The Trend of Linking to Articles in eBooks
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A New Form of Click-bait
I'm seeing a trend in eBooks that I really don't like. A few weeks ago, I came across an eBook that looked interesting and downloaded it. It looked professional and was easy to read. The eBook was informative for about 3 paragraphs. Then, the author included a link. Curious, I clicked the link and was taken away from the eBook to a website with an extremely lengthy article on the topic I was just reading about.
Instead of actually writing out the information in the book, this “author” just stuck a link in their eBook. What the hell??? Was it too much of hassle for him to summarize, reword, or just write out the information himself?? I was insulted – both as a reader and as a writer – that this “author” chose to link to an article written by someone else.
The article was long-winded and pulled me out of the easy flow established in the eBook. Backtracking to the book, I continue to read only to discover yet another link a few paragraphs later!! Oh, come on!!!!
If I Wanted to Read Online Articles ...
The eBook interjected links to websites all the way through and then dumped a list of more websites in the last “chapter”. Some of the links actually sent me to trashy celeb-talk sites! This “author” who was supposed to be giving me information on a particular topic, actually thought a link to a gossip site with a ridiculous article would somehow be a credible option. The cover of the eBook promises results that will radically change the reader’s life. Well, it radically changed my perspective of the author: Lazy!!
This is not the only time I have come across a link-filled article – er – I mean eBook. While they usually have some interesting information, there is often not enough original content to qualify it as a book. I don't mind a short eBook, however I resent having a pamphlet filled with hyperlinks sold in the guise of a legitimate book. If a writer posts this type of document as an online article at a writing site, such as Hubpages, or even as an online .pdf pamphlet made available free-of-charge, the inclusion of links would have been acceptable. However, these “books” are being sold for money.
An author's job is to do the research, garner the relevant information, and relate it to the reader in a cohesive manner. The author’s job is not to send reader to various publications to learn on their own. Imagine coming across this in a printed book:
Of course, with the magic of the Internet, it’s a simple matter of providing a link to the proper article, but that doesn’t make it appropriate.
If You’re an Author ...
If you’re an author, please don't load your book with links! It diminishes your authority. Your readers want to feel secure in the thought that you took the time to learn about the subject you are writing on and are, to some degree at least, an expert. To do anything less is an affront to your readers, your peers, and yourself. If you write a book on a subject and simply link to other people's work, you should pay royalties to the authors of these articles. After all, you are using their work to earn your income.
If You’re a Reader ...
If you’re a reader, please don’t let authors get away with this! When you come across an eBook like this, no matter how much the information helps you, I urge you to write a review that lets the author know that it is not OK to simply direct you to websites you could have looked up yourself.
© 2014 Rosa Marchisella