Easy-to-use hyperlinks in printed media?
April 24, 2014 6:26 AM   Subscribe

I'm involved in writing a book that will published in both electronic and print versions. The book will be semi-academic, and will provide many (hyper)links to electronic sources. While this is easy to do in the electronic version, what is an easy way for the reader to retrieve a link to something in the hard copy? Possible solutions would be to print QR codes in the print version for every link, using Layar, or simply list a short number/code which would then correspond to the link when looked up on a separate website. Do you have any other suggestions? Again, the goal is to make it as easy as possible for the reader of a print copy to dig deeper into the other sources. I'm just looking for ideas now, assume that there is no limitation on cost or manpower. Thanks in advance!
posted by JiffyQ to Writing & Language (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Assume that any links in the printed book will be out of date by the time the book lands on shelves.

Give your readers one URL instead, where you'll list (and maintain) linked references, grouped by book chapter. (Not page numbers, unless you're certain there will only ever be one print edition!)
posted by ook at 6:44 AM on April 24, 2014 [7 favorites]

Include the full URL as a footnote to the text. At some point you'll get sick of paying for the associated web hosting, and the book should maintain its archival qualities.

However, I'd also do something like ook's suggestion, a relatively short domain name, but make it so that people can type in /[foot/endnote number] or /[chapter]/[footnote#] after that domain name to redirect to the final page if it's still around, or maybe redirect to an archive.org version should the original go 404.
posted by straw at 6:58 AM on April 24, 2014

From the reader's point of view, the easiest thing would be to have one web page with a memorable URL and a list of links to your sources, mirroring your printed bibliography.

Because your target websites will go out of date, you might try including links to the Wayback Machine versions that were current as of time of writing. You can prompt the Wayback Machine to take a snapshot of a page (see "save page now" on above link), and that should be a pretty future-proof approach.
posted by adamrice at 7:28 AM on April 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

is this self-published or publisher-published?

what we do is include a link to a special page created for the book (not the buying page or anything, just a random page on the publisher's site created for this purpose). it's usually like publisher.com/authorlastname or something.

that will have the links, any videos/multi-media, etc.

i don't like the idea of QR codes for this purpose because not everyone has a device capable of reading those. or i may be sitting at my desktop and just want to type in a damn url.

if you're self-published, you should have an author website for marketing purposes anyway, and you can have a special page, as described above, as part of your website.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 10:31 AM on April 24, 2014

Perhaps creating a permapage, a wiki which could be updated with new editions would be most helpful. Of course, non-book-buyers will find the page but would/could need to buy the book in order to understand the wider subject in depth.
posted by parmanparman at 11:03 AM on April 24, 2014

Consider archiving at least your most important citations with a service like WebCite or Archive.org's Wayback Machine, and including those back-up links in the citation. Wayback is more reliable, IMHO, but WebCite more intended for academic use, including a handy bookmarklet and reference builder.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:15 PM on April 24, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks guys!
posted by JiffyQ at 7:33 AM on April 25, 2014

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