Books on Your Blog or WebSite: PDF or eBook? Why You Should Choose PDFs.

There's lots of chatter right now about adding books (eBooks, booklets) to blogs - particularly law firm blogs.  Usually, this talk is accompanied with a discussion of coordinating those publications with an offer for the book at no charge in exchange for the reader signing up to a service like Aweber.

More and more law firms are doing this.  A nice book cover image appears in the sidebar; it's a free offer for in-depth information on an important topic like tips on avoiding foreclosure; tips on making end of life decisions; ways to limit risk in alternative investments, etc.  Click on the image and the reader usually has to provide an email address in order to get the freebie, and afterwards that email address may receive a series of follow-ups: more free information, etc.

Choosing to Build a Book for Your Blog or Web Site  

Along with the chatter about books on blogs comes lots of confusion and I've had several calls from clients and colleagues that are overwhelmed about the process (or options) once they start investigating this stuff.  Once they understand their state's bar regulations on the issue, and they've got a game plan on what they want to accomplish, then comes the practical decisions to be made.  How to get this done - it's not as easy as it may first appear. 

Offering a free book on your blog is not a bad idea -- it's a good idea -- but you need to know at the get-go that it isn't all that easy to get from start to finish.

Right now, self-publishing eBooks are trendy.  These are coded documents that can be read on specific devices (e-Readers) like Kindles, Nooks, Sony eReaders, as well as IPads, Kindle Fires, etc.

This is usually the first kind of document that the lawyer envisions.  Maybe the only one, because many aren't considering PDF formatted documents as something that can create snazzy books for their sidebar.   All this talk about self-publishing means many lawyers don't understand the different options open to them. 

PDF Books for Your Sidebar

For lots of lawyers and law firms, the formatted eBook alternative of using a .pdf document, formatted both for security and for a professional appearance, is the preferred option.  Surf around and you will find that PDF documents are appearing quite often in blog and site sidebars as the chosen format for that free book offering.

Why a PDF?  

1.  PDF books are easy to create: you can create your book using Microsoft Word or Open Office.  No need to learn fancy coding like you need for a self-published eBook for Kindles or IPads.  

2.  PDF books can be full-color with sophisticated graphic design.  This format allows a glossy, magazine-like product that self-published eBooks cannot provide now with their coding limitations.  Kindles and other eReaders don't like images very much, and they are hard to insert into the reader-approved format. 

3.  The PDF option gives you lots of number-play.  With a PDF book, you can include all sorts of graphs or tables or pie chart images that the Amazon/Smashwords/etc. coded eBook cannot include now.  Footnotes, no problem.  E books coded for Kindle or the IPad or the Nook are best left to words alone, black on white text, with hyperlinks.  No footnotes, please.  Check out various magazines, blogs, and other graphically-oriented publications on the nearest Kindle or Sony E-Reader and see what you find.  

4.  Most readers are familiar with the PDF format; additionally, these documents can be read on almost every device.  You can even upload a PDF document onto a Kindle, for example.  However, you cannot read a Kindle eBook on any device other than a Kindle eReader or a computer that has downloaded the free Kindle software onto its hard drive.  

What I Suggest You Consider Doing For Your First Publication

For law firm clients ready to place books on their blogs or web sites, I proposed that they review their blogs or newsletters to find a series of posts or a single theme that can serve as the springboard for a .pdf document.   

Next, prepare a Word (or Open Office) document with text that flows, pulling together those blog posts or newsletter articles into a cohesive document that will serve the reader well as a PDF book.  Make sure to include a table of contents and an "about the author" section.  

Work with a graphic designer if you choose to do so, or just use a Word template.  Get your Word document looking like a professional product, then convert it to a PDF document.  

Make sure that you have your security features in place (no cutting and pasting, limited sharing or printing, etc.) and you're done.  

Now you have a very nice offering, in a format that most recognize and can read on whatever screen they choose to use, that can be:

             a.  placed on the blog;
             b.  sent by email to whomever you choose; and
             c.  used in an email marketing campaign;