iPhone does that.

Personally, I think there are potential benefits, but it's going to be a fine line to walk between enhancement and detraction, especially with the comprehension issues cited by BBC, and especially-especially within the area of kid-lit where the readers are still learning.

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#11 Rick Spilman

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 01:56 PM

The enotations of the Kindle as far less distracting than what you describe on the iPad, as they are stored in the form of notes. When you click on the hyperlink, the appropriate note opens up. Once you have read the information, you can close the note and you will be back where you started from, in the same place in the text. The only thing distracting are the various hyperlinks in the text.

#12 RC Lewis

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 02:00 PM

Rick, I was considering more than just simple notes ... more like what Crew was discussing with links to photos, Wikipedia pages, other relevant sites on the internet, etc. One could even have a secondary character reference something that happened "off-camera" and link to your website where you've posted a "deleted scene" of those events from the secondary characters perspective. All kinds of possibilities, but to really work, they need to be seamless.

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#13 mwsinclair

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 02:39 PM

I totally get where RC is going with this. That said, I suspect the such links might end up much like hyperlinks on a typical Web page: we either click the link and go elsewhere or we ignore it because it's a distracting PIA. Of course, for those of us who know how to use quick-key toggles, it might not be a major hassle to go back and forth on a browser, but those types of facets clearly haven't fully translated to all ereaders yet. Things will catch up, I have no doubt.

#14 Rick Spilman

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 02:58 PM

I totally get where RC is going with this. That said, I suspect the such links might end up much like hyperlinks on a typical Web page: we either click the link and go elsewhere or we ignore it because it's a distracting PIA. Of course, for those of us who know how to use quick-key toggles, it might not be a major hassle to go back and forth on a browser, but those types of facets clearly haven't fully translated to all ereaders yet. Things will catch up, I have no doubt.


This is where I think all the additional material works against itself. What I value in a book is the ability to transport the reader. Too much additional material is just too much. I like the special features on a DVD but I wouldn't want them to interfere with my watching of the movie. I can imagine a narrow range of books, including some textbooks and manuals, in which the ability to jump out to review additional information may be valuable, but for basic reading the additional material seems highly distracting.

#15 Jemi

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 03:28 PM

I don't think I would do much clicking on the hyper links for fiction. It would totally mess up the flow for me. I don't care enough about visuals and deleted scenes. I rarely watched the deleted scenes from my favourite movies either. I figure they were deleted for a reason :biggrin: I have an older ereader that doesn't have internet. I might (maybe) use the links to check out an author's website/blog/twitter if I enjoyed the book and they were on the last page. If I had to search for them I wouldn't though. Lazy, I know. :smile:

For nonfiction I would be much more likely to click. I think this would be really helpful for high school and college kids with their text books especially. Plus it would be fun.

(As a teacher I wouldn't want hyperlinks available to the kids in all their books either. Comprehension definitely diminishes with interruptions in reading. Having the ability to click and check out pictures and videos and maps and whatever would be cool - but a steady diet of it would hurt their reading skills.)

#16 Darke

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 04:03 PM

Interesting discussion all...

We know that here on AQC, there's more of a push and pull between those who are e-publishing versus those who are going the traditional publishing route.

Within the literary fiction community (especially the indie, small press authors and publishers), there's been a push and tug for some time between the eBook purists, who see their eBooks as traditional books that are simply being distributed electronically versus those who believe that eBooks open up a whole new creative route for storytelling.



We get that Darke. We hear that a lot. But we do believe there's so much more you can do in terms of storytelling and cutting against what you're telling the reader as the author, what your narrator is telling the reader, and what the reader is telling themselves based on what you are actually seeing...

http://agentquerycon...505#entry128505

We just opened up a new group on AQC called Hyperlinked Vignettes in order to explore hyperlinks within text and how it affects storytelling because we think that it's worth expanding the creative conversation.

In the meantime, we do think that the bigger issue is the limitation of current eReader themselves, and how not all eReader elegantly allow you to browse to hyperlinks within the web with their current technology.

But that's going to change... HTML5 is coming and so is ePUB 3.0 and the ability to load and store digital media -- including video, audio, and photos -- and have them recalled by your eReaders and tablets is on the horizon.


I have a Kobo Vox, not sure if it can handle hyper-links. Never came across any (at least that I know of).

Along the line of enhanced ebooks. No, I get it, my only concern is that not a lot of people understand how to format their book now, and if these enhanced books become popular, how are they suppose to keep up?

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#17 AQCrew

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 04:58 PM

Rick and RC --

We agree that the technology is not completely there yet. And execution is everything.

And it's not there for the software engineers either. eReaders are in MOBI or EPUB format. They're not web-based files. They have to be downloaded onto your device to be read and launched. Developers are like: "Yeah, whatever... We'll wait to develop tools when eBooks start using a real web language."

How Rick describes Kindle handling hyperlinks and notes versus RC's description of how her iPad uses a web browser is the perfect illustration of how different devices force e-readers to have different experiences. That is a big risk when pushing the enhanced eBook envelope.

And Darke, there is NO question that the learning curve for formatting and file conversion per device is a hindrance. A major, ridiculous hindrance.

In fact, it's seriously the main thing that's causing insomnia these days because it's limiting the creative possibilities of all us creatives.

And Jemi -- there's a reason why vanilla is still the most favorite ice cream flavor. But you never know... green apple rum or mocha horchata might surprise you.

And yeah, we got fed a lot of ice cream before bedtime. That's probably why our reading comprehension skills are about as good as Krusty the Clown's.

#18 Jemi

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 05:14 PM

Rolo - always go for the Rolo ice cream when given a choice! :biggrin:

It's going to fun to see how quickly the technologies adapt and improve!

#19 Darke

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 06:41 PM

Rick and RC --

We agree that the technology is not completely there yet. And execution is everything.

And it's not there for the software engineers either. eReaders are in MOBI or EPUB format. They're not web-based files. They have to be downloaded onto your device to be read and launched. Developers are like: "Yeah, whatever... We'll wait to develop tools when eBooks start using a real web language."

How Rick describes Kindle handling hyperlinks and notes versus RC's description of how her iPad uses a web browser is the perfect illustration of how different devices force e-readers to have different experiences. That is a big risk when pushing the enhanced eBook envelope.

And Darke, there is NO question that the learning curve for formatting and file conversion per device is a hindrance. A major, ridiculous hindrance.

In fact, it's seriously the main thing that's causing insomnia these days because it's limiting the creative possibilities of all us creatives.

And Jemi -- there's a reason why vanilla is still the most favorite ice cream flavor. But you never know... green apple rum or mocha horchata might surprise you.

And yeah, we got fed a lot of ice cream before bedtime. That's probably why our reading comprehension skills are about as good as Krusty the Clown's.


Great. Now I want ice cream. :humph:
As each ereader device has a different experience, would that mean that there would have to be only one digital format? That could cause a whole new war of the devices.

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#20 Rick Spilman

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 06:59 PM

The difference in features and usage between specialized e-ink readers and tablet continues to be interesting. As least as applied to the New York subways, a unscientific survey if ever there was one, e-inks readers predominate. The problem with web interactivity with tablets is that you need either wifi or 3 or 4G to make it happen. They may be ubiquitous soon but we aren't quite there yet.




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