Where to start with Online Book


Hello, I am new to the forums and not a UI/UX person so please be patient.

Not sure where to post my questions or even where to beging, but here goes…

I am working on a startup company, and one of the things I will be selling are online books.

First off, I don’t see how anyone can make a profit on a printed book considering the enormous costs, and I’m leery of eBooks because why give mazon half of your profit, and PDF make me nervous because of piracy.

So what is an “online book”?

To me it means that I would publish my book as a huge webpage, and then restrict access to paid members.

Hopefully that makes sense?

My first question on ths topic is, “How should I split up my book?”

For instance, I just wrote a 1,000 page book, and I don’t think anyone - even sitting at home with fiber - would appreciate having to load 1,000 pages in their web browser?!

I hope that this is the correct website and forum to ask such questions, because when I try to ask developers and even web designers about this they balk.

Here is hoping you don’t stone me for asking this large first questions!! :blush:


You’re welcome to ask questions, it’s why we’re here.

How do Google books do it? That might be a good place to start.


Do you know the answer to that? Can you give me a little more?

It seems to me that most authors of books run off and create books for things like Kindle and eReaders and maybe also create PDFs.

My problem with that it those formats seem too easy to steal. (They are also limiting if someone doesn’t like Kindle.

So my solution was to “webify” my book and put it behind a “paywall” where Mrs. Smith pays $0 for the “book”, and I give her unlimited access to the book which is in the format of a webpage(s).

What I am asking for help here, is how to present a book this way.

As mentioned above, if I have a book that is 1,000-1,300 pages in length, it seems silly to make all of that one gigantic webpage. And even if I split it up into chapters, I fear that making someone load a 100 page webpage which represents a “chapter” might be too much. (Of course I am thinking about desktop users, and mobile users is a whole other issue!!)

So all of this, to me, relates to “design” and “UI” and “UX” decisions, although one could argue that my questions could also be asked in a database or PHP programming forum because they probably have a technical component of how to solve my problem.

But alas, I am hoping that all of you can provide better solutions than a PHP programmer could.

Does that make sense?

And can the group help me to start tackling this issue, because it is the last missing piece to my puzzle and having the ability to finally monetize my book!

Thanks in advance. :slight_smile:


I doubt you’ll find many people on here who have done this and I think @HAWK’s answer is very sound. Look at Google books for a start as that’s probably the biggest online example. Try reading a book on there and figure out what you like and dislike about the experience.

Personally, I would never read a book from front to back online as all my full-book reading tends to be for leisure and that means either over lunch away from my desk or in bed. If it is a reference type book then the user’s needs will be different and you need to think about things like search, indexing, bookmarking etc.

Also, bear in mind that anything online can be pirated quite easily. I used to use an e-journal service when I was a student and they tried to make it as difficult as possible to copy or print their journals but I still managed it.

While you might not like the idea of giving half your profit to Amazon, they do have a very easy to use print-on-demand service and lots of people may prefer to have a Kindle version rather than one attached to a glowing screen. I wouldn’t dismiss the idea too quickly even if you have to charge Amazon purchasers extra to make the same profit as direct.


By easy to use, I mean that it took me about two to three hours to go from a document that I had made for my daughter to use to a ready to sell print on demand book. I expect my next one will be half an hour now I know what I am doing.


I’m looking at a “CSS Web Design for Dummies” book on Google Books.

If I could remove the large browser header and if it didn’t look like I was reading an image, I would say it is okay to me reading online.

Not sure about what others think.


Why is that?

Here is how I see things…

I often find myself enthralled in some mega-long article/expose in online magazines/papers like The New Yorker, Salon, The Atlantic, Rolling Stone, etc. They go on for 10, 20 30 pages and I just glow and I read and easily scroll away.

Now granted, these are usually just prose articles, and not How-To guides like I have written, but it seems retty natural to me.

I have also read IT books online - although usually in PDF format - and again, they read just fine. (In fat, I see you sell some of them here!) :wink:

But would you read a book about how to tune your computer in bed? :slight_smile:

True, but here is my thinking…

If I take my Word doc and turn it into a PDF, all someone who buys it has to do is upload it to their Facebook account or email it out to 100 fiends and they have stolen my hard-fought work.

But if I convert my book to a web page(s), and put it behind a paywall, and do some amateur things like disable Javascript and File Save As, etc., then most casual thieves (i.e. Mrs. Smith who wants to share this with her lady friends) would be dead in their tracks.

And for those serious pirates, then I guess I would be screwed the minute I put things online.

But better to stop obvious theft, then to let people walk all over you, no?

I’m pretty sure I can convert a Word doc to a Kindle format for free on my own. nd I could sell that eBook format on my website on my own. (Again, I thought I saw you all doing that on this site, no?)

