Home » Ebooks » Best Practices for Ebook Front Matter: Copyright Page, Part 2

Best Practices for Ebook Front Matter: Copyright Page, Part 2

29 October 2015

From Digital Book World:

The front matter of a book communicates a lot of helpful and important information to readers. But publishers and authors often find themselves wondering how to handle that information in their ebook files. In the current installments of my column here on Digital Book World, I am delving into some best practices, ideas and options for these opening and ending parts of your ebook. In my last installment, we started talking about the copyright page. We will continue that discussion below.

. . . .

Some books, especially older ones, have a colophon page that includes basic information about the publisher, including a logo, location and other details. This page is often combined with the copyright page in current publishing approaches, so you probably have that information on your copyright page.

The colophon also sometimes includes information about the paper and fonts used in creating the print book. If you have that information in your ebook, be sure it matches the actual details of the ebook itself. For example, saying “Printed on acid-free paper” is not really appropriate. You can change that to “The print edition of this book is printed on acid-free paper” or something similar, or you can just remove it.

Fonts are a common concern in ebooks, and many publishers do not use the same fonts in their ebook files as they do in their print books due to licensing difficulties and support across devices. If your copyright page includes information about the fonts used in the print book, be sure that still applies to the ebook you are creating.

. . . .

The CIP section of the copyright page contains information generated by the Library of Congress about your book. According to the Library of Congress’s website, “The CIP Program limits eligibility to titles that are most likely to be widely acquired by the nation’s libraries.

. . . .

It is also important to note that the CIP program is not available to “books paid for or subsidized by individual authors.” So if you are a self-published author who would like to register with the Library of Congress and get a CIP section, you will probably need to set up a publishing company first.

. . . .

Version numbers are common in software publishing, but less so in ebooks right now. That is changing, however, and you can benefit greatly from using them. A version number is not that hard to decipher. Take, for example, this one:

Version 1.2.3

If you were going to create a version number for your ebook, you would start out at “1.0.0” (or just “1”). If you need to come back and make a small change to the file, such as to fix a typo, you would increment the last number in the chain, making the new version number “1.0.1”. If you later found out that you needed to change a lot of things in the ebook at once you might update the version number to “1.1.0” to show that a lot of changes were made. If you decided to do a major re-write or make other major changes to the book, then you might change the version number to “2.0.0”.

Cling to the rest at Digital Book World


28 Comments to “Best Practices for Ebook Front Matter: Copyright Page, Part 2”

  1. The more front matter put in an ebook, the less writing is available on the ‘look inside’ sample. I am not going to be tempted to order a book by pages of publisher info, copyright info and lines of chapter numbers. I have tried to see samples, got all that other junk, then maybe one paragraph before the End of Sample announcement. Gave up.

    • I’ve encountered that as well, but don’t publishers have some control over which pages are available in the Look Inside feature? I know how-to books will often show the front matter, Table of Contents, and then one or two sample project pages, and then maybe the index and/or back of book.

      • There’s no way to control the “look inside” feature. But you can put as much front matter as possible at the back of the book. Copyright, About the author, Table of Contents, and often Foreword as well.

        I usually go with Title page – mini table of contents – Other books by the same author – introduction – main text. If the introduction is so long it will eat up the preview, then I move that to the back as well.

        The mini table of contents is only four or five lines and is a good place to put a link to the full Table of contents.

      • How-To books often front load a bunch of extras just to thwart people trying to get a “free lesson” in the Look Inside sample.

        For a fiction ebook, there’s no real reason to have all that at the beginning. Many of the larger publishers haven’t figured that out yet because “they’re doing it the way it’s always been done.”

        • “How-To books often front load a bunch of extras just to thwart people trying to get a “free lesson” in the Look Inside sample.”

          Yeah, heaven forbid a possible buyer finding out it’s a rehash of every other How-To book before they lay their money down … 😉

      • Not sure AMZ gives same deal to individuals as to small and large pub companies. As I understand it, we can do whatever % we want. I think the rec might have been 10% on the last one, 30 some pages on that one.

        Am I missing some more current info?

    • While I don’t have any hard data, my impression is that many publishers/formatters are beginning to put the “front matter” in the back of ebooks, for exactly this reason. This may vary between nonfiction and fiction books — I usually want to see the table of contents for a technical book before buying it, but for a novel I’d rather see a longer sample of the book itself.

    • I’ve started using special styles in the print version of my books for the front matter that isn’t terribly useful in ebooks, so my print->ebook conversion script can automatically remove them.

      Of course, if Amazon knew what they were doing, they could just open the ‘Look Inside’ at the actual start point defined in the ebook, and it wouldn’t matter.

      But when they can’t even get the start point right in the ebook…

      • Of course, if Amazon knew what they were doing…

        Yeah, Amazon – how pathetic are they? Can’t get anything right. Duh. It’s a wonder they’re still trading.

        • Amazon’s ebook conversion process is a disaster, which is why we have to keep jumping through hoops to create books that look OK once Amazon have munged them.

