I shop for mostly non-fiction books. Most of these books tend to be on new and emerging technologies. When I’m purchasing a book on a technology, I really want to know the content of the book before I purchase it. What I really want is a table of contents. Just a list of the chapter lists and maybe even a more detailed list of the topics covered in each chapter, but at least some form of the table of contents would be very helpful in my purchasing decision.
The sad thing is, not many of these books actually publish a table of contents online. At the time when I was first searching for books, one of the notable series that didn’t publish this was Head First Labs. They have since changed their ways and publish a PDF version of each books TOC on the individual book page. Another good example is the new Hillegass book. While this is a great book, and I was going to buy it, with, or without a look at the TOC it would still be great to see the TOC, so I knew what I was purchasing.
There is another one that really drove me up the edge. I purchased the first edition of Bullet Proof Web Design, and thought it was a GREAT book. While Dan’s site now has an updated TOC, it didn’t when the book first came out, and the publishers book page does not list the table of contents, even though they will give you chapter 1 for review. The other problem with this book, is that even at the time of this post, there is no real mention about what has been updated in the second edition of this book. Now, I definitely see the cause for someone new web design to buy this book, but why should “I”, a reader of the previous edition shell out another $25 for this one?
This is just another instance of not giving the customers what they need. How hard is it to publish your TOC? It is a simple list element on your webpage. You aren’t giving out anything that special, just giving your customers an idea of what they will be purchasing. That is rule number 1 in sales: give the customers what they want.