Using ZIP Archives That Contain "Website-in-a-Box" Books

Bob Swanson offers his books in several electronic formats. This web page describes how to extract a stand-alone website book ("Website-in-a-box") from a ZIP archive. This format offers the advantage that you can read the e-book without any special software beyond a good web browser.

File archiving is as old as the Internet. One of the earliest, and longest-lived systems is called ZIP. One or more files are enclosed in a single file, usually with compression to save space and connect time.

When a number of web page components are stored together in one archive, I call it a "website-in-a-box", a configuration that makes it easy to view a particular multipart document using only your web browser without connecting to the internet. Examples of such book offerings include:

Bluejacket Mail, A Postal History of the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in the First World War

Domestic U. S. Military Facilities of the First World War, 2nd Edition

When you are dealing with a ZIP archive, you cannot use the enclosed electronic document(s), unless you first extract all the component files from the ZIP archive.

If you order such a book in this format, you will receive a ZIP file containing the book, or a link from which you can download the book contents. Store this file on your computer or phone/tablet.

Once downloaded, extracting the contents of ZIP files is very easy if you are using the Windows (tm) operating system. Simply double-click on the ".zip" file that you just downloaded. Windows versions after about "95" will automatically display the "Archive" contents to you. Copy the files from the content list of the archive to a "clean" (empty) working directory (folder) on your computer, phone, or tablet. At that point, you can use the enclosed file(s) and read the book.

If you are not using Windows, you can still extract ZIP archive contents. There is a very good free product called 7ZIP, which has been released for a wide variety of phones, tablets, and computer systems. Download and use that product (or App) to extract the ZIP contents. You can get a free copy of 7ZIP from the website 7ZIP Download. Near the bottom of the web page are listed the non-Windows systems for which you can get a free copy of 7ZIP. Follow their installation instructions. Use your App "store" on the phone or tablet to get the 7ZIP App for your particular device.


How do you use the files ZIPed in a group ("website-in-a-box")? Once you have extracted the files into a new, empty, folder (directory) on your computer, phone, or tablet, the book should be ready to read. To read the book, make your web browser open the "index.html" file in that group of files just extracted. (This is usually the "Open" menu selection.) Your browser will then become the document "reader" as you view the book you purchased. You do not need to be connected to the internet, and you do not need any special viewer tool, aside from your browser.

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Updated 17 September, 2020