          Everywhere else, I just upload a .epub, and… it just works. Amazon, they take the book and do who knows what to it, and I have to sacrifice chickens to make it come out on my devices looking anything like it should.

          And then they reformat it again a few months later… and screw it up again.

          • I format my books in HTML, so have total control – but I’ve tested using my original Word doc and it comes out fine, bar some headings not being centred.

            The secret is to keep your Word doc very clean. J W Manus has good advice on this: https://jwmanus.wordpress.com/2015/09/17/ms-word-a-primer-for-indie-writers-part-i-styles/

            • Some would say that the secret is to not let Microsoft Word get within 50 miles of the manuscript to begin with. 🙂

            • I have experienced what Edward mentions. I use clean HTML and have a clearly defined starting point in my ebooks (first chapter), yet some of them open at the wrong point. I’ve contacted Amazon about it, and they agree that I’ve correctly defined the starting point, but the issue persists. In those cases, I’ve removed my starting point definition and let their program define it.

              I’m no newbie when it comes to HTML, and my ebook formatting is spot-on. I’ve also read everything J W Manus has posted on the subject. I will note, though, that this is the only problem I’ve had with Amazon’s conversion system.

              Sometimes, Amazon’s conversion just screws up. Sometimes, it works just fine. Go figure.

          • I always upload my epub at KDP

          • I have all of one book published so far, but I created the mobi in Scrivener, uploaded it, and it seems to work just fine.

          • I had zero trouble uploading with Amazon two days ago – and both the book and the Look Inside feature are exactly what I wanted: why? Because I uploaded an epub (without cover in it) which I made automatically from Scrivener plus a small tweak – and an epub is already perfect (https://liebjabberings.wordpress.com/2015/07/10/scrivener-one-click-ebook-for-busy-writers/)

            I tested the epub on device after device. I used KindlePreviewer to turn the epub into a mobi, and tested it on every Kindle or Kindle app I had access to – no problems anywhere.

            The epub is the basis of everything – so if you supply a clean epub, automatic conversion methods don’t get a chance to mess with anything.

            • The epub is the basis of everything –

              And HTML is the basis of epub. Instead of using Scrivener to create an epub and then using Kindle Previewer, I skip a step to keep it simple and just use Kindle Previewer. My first several books had no issues and looked perfect. The starting point problem only occurred in two books, and the encoding for the starting points in those was no different than for the ones that worked perfectly. I have no reason to believe that the glitch was on my part, and I also have no reason to believe that an epub conversion would have produced different results. I’m glad you’ve had no problems, and I hope that continues, but my point above was that Kindle Previewer does screw up occasionally. I, for one, am not going to get fully comfortable with Kindle Previewer just because I know I’m doing everything right on my end. I will always thoroughly check to make sure Kindle Previewer has done what it is supposed to do. I hope I do not encounter any problems in the future, and I hope that holds for everyone else, as well.

              ETA: Amazon admitted that the fault was with Kindle Previewer, and they said that they’re still working to fully debug the program. Again, the starting point issue is the only one I’ve had.

          • My epubs look the same after Amazon converts them.

      • I agree Edward G, amz is wonky compared to some other upload mechs. And it has been that way for a long long time.

        Work arounds: Try translating into epub first. See if that might work better for you. And do not, as others here with exp have mentioned, let MS Word, that seductres, near wicky wacky amz for kindle

        Good luck

        • If you make it work for you, that’s great. I prefer hiring a company to do it. Since I do everything else myself, I can afford to spend $125 or so to get the ebook done.


    (SERIES TITLE if there is one)



    Front matter complete

    • Nearly agreed, Jane – I also have:

      Lexi Revellian
      All rights reserved

      This is a work of fiction’

      Job done. There is no need to thank a list of people the reader does not know or care about, nor to mention one’s cat, however cute it is. No need to tell the reader how one came to write the book, or to threaten him in case he has pirated his copy – which he almost certainly has not. Let your writing speak for itself.

  3. I agree with front matter being problematic with sample downloads. I, too, have had samples that consist entirely of front matter and no content. I passed, since I never had a chance to sample the writing. The information is just as valuable at the back of the book.

  4. The above advice may have been relevant last century. This one? Not so much.

    The only reason I check the front matter of a book I’m reading is for the date it was published and/or what other books the author might have written. Fini.

    As a writer the only stuff I have is the usual disclaimer about persons living and dead, these words are mine so don’t snitch ’em, publication date, and what other stuff I’ve written.

    Anything more is just genitalis inflatus.

  5. I like to have the front matter for ebooks as clean as possible, and as short as possible. Print editions I would do differently, because print.

    I have copyright info (I keep it short), TOC (only a few entries for the short stories) and a small excerpt for those with steamy parts. Author bio, other books, all in the back. It works for me, for now.

  6. I list reviews. (And I also have a TOC and a list of characters. These belong in the front. Everything else is in the back.

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