It didn’t take long for the conversation to get around to e-books when we holidayed in Muskoka cottage country last summer. A university professor was actively engaged in publishing one in between swims. All that was left to do was the Index — and this was a problem.

Unlike paperbacks, the Look Inside This Book feature for Amazon’s Kindle books does not provide a Search box for individual words. The reader can only look at the Cover or the Beginning chapter.

In contrast, the problem of an index is no headache if you are publishing a paperback. It may not be necessary to have one. If the author chooses the “Look Inside This Book” feature on the Amazon catalog page, the reader can click on it and then click again to enter any word in the search box that appears.

For example, in my catalog page for A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void  in the paperback version (, if you enter the word “Indians”, 51 retrievals will pop up, “love” — 47, ” letter” — 37,  “canoe” — 23,  “cariole” — 14,  “Prince of Wales” — 3, and so on. This is a free service Amazon provides for authors and readers of paperbacks.

Could this possibly be offered to e-books too? Self-publishers don’t have the time to worry about indexes in between swims and canoe rides at the cottage.

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