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I'm re-releasing a novella of mine as a self-published ebook shortly, and I'm wondering what to do with the traditional "front matter" of the book: copyright information, dedications, acknowledgements, etc. In an e-book format, would it be acceptable to have those things in the back of the book rather than the front?

The reason for this is that most ebook sales systems allow for a certain percentage of the book to be read up-front by browsers, and if you put all of these miscellanies in the front of the book, then you're giving up several pages out of the sample for something that most readers will simply skip over.

Is there some other legal or practical reason why I couldn't move these things to the end of the ebook?

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3 Answers

I would suggest leaving it at the front. While it is true that "sampling" would result in potential readers getting less true content, it really won't have that much impact (unless you have a very wordy dedication). Even with that, you don't want to be giving away too much of the actual content anyway. Your readers are going to skip over that stuff anyway, and you will still be able to provide them with enough content to enable them to decide whether or not they want to pay for the full version.

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For me it would depend on what would get cut. If the preview is "the first chapter," no matter how long, then leave the front matter at the front. If it's "the first ten pages," no matter where the story stops, then you might want to move the colophon and author's comments to the end, so the preview piece reads more smoothly.

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The standards for ePub aren't as set as for printed works, but you should keep the copyright information at the front (and don't forget that your e-version requires its own ISBN -- the one in the printed edition can't be reused). The dedication should be at the front, but even in printed books the acknowledgements, author bio and other miscellany can be in the back matter.

There is no half-title page in an e-book, because you don't need it (it's there to attach to the cover or end papers), and your TOC sits in a sidebar rather than in the body of the book, so after the title page and copyright you would have the preface, if any, and introduction.

Amazon and the other ePub sellers I know of let you pick what you want for sample pages, so I don't think that's too much to worry about.

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