News of Shafer eBook Publication Plans

Dan Shafer revdan at
Sat Feb 26 18:32:33 EST 2005


Strong opinion. I disagree. I know you come from an education 
perspective and perhaps that's shaping some of what you are feeling but 
my experience says:

1. Creating indexes is subjective at best. A great index can help make 
the contents of a printed work more accessible; a poorly done one 
(which 90% are) gets in the way because it sets up a false expectation 
about what is and isn't covered in the book.

2. The ability to full-text-search an eBook almost always more than 
makes up for the lack of an index. An index necessarily confines itself 
to the concepts and words the person preparing the index thought were 
important. The ability to search the text for any word or phrase makes 
it much more likely that I'll be able to find what *I* am looking for 
rather than only what the indexer thought to index.

3. Either by design or because of flaws in the way PDFs are generated 
or displayed, indexes of eBooks generally end up pointing a page number 
that doesn't match the actual number on the page. Front matter doesn't 
get separated out. Page x is page 10 and if that's the last Roman 
numeral page, then page 1 is actually page 11. Again, please note 
before you respond to this comment that I'm saying that's my experience 
with the PDFs I've worked with. It may well be that someone who really 
knows how to manage the PDF-creation process knows how to get around 
this, but my experience is that most authors don't.

When all is said and done, I'd rather have more material sooner that I 
can free-text search than less material later that has an index that is 
almost destined to be only somewhat useful anyway.

In any case, I'd suggest that a blanket, universal mandate that PDFs 
"must have an index" seems to me to be too broad at a minimum.


On Feb 25, 2005, at 8:01 PM, Judy Perry wrote:

> Not an excuse.
> Printed books simply MUST have an index.  I really believe that PDFs
> should too.
> Judy
> On Fri, 25 Feb 2005, graham samuel wrote:
>> Well, indices can be written - we might get volunteers to do it. In
>> fact I might be such a volunteer for one or more of the books. Forces
>> you to read the text, I find.
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> use-revolution mailing list
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