I was in an informal roundtable discussion last week with a handful of authors and someone made a comment that they never put a table of contents in their digital books. I couldn't quite keep the surprise from my face fast enough. What ensued was an emotional debate on why any author should, or shouldn't, include a ToC in their digital book.
I think the fact that numerous retailers like Barnes and Noble and Apple will not include your book in their catalogue if it doesn't have a ToC is reason enough to put one in it. Why would you lock yourself out of reaching millions of additional readers? When I asked the four authors who admitted they didn't bother with a ToC that very question, I got a lot of shrugs and mumbling. Long story short, what I finally found out was that it was too complicated and they simply couldn't get it to work right.
Admittedly, it can be pretty confusing. The dreaded Meat grinder used by Smashwords is enough to make most authors avoid it all together, and the instructions Amazon gives leaves most aggravated and confused. Just 2 days ago I came across an author friend that didn't have a ToC in his book on Amazon. Shocked, I offered to do this for him. Once I got my hands on his .doc file, it was obvious why he didn't.
Using Jutoh to do his book, the program was set for automatic format. It was a tangled mess of formatting marks that were so terribly unnecessary. What should have taken me an hour to do, turned out to be 11 hours spent stripping the formatting out, then reformatting it just so I could get the ToC to work. However, his book now looks like a million bucks on Amazon, and he's tickled pink. It was worth it :)
In light of my experience, I wondered how wide spread this problem was. So far, it looks like about 1 out of 5 authors shy away from using ToCs, and another 1 out of about 8 that have one, it doesn't work properly. These are not hard stats, just a rough estimate on my part from asking around.
I'd like to run an informal survey. Please scroll down and take this poll. I'll post the results at the close of the poll.
If you need ToC formatting, or eBook formatting for upload to Smashwords and Amazon, you can contact me at Chameleonfirstname.lastname@example.org