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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I need readers input on a question about fiction eBooks. In formatting an eBook novel, I wondered about the inclusion of Contents lists where the reader can search that list, click on the chapter of their choice, and go right to the chapter they want.This is handy, but I wonder how many readers use it and whether they find it distracting. First, do readers generally finds these Content lists helpful? Secondly, would they prefer to have these lists placed in front or in back of the eBook.

As a reader, I prefer getting right into the story without a lot of distractions. When I start reading a novel, I find it somewhat distracting to click through several pages of Content lists (Preface, Chapter list, acknowledgement, ads, etc.) before I even get to the start of the story.

What do you think?
 

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I put a content listing in 10 Bits of My Brain, but it's a short story collection, so I figured a reader may want to skip around.  I don't get the content lists that are just Chapter 1, Chapter 2, etc -- especially for a fiction novel where you want to read the story in the order it's presented.  As I prepare my first novel for an ebook, I've been questioning the sense of including this list.  I don't think it's required by Kindle or other ereaders, so why include it?
 

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The nice thing about a ToC is that it means that there are dots on your progress bar that give you an idea of how long each chapter is.  So while I almost never would use a ToC in a fiction book to jump around, it is a good indication of how much longer to read to a 'stopping place'.  And it is helpful if the kindle has a hiccup and you lose your place.

They're usually placed at the beginning, which is fine, but keep in mind that a sample is something like the first 10%.  You want to be careful that you don't include too much stuff that isn't the story. . . . .if I get to the end of the sample and am still in the ToC or other front matter, I'm probably not buying the book. 

A ToC or index is fairly necessary in a book that's non fiction as it's not meant to be read, necessarily, from front to back.
 

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Tables of contents are sort of randomly useful for novels. I say that as a long time heavy reader. Readers won't always use the TOC, but if they want to and can't, it can be annoying.



If you're only going to have one TOC in a book, it should definitely be in the front, as that's where everyone expects it. However, having a second at the end of the book can be nice too. I noticed this feature in someone else's ebook I was reading some months back, and immediately began doing it with my own too after that (with those I published afterwards, I mean).
 

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I use the clickable table of contents to find out where exactly the book ends. A lot of novels have excerpts and/or author notes in the back so the story doesn't finish at 100%, it finishes at more like 90-97%. And a lot of non-fiction has an index or bibliography in the back - the latest one I read actually ended at 67%! If I turn off wifi, it won't upload my further read page so I can jump forward and see where the book actually ends and the clickable TOC makes that much easier to do.
 

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I like fiction ebooks to have a Table of Contents.  It's useful if you loose your place in the book... for example, recently I was reading on a plane, and got up to stretch my legs... I closed the cover on my Kindle, but forgot to put it in sleep mode.  In the process of closing the cover and putting it in my bag, a bunch of buttons got pressed - when I returned, the Kindle was on a totally different book!  Luckily the book I was reading had a TOC and I remembered what chapter I was on so it was easy for me to find my place again.  And like history_lover, I also often use the TOC to see where a book ends (since books often have extra stuff at the end)... sometimes I want to know exactly how close I am to the end of the book.  And I really like the dots on the progress bar that Ann mentioned.  I prefer to read books that have the dots on the progress bar - I like to know where I am within a chapter/section of a book.
 

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I like a table of contents but rarely use them. I don't generally do a lot of flipping through chapters - except when I'm reading my Kindle users guide.  :p
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Dara: Does it matter to you whether the ToC is placed in the front or back?
 

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I put my TOC in the front, made it clickable, and included links to all the after-story items to make it clear where the story ends.  Once converted to MOBI, it put a TOC in the back as well.  The one in the front is much handsomer. ;)

The TOC is important for a couple of reasons, the main one being to give the reader an idea of how long the book is.  Adding links to the non-story items in the TOC is helpful as well, because it lets the readers know what to expect after "Fin", and if they choose to skip it they can.

That being said... I encourage everyone to click all the way through to 100% and rate the book at the end.  Gives you a shot to rate it without doing a full review, and tweet about it.  I've been trying to do that more often, myself.
 

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gatehouseauthor said:
That being said... I encourage everyone to click all the way through to 100% and rate the book at the end. Gives you a shot to rate it without doing a full review, and tweet about it. I've been trying to do that more often, myself.
Note that the 'rating' is not reflected on the Amazon book page or averaged into the book's rating via regular reviews. It's only reflected in the 'your collection' listing you can access via Your Account. But that is helpful for me so that I know whether I read the thing or not. ::)
 

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Ann in Arlington said:
Note that the 'rating' is not reflected on the Amazon book page or averaged into the book's rating via regular reviews. It's only reflected in the 'your collection' listing you can access via Your Account. But that is helpful for me so that I know whether I read the thing or not. ::)
True, true... I mainly like it because of the tweet feature... tells your followers you just finished it and how you liked it... from an author's standpoint, that's free advertising, assuming you liked it! ;)
 
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