Books with Table of Contents in the back of eBooks targeted by Amazon

New FlashAmazon is an extremely innovative company – and usually quite responsive to self-publisher’s concerns – but sometimes it gets things very wrong too.

Today is one of those times.

I’ve received several reports from writers threatened with having books removed from sale, and heard even more worrying stories from others who had their titles actually removed from the Kindle Store without notice.

What were these authors guilty of? What crime did they commit for Amazon to adopt such heavy handed treatment? Something completely innocuous: the Table of Contents was at the rear of their books instead of at the front.

Yep, that’s it.

We’ll get to what might be the root cause of this crackdown in a moment, but Amazon is claiming that having a TOC in the end-matter instead of the front-matter is a breach of the (ever-changing, 100+ pages) Kindle Publishing Guidelines (PDF).

To continue reading, check out David Gaughran’s post Amazon Takes Aim at Scammers but Hits Authors.

On a Personal Note

My Table of Contents are in the front of my eBooks, but I have moved some items to the rear to allow readers to get into the story quicker. They include ISBN, copyright information, cover design, editor’s name and the statement about being fiction (with fictional characters).

Moving this information increased the amount of story sample readers receive because it isn’t counted in the percentage.

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19 thoughts on “Books with Table of Contents in the back of eBooks targeted by Amazon

  1. I would think that formatting an Ebook would be the same as a physical book, which means some things must and always be at the front of the book: table of contents, copyright, publishing info., date of publication, and whatever else is found at the front of a book bought at a book store. I thought the concept of the Ebook was for the conveniences of the reader first. The best benefits to the author are the cost and time taken to publish are dropped dramatically.

    • Ebooks have been treated differently. There are a few reasons for that, but in many cases (Kindle is one of them) readers can click a button to be taken to the table of contents regardless of where it is located in the book. It could be in the middle of the book, and the bookmark would take readers there. It’s the same with the beginning of the book. I bookmark the beginning when I format, so readers go directly there if they want to.

      When I formatted my first books, I followed the same format as a printed book. But then sample percentages came into play. Wanting to give readers a larger sample encouraged me to put a lot of things at the end of the book.

      I’ve seen a few samples filled with dedications, copyright information and table of contents, so I didn’t actually see any of the book content. In other words, the sample was useless.

      Ebooks also have the advantage of being searched for key words. I don’t have an eReader, but I’ve been told by others that they’ve searched for information in nonfiction books, and they’ve searched for repetitive words and phrases in their fiction books as well as others they’ve read.

      Ebooks are always evolving. I read articles about what they want to do with them, and I think, ‘No. That’s okay. Let’s leave the book be a book. We don’t need video or another other fancy things.’

      Thanks for visiting, and for leaving a comment.

    • Yes, placing it at the back of the book allows readers to read a larger sample.

      The problem comes when scammers put a link in the front of their books, so readers click to the back of the book (where the TOC) is located. Kindle’s new pay-by-pages-read sees this as someone who read the entire book, so the scammer receives payment for all their pages even if not all pages were viewed.

      Before I read David’s post, I thought each page had to be actually views to count as ‘read’. There’s no way the computer can tell if the page was actually read, but I thought it could tell if the page was viewed, even for a fraction of a second. But this not the case. As long as the first page is opened and the last page is opened, it appears as though all the pages were opened. Crazy.

      Kindle needs a better program to identify which pages of a book were ‘read’.

  2. Personally, I never use the table of contents when reading an ebook, but Amazon wants it so it’s there. (My print books don’t have a table to contents.) I really like your idea of moving some of the front matter to the back. I’m mean, who really reads the copyright verbiage anyway? 🙂

    • I use the table of contents to find where I left off last. Although I have the virtual bookmark in place, sometimes I can’t find it when I have that time to read again. That’s when the table of contents is extremely helpful.

    • Personally, the only time I use a table of contents is in a nonfiction book, and sometimes not even then. So if you don’t use it and I don’t use it, this begs the question, why do we need it? Okay, in nonfiction, I see the use, but only in paper books. If I wanted to find something in an eBook, I would search the document with keywords like I do Google or a webpage.

      Perhaps one day (one day soon), TOC will be obsolete.

      Like you, Diana, I create a TOC because Kindle and Smashwords wants one. I used to list chapters novels, but my next book won’t have this. I see no sense in doing it. When I started self-publishing, this was recommended. Like other things, we get to pick and choose what we really want to do.

      I don’t read the copyright stuff either. Truth be told, I open a book to Chapter 1 and start reading. I don’t even read dedications, prologues or introductions. Sometimes after I’ve read the book I will, but…most of the time I can’t be bothered. This is why I never put a prologue in my books; there is probably one other person like me who won’t bother reading it either.

      Thanks for visiting.

      • You don’t read prologs!!! Oh no. I’ve heard that some people don’t (and I know I’m off topic – lol). I have a few prologs. I wouldn’t put it in there if it wasn’t important info (I hope). 😀

        • I know; it’s a crazy thought, but I stopped reading them decades ago. My opinion is–and this can be very wrong, particular with newer books–that they are boring. And they keep me from reading the story. I have it set in my mind now, so I automatically flip to chapter 1. If I really enjoyed the book, I sometimes go back and read the prologue.

          Does that mean old prologues were information dumps and unnecessary? I don’t know. Are they different now? Again, I don’t know because I’ve stopped reading them.

          Perhaps I’ll run a poll to learn more about this. If the majority of readers skip them, maybe the prologue should become chapter 1. The first chapter in “Shadows in the Stone” could have been a prologue, but I decided against it because I don’t read them. 🙂

          • Interesting, Diane. I’ve moved potential prologs into chapters if I can. The book I’m reworking now is all in one pov except the prolog. Plus the prolog is not in chronological order. Plus…the whole origin of the magic system is set up there and the reader would be totally confused without it. Fantasy does seem to use the device more than other genres. I’m stickin’ to my guns on this one 🙂 I love these discussions. Thanks!

    • Jack, apparently when it comes to eBooks, the table of contents can go either way. I hadn’t realised some books had it at the back. I always put it in front.

      Now I don’t have to worry, but many out there do, including those who formatted using Calibre. I use that program for ePub, but it’s only a translation and my table of contents (when there is one–I write only fiction) is in the front.

      Honestly, I was surprised to learn some put the TOC in the back.

      Thanks for visiting. Enjoy your Friday.

    • You’re welcome, John. From David’s article, it appears thousands of books may need to fix the TOC. I’m just happy I’m not one of them. I already have too much to do.

      Thanks for visiting, John.

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