My gut just tells me that keeping my book as a series of webpages behind a paywall is more secure, but I could be wrong.

Either way, my original question was trying to get advice on HOW to go about breaking down a book in a word processor to the Internet.

For example, it is no big deal to open up a Word doc or a PDF - even online - that is 1,000 pages long. However, I might really make some people made if they clicked on a link and even 50 pages started to download in their browser - let alone 1,00 pages! (And what if someone is trying to view this book on their iPhone/Android?!)

Do I break my book which is 1,000 pages down into 25 chapters at 40 pages a crack?

Do I need to further divide and conquer and just have one web page be maybe 5-10 pages and then hyperlink it to the next 5-10 page block until you finally get to the end of the chapter?

Follow me?

That completely seems to fall under “UI/UX Design” if you ask me…


That is impressive.

I DREAD the thought of having to manually markup 1,000 pages of my Open Offce Write document into HTML and CSS… :disappointed_relieved:

Of course, that is another area where I probably need help - desktop publishing!!

My book is designed for a mom to pick it up along with her computer, start at page 1, and 1,000 pages later to have a computer that does exactly what she set out to do and for her efforts to make total sense. 1-2-3.

I think my book is easy to read, but I am sure a desktop publisher (or a UI/UX person) could easily pick apart my book as “amateurish”.

So where do I begin?

(I constantly battle between creating something perfect with creating something good enough to sell. And my friends often yell at me to stop pursuing the former!!)


Thoughts to what I said?

Anyone else want to join in?


What do you want to achieve? (and I dont mean how to publish a google book)

Why do you want an online book vs an eBook etc?


Just went back and re-read my OP. Looks like I left my brain at work this week?!

Let me start over…

I just wrote my first book - a humongous 27 chapter, 1,000 page book. A computer guide to be specific.

I would love to see it on the shelf in Barnes & Noble, but considering the local copy shop charges $0.13 per page for black & white copies, I cannot fathom how anyone could have a printed book that size and not sell it for under US$100?!

And so that is probably why I am looking to create a “digital” book instead.

However, this create new problems…

First, I want to present my book in a way that reduces the chance of piracy!! As such, I’m not too excited about converting my word document into a PDF, because then one person would buy it, and simply email it to the world. And my fear is that eBooks would fall victim to the same issues.

So I figured I would just make my book a huge web page, and stick it behind a paywall.

But that leads to another problem…

Second, I have no idea how to lay out (i.e. “design”) a 1,000 book as a web page or series of web pages?!

THAT is what I as trying to say and ask in my OP. :blush:

Since then, things don’t seem as foggy. And as I mentioned in my “Welcome” thread, I took out some loose-leaf paper and started sketching things out, and I think I have a good approach to doing this, but of course, YOU ALL are the experts, so here I am asking for help!!

Is that a little more coherent than my OP?


Definitely haha. I thought that was what you were alluding to but people were going off on tangents.

Firstly done agree to print and bound before you get quotes.

Kindle is pretty popular now, as are EBooks which are formatted for readers on Tablets or phone which resemble kindle.

So how confident are you it would sell?

You could try kindle (amazon take a large cut, but their market is huge) to see how popular it is and base your publishing on this?


[quote=“boatiesnz, post:12, topic:8063, full:true”]
So how confident are you it would sell?


I am very confident that the library of books I plan to write have the potential to be successful.

But please see my bolded points above…

I am leery of PDFs and Kindle and other eBook formats because they seem very easy to pirate.

It seems to me that converting my book into a web page behind a paywall would make it more difficult for people to steal/pirate.

But if I go that route, I am unsure of how to do the layout, because you can’t expect people to load a 1,000 page web page in their browsers?

Follow my UI/UX question now???


Yes but do you understand the user experience of reading Web Books? Its not going to be something I would read on a computer 1000 pages of. You would have to be pretty darn successful to get pirated. And given most pirate sites have gone under (ever since the hunt to lock up the owners etc).

You are in limbo then. I think you need to think rationally and make ease of use of the book a priority which includes things like kindle looking much closer to paper than any other format.

Perhaps find a batch to print and sell. If you believe in your product that much.

I personally find google books painful, 1000 pages would be exhausting.

What do you feel your best way forward is?


Not really.

I have never owned a Kindle or any kind of eBook reader. have seen them from afar, but that’s it.

As far as reading content online… I work in IT, so almost everything I read is online. Granted, I haven’t seen any 1,000 page books online LOL but most manuals and guides I have read are online.

This website sells a couple of UI/UX books, and I think those come in an online format, or at least PDF, right?

In the past, I have read a lot of shorter guides that were web pages. Websites like Smashing would be a good example. I have also read a far amount of IT books that were PDF’s.

