eBooks: Special characters in URLs not always supported in eBooks

This post is part of So You Want to Make an eBook?. I’m working on a second version, but as before I’m releasing this book in sections on my blog. You can find all the posts here.
One of the nice cross-promotional things you can do with your eBooks is to place links to your other work, or have links to resources outside the book itself.  As more people read on tablet-like devices (arguably the newest nooks and Fire are low-end tablets themselves), having external links is a very doable thing.


First, some retailers (I’m looking at you, Apple) will not allow links to outside retailers.  I can confirm this firsthand – it happened with the afterword of Net Impact (Don Bingle’s great spy thriller – check out this review, then pick up a copy!).  There’s some books that are available on Amazon or B&N, but simply are not available on iTunes… but that didn’t matter.  I ended up removing the links for iTunes alone – and that’s another reason I (and Seth Godin) recommend that authors be able to sell or distribute their own book.

The other problem I ran into while working on digital conversions of two Now You Tell Me! books for Arundel publishing.  (These, by the way, look great.  I wish I’d had Now You Tell Me! 12 College Students Give the Best Advice They Never Got when I went into college, and even as a writer, the stuff in Now You Tell Me! 12 Actors Give the Best Advice They Never Got is useful – especially about learning from observation and getting in character’s heads.)

Anyway, you might notice links like this in your browser bar sometimes:


Depending on how modern your browser is, when you click it, the last part of that link may render as Semana-Poética in the address bar (what it’s supposed to be) instead of Semana-Po%C3%A9tica.  As far as the computer’s concerned, though, the second is the actual HTML encoding. 

Except it didn’t work when we proofread the eBook – it went to an error page.   Amazon links (among others) often kick back errors when you’re running through ePubcheck – because of the ampersand in the URL (and we know how I feel about ampersands).

The simplest solution for both of these is to use an url-shortening service, such as tinyurl or bit.ly.  Both will take your mangled mess of an URL and convert it into something that both passes ePubcheck and will get your readers where you want them to go.
This post was part of So You Want to Make an eBook?. If you find this useful, buy the current version or toss me a few bucks in the coffee cups to the side there and encourage me to get it bloody well done. You can find all the posts here.

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