Home > Contemplations > Physical Books & Links In Them. There Has To Be A Better Way!

Physical Books & Links In Them. There Has To Be A Better Way!


stacked-books-for-research-in-a-library

These days whenever I read a book that is on serious subject matter – as opposed to a novel – I notice there are a whole ton of links mentioned or footnoted over the course of the read. It’s great for learning more after you’re done reading, or even between chapters, but the problem for those of us who still like reading physical books is that those links aren’t clickable. For me, a person who loves to read physical books, it is often not an attractive prospect to be required to pull out a phone or tablet or go to a computer while reading a book. The other options, as far as I know, are to:

  1. Write down the link or links on a piece of paper and remember to look them up after you’re done reading that chapter.
  2. Bookmark the book on every page that has a link and remember to look it up later.
  3. Take a picture with your phone/tablet/camera of the footnote. Then, when you sync the pictures with your computer just read the links off the photographed pages.
  4. (If you can think of another option please let me know below and I’ll add it here.)

This problem also rears its head when reading a magazine these days. Especially, in my experience, I have found this to be an issue when reading tech publications. Of course, many magazines have links mentioned in them during stories/articles in reference to people and places mentioned or just to read more or see/hear additional audio-video on the subject being discussed.

URL Link in a book's footnote

My Solution

I have an idea which solves this problem in what is a pretty simple and cost effective way. Everyone and everything these days has a website and of course books are on that list. Authors and/or publishers can solve this issue easily by having a page on their sites with the list of links mentioned in the book. Make the existence of this links page clear in the beginning of the book and the end of it, maybe even throw in a reminder or two over the course of the book in the footnotes. The page would take a minimal amount of resources to create, run and host because it would be pretty much all text. As well, it could be organized by chapter so it can be easy for anyone to access repeatedly and find the links quickly while they read the book.

In terms of a magazine, the links can be organized based on the date of the magazine on the magazine’s website. If need be, there can be a code written into the magazine on one of the pages for people who have bought it to access the links and extended info. However, I don’t think it is really all that necessary because we aren’t talking about things that are in the magazine being printed, just links. You’d still have to buy the magazine to read the full article and understand the link in context.

What do you think? Is that not reasonable? I am surprised no authors or book, magazine, and even newspaper publishers have started doing this yet. Seems pretty simple and would give more value to the customers still buying their materials in physical print.

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Top picture of stacked books via Microsoft Office Clipart.

Book with a link in it pictured above is “UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging.” by Scott Stratten.

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  1. Danah
    April 2, 2012 at 1:25 pm | #1

    They don’t do this already? I know that some of my text books did, I haven’t really been doing much fact checking lately however so I haven’t gone to the book’s site to check for links.

    If they are not it would be a great idea.

    • April 3, 2012 at 5:26 pm | #2

      My friend Sacha on Facebook mentioned that he has seen this done – though not exactly as I described it – so in a way it is being done. In any case, I thought I’d throw my $0.02 in and if it is already being done so much the better!

      Thanks so much for commenting, Danah!

  2. May 18, 2012 at 10:44 pm | #3

    Now…I know not everybody has a smartphone, but the trend is definitely heading that way. If you have one that has the google goggles app, you can just use that to snap a pic of the link, and let google find the page for you. Bookmark it on your phone or email it to yourself that way for later reading.

    Thoughts?

  3. May 19, 2012 at 12:19 am | #4

    I agree this is VERY doable, Vishal. HOWEVER, the whole point of my solution is to avoid having to pull out my phone, computer, tablet, or piece of paper while I’m reading my book.

    Also, I believe I essentially mentioned that option in point #3 “Take a picture with your phone/tablet/camera of the footnote. Then, when you sync the pictures with your computer just read the links off the photographed pages.” Granted your way is slightly different because it involves using Google Goggles but it’s largely, in my opinion, just a further refinement of the essential option mentioned in #3.

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