Smartphone texting and the 140-character limit on Twitter have made people conscious of the amount of space their words take up. Sometimes you just want to save space and time when you type a link for a book on a website, blog or in an email.
If you look for a link on a bookseller's website, you may encounter an extremely long and cumbersome string of characters that requires lots of time and space and invites errors.
Here's the ugly result of a Google search for my newest book:
Here's the even worse result of a search within the Amazon website:
If I go directly to the book page, I get this monstrosity:
Sometimes I get this shorter version:
HOWEVER, it's possible to prune the extraneous material to get a shorter string:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0981661769. I can drop the http://www and it will still work: amazon.com/dp/0981661769.
If I search for the book on the Barnes & Noble website, I get this looong string:
I can shorten it to: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/9780981661766. As above, I can remove the http://www and use barnesandnoble.com/s/9780981661766.
I can save even more characters by using "bn.com" instead of "barnesandnoble.com": bn.com/s/9780981661766.
HOWEVER, there's a great free online service that provides even shorter, fully-functioning links: Bitly.com
You just type in your long, clunky link and PRESTO, you get a short link that you can easily copy and paste wherever you want.
You can even drop off the http:// and reduce your character count by seven more: amzn.to/1tHcFIR.
Some shortened links have a Bitly "domain," as with bitly.com/1p8oAfF.
Bitly says it shortens more than one billion links per month. The company also provides statistics about link-clicking, and custom short links such as amzn.to for Amazon and nyti.ms for the New York Times.
BItly's dot-ly "domain" is controlled by the government of Libya. This may not inspire confidence, but millions of Bitly users -- including me -- are willing to take a chance.