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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Ebooks and Indexes

My question of the day, does an ebook need an index?

Mrs. T.W. Gregory (LOC)
Some people argue that an ebook has a search feature so an index is unnecessary. However, a good index is more than a list of words. A good index includes alternative terms for the same thing, groups discussions under a single term, and references related terms.

From a user experience though scrolling through pages of terms seems cumbersome when offered a simple search function. An index created in Adobe InDesign for your print book does not convert into a hyperlinked file.You can insert anchors and create cross references and there are other other methods that create an index separately and then import it and so forth, but all of these methods seem overly cumbersome.

When you create online help you can embed key words that are used with the search function. It is a great way to embed alternate terms to improve the user experience. It seems logical to me that the same functionality could be embedded into ebooks, but alas, so far this functionality does not exist. 

Again from the user perspective, as a researcher I quite often flip to the index and look for items of interest before I buy a print book or take it out of the library. With an ebook I will not have that opportunity to assess the book before I commit to its purchase.

If you have created an ebook did you create an index?

As a reader of ebooks do you want an index for your non-fiction books?

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