e-Book Design Tips
track e-book circulation


Note: Ideas in this article describe a method of embedding obtaining limited tracking information from E-Books that you create. This potentially allows you to collect some information (example: IP address) about your users. It is generally considered good practice to disclose your privacy and data-collection policies.

In some countries, this type of disclosure may be required by law.

We are not attorneys or lawyers, so can not offer you legal advice (and nothing in this article is, nor should be construed as, legal advice). If you need legal advice, please consult with a lawyer.

Track E-Book Circulation
First published in E-Book Compiler Newsletter

If you release a free e-book which you allow others to distribute and pass on ("viral marketing"), is there a way to tell how many people are opening your e-book?

Yes! Although it is going to be an approximate number rather than totally accurate...

Here's how:

Make a small 1 pixel X 1 pixel image on your web site. A transparent GIF image would be ideal.

In the main page of your e-book, put in HTML code something like this in an inconspicuous location:

<IMG SRC="http://www.yoursite.com/smallimage.gif" WIDTH="1" HEIGHT="1">
What will now happen, is that every time somebody opens the e-book, the image will be loaded from your web site. Provided your web host provides logging facilities, this will appear in your web site logs...

Some important points:
  1. If you have more than one e-book, make sure that you use a different image in each of your e-books.

  2. It's not 100% accurate because it won't count if the user is not connected to the Internet when they open the page.

  3. If you want, you could even add different images to each page, and you could track which pages of your e-book are most popular. This could be very helpful information if you want to know which parts of your e-book are most popular, for example, because your e-book includes advertising links or banners.
Follow up Article:

Lane Williams kindly contributed 2 follow-up articles which expand on the techniques described above. See "Track E-Book Circulation Using ASP" and "Track E-Book Circulation Using ASP + Access Database".


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