I love paper books, but going that route might be out of my reach financially, and if it was doable, it would kill profits.

If I split my book up into 25 chapters, each one being a “web page” of around 40 pages, is that so bad?

If it isn’t clear, I wrote a computer how-to guide, so one main reason my book is so long is that is it packed full of screen shots!! “Click here and you will see . Then type this, and click here, and you will now see …”

I don’t even think you could do that on something like a Kindle, right?!

I’m sorta confused why you and others think it is so foreign to have a how-to computer book as webpage, considering almost every computer tutorial I have read in the past 20 years has been online as web page (or web pages linked together).

Okay, so maybe “piracy” should NOT be the driver, but rather “usability” should be?! :blush:

So I should be on the right website if I need help making my book and content successful in terms of usability, right?!

I just come to the “uability” conclusion before reading what you just said.

I did not understand your Kindle comment.

Okay, look, let’s re-set the conversation…

If you were me, and you just wrote a 25 chapter, 1,000 page computer how-to book with a boat-load of screenshots and tables and ilustrations, and you wanted to sell it in a digital format, how would you tackle things??

For now, I will press “pause” on the whole piracy thing.

However, I will say that i do NOT want to get pigeon-holed into something specific like Kindle.

I want people on Macs and PCs and laptops and desktops (and possibly tablets) to be able to read my book in a comfortable way.

I am pretty certain that one format I want to try is a series of linked web pages on my website behind a paywall.

However, I am open to PDF’s, ePubs, and all that other stuff.

Somewhat out-of-scope for this website, but i would also consider doing a print book if it was attainable?!

I do.

A 1,000 page print book is exhausting!

Hint: You don’t read a book like that on the couch in a weekend.

You sit at a desk or with a laptop on yoru lap and you work though it in 21-30 days…

The book I wrote is mor elike a textbook for college, than a romance novel you’d read in bed.

Obviously I want it to be pleasurable to read, as well as being informative. But don’t kid yourself into thinking that reading it(and learning) won’t be work. And that is regardless of the book format!!

See above.

What does everyone else think?

Don’t be shy!

I could really sue some help here in making sure I go down the right path!!!


I would go Kindle in multiple books, But hard to say without seeing the content…

Nobody is going to read a 1000 page book on a lappy from the web,

Also google books are taken from actual physical Books.

The reason Kindle does sooooo well is it takes the eye strain off and you can read it at night etc.I hope this isnt a UX design book you want to put 1000 pages on the net :slight_smile:

There is no easy answer as you want to publish what sounds like a text book, which really should be in paper and print or ebook, but you are worried about either cost or torrents. How many torrent sites do you still see around?

Have you approached google about the security of Kindle books, there is more to it than copying it and putting it on a torrent site.

The only other suggestion I could make is turn it into a tutorial, not forgetting many people cant learn from books.

I really want to help you


Also dont forget print On Demand Publishing

And this site gives great tips for self publishing;



In multiple books??

Would people read a 1,000 page book on an eReader?

Google Books look like they scanned in the paper pages. I would NOT want to read even a 30 page book on Google Books.

I would defintely read my 1,000 page book as a series of web pages, because I could do a good job on the web design, and make them a joy to read on a laptop or desktop! (But it doesn’t seem like others are buying that?!)

It is a book on configuring your Macintosh.

Based on talking to some people and doing a little research, piracy is what it is, and there isn’t really isn’t much one can do to stop it. So I guess I won’t let that topic paralyze me.

As far as format, my preferences would be: #1: Paper Book, #2: Web Page, #3: eBook.

If you take the piracy issue out of the equation, and assuming that most people would prefer an eBook over a Web Page, then I can easily convert my word porcessor document to an eBook.

It sound slike that is what you would ecommend, right?

That is what my book is… It is a TUTORIAL!!! A humongous step-by-step, paint-by-dots tutorial targeted towards moms and families.

And while many of the chapters I wrote could stand on their own as mini-guides, for my first book, I want to present the whole thing as a gigantic compendium. (A “soup-to-nuts” guide on configuring your computer!)

We are making some progress… :wink:

What do others think??


Yeah but this isn’t about you, it’s about your audience. I would’t read anything that wasn’t on a Kindle, for e.g.

I think you need to do some research here.


If you were reading a How-To computer guide - not too disimilar from some of the books you sell on this site - would you still feel the same way?

I’m sure reading War & Peace next to the fireplace on a Kindle is much more cozy than sitting at your desktop.

But if you were trying to set things up on your computer, would it be easier to do it sitting up at a desk and not by the fireplace?

My book is not for pleasure, it is to teach people computer skills.

Just sayin…