picture book design


Prevent Broken Web Links in Ebooks

broken web links

Web Links Break

Everyone knows the web is ephemeral. A site’s content can change from hour to hour, or it may wink out of existence like the transient electrical pulses that it is. Any link to a nonexistent webpage would be broken if the site’s owners aren’t diligent about redirects.

Readers Don’t Expect Books to Change That Way

Our expectation of books is entirely different. In our experience, a book’s content is frozen in time. When we look at an old textbook, we expect to see some information that is outdated, not information that updated itself or simply disappeared.

So how do we make sure that a web link in a book doesn’t break? Or change significantly, perhaps in a way that no longer fits with the book?

Add Them to the Internet Archive

  1. Save a page to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine by entering the URL  https://www.neustudio.com/picture-book-design.html into the “Save Page Now” field on the home page
  2. After the page has saved, you’ll get a partial link to the archived page
    like this /web/20211209211816/https://www.neustudio.com/picture-book-design.html
  3. You’ll need to add the http header and Internet Archive domain (https://web.archive.org) at the beginning to make a usable link.
    It will look like this https://web.archive.org/web/20211209211816/https://www.neustudio.com/picture-book-design.html

Donate to the Archive

The Internet Archive is a free service, donations help it stay on line.

Why Choose A Not-for-Profit Service?

I am skeptical that for-profit websites have greater longevity. Think MySpace vs. Wikipedia.

Or, Take it In-House

You could build a webpage on a publisher or author’s site that has all the author’s links. Then link to that page in your ebook. The advantage is that the reference information could be updated, you could promote the next book. This will solve the broken link issue, but content out of the publisher’s control could change. Adding a “date accessed” citation would explain this to a visitor, but the webpage as accessed would be gone. The publisher would be responsible for keeping track of broken links and fixing them.

Ebook Reading Systems and Links

Readers may not be able access links directly through all reading systems. Check with the ebook vendor, some have restrictions on the type of links that can be included.

Do you have another way of dealing with broken links? Let me know on Twitter @neustudio