New digital-first production workflows at Cengage combined with new user experiences with Cengage products mean that some things need to be reconsidered. This includes the traditional back-of-the-book index. Should it be retained or adapted? To help answer questions like this one, Cengage hosted “Indexes for eBooks and Embedded Indexing,” an event co-sponsored by professional organizations, Bookbuilders of Boston and the American Society for Indexing. On April 5, approximately 22 publishing professionals gathered at the Cengage Boston office to hear three speakers and engage in lively discussion on the topic—resulting in a successful, informative event.

Marty Rabinowitz at podiumWhat’s the Return on Indexing (ROI)?

Marty Rabinowitz, Executive Director of Content Services at Cengage, led the program by explaining how Cengage currently handles indexing for print products, and how ebooks and courseware fit into the process. Marty raised some interesting questions: Do customers find value in indexes? Is it worth the investment? Should we make the same investment for digital indexes as we do for print?

A Look at Process and Potential Challenges

Teresa Elsey, Senior Managing Editor of the group that produces Trade ebooks at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, discussed the process and issues around converting indexes created for print books into hyperlinked indexes for subsequent ebook editions.

Things to Consider for the Futureseated presenters in discussion

The evening’s featured speaker, Stephen Ingle, President and CEO of WordCo Indexing Services, addressed these and other issues in his presentation, “Indexes for Digital Publications: ‘The Battle of the Books’.” The issues to be “battled” and resolved include: whether to have an index in a digital book/ebook, whether a hyperlinked index should be page-hyperlinked (usually based on what was the print page) or precision-hyperlinked (to an element, such as a paragraph) and whether indexes should be fully functional. Fully functional may include allowing user input, taking advantage of the digital potential and giving the user an improved experience over print. This is an area for innovation that Cengage may consider in the future. View a pdf of Steve’s presentation here.

For more information on ebook and embedded indexing, visit the Digital Publications Indexing website.