View Full Version : Hall of Shame


AlexBell
04-05-2010, 06:25 AM
There have been several threads complaining about the number of typos in ebooks etc. Most of the discussions have been about the causes of the shoddy productions, but I would like to try to do something to improve the situation.

We all know that there are many ebooks which are produced very well indeed, as well as any print book. But we also know that many ebooks are so poorly produced that most of us would be ashamed to have them go out over our signature.

My idea has two parts
1. That we name poorly produced books and their publishers, giving details of the faults;
2. That we let the publisher know that we have done so, including at least the name of the thread on this forum.

I hope in this way to motivate the publisher to correct the faults for the sake of continuing to make sales.

I'll start with Flashman by George MacDonald Fraser, published by HarperCollins UK. It is an ePub, and I read it on my ECO Reader.

To start with it has wide left and right margins, so that only 68mm of the 92mm wide screen is available for text. Even worse there is a quote from another book as a preface, and this quote is in a column only 28mm wide. It looks ridiculous.

Each chapter in the book starts on a new page, which I like. But the text of each new chapter starts 75mm down the 125mm screen.

One of the charms of the Flashman series is that Mr. Fraser gives several footnotes providing historical background. But the superscript in this ebook is the same size font as the rest of the text, which require a bigger line space and is very distracting. Even worse, although the links work to take one from the text to the footnote they do not work to take one from the footnote back to the text.

There are a disgraceful number of typos scattered throughout the text. Flashman appears as Flash-man several times, FU appears in a sentence and makes the meaning incomprehensible, and If! occurs where the text calls for If I. And there are many other typos.

I certainly would not have bought this book if I had know how badly formatted it is.

Regards, Alex

PS. I suggest that this thread be restricted to complaints about poor formatting and typos, and that the name of the book, publisher, format, and ebook reader used be included in the review.

Still no response from HarperCollins. When I went into the HTML to try to fix the typos I found that my HTML editor could not read it; it looks like machine code to my untutored ey.

John F
04-05-2010, 08:28 AM
Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King. Purchased at Fictionwise. Many typos, missing punctuation. My guess is that they OCRd to generate the ebook. I would think any kind of proof reading/spell checking would have turned up many errors. :smack:

Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris. The table of contents and chapter titles are wrong. Chapters are titled "~1", ~2". If you go to kobo books, you can see the problem just by looking at the web page for the book. I thought this was kinda funny as the table of contents and chapter titles appear messed up even at the most cursory review. :smack:

I purchased both of these at Fictionwise. They were very nice to deal with. I told them I didn't want a refund (as I had read the books), but they gave me one anyway.

wallflower75
04-05-2010, 08:32 AM
E-squared by Matthew Beaumont, published by HarperCollins, purchased at Sony's eBookstore. Half of the book is unreadable. Sure, the book was written in the form of emails, text messages, and blogs, but I've purchased the other two books in this series and had no trouble at all. With this book, it's like they just scanned it in--and didn't go back and check to make sure it looked okay.

mr ploppy
04-05-2010, 08:38 AM
To start with it has wide left and right margins, so that only 68mm of the 92mm wide screen is available for text. Even worse there is a quote from another book as a preface, and this quote is in a column only 28mm wide. It looks ridiculous.

If it isn't copy protected, that is something you could easily change yourself. I usually have the opposite problem, where the margins aren't wide enough and the page numbers my reader adds crash into the text.

BTW, the one I posted example mistakes from was Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry. The last ebook I bought was Fetish by J F Gonzalez, but it was a PDF that needed converting so I ran it through a spelling check in my word processor as part of that. There was lots and lots of mistakes, but I didn't keep a list of them.

AlexBell
04-09-2010, 03:05 AM
'Zionism, the Real Enemy of the Jews, vol 1:The False Messiah, published by Clarity Press www.claritypress.com, downloaded as a sample from Amazon as Kindle for PC, and read on my ECO Reader.

This is the worst formatted ebook I have ever read.

I hardly know where to start.
- there are many lines of text in which there are no spaces at all between the words. E.g. unconditionalsupportforIsraelisnotinAmerica'sownbe stinterests.Infact

I know that's hard to believe, but it's there, along with many others.
- There are many footnotes in the text. They numbers are full size font, thus requiring a noticeably increased line space. And the foot notes don't even work! At all!
- Some paragraphs are indented, some are not.
- There are many occasions in which the last word of a sentence is followed by a period, and then there is the first word of the next sentence without any space.
- Subheadings are not marked off in any way, so that one never knows whether it's a subheading or a single sentence paragraph.
- I suspect that the print book uses 'pull-quotes', i.e. short sentences which are taken out of the text, and put in a box at the side in a darker font, with the rest of the text flowing around the pull-quote. In this ebook version the pull-quote just appears at the side of the page, and the text starts again after it. All that does is to repeat the text for no obvious reason. And though pull-quotes can be effective in books and websites they occur so often in this ebook that they become a distraction.
- The absolute crowning example though is that one of the _author's_ previous books, Waiting for the Apocalypse, is cited as Waiting for the Apocalpyse.

I certainly won't be buying this ebook.

I would like to see something like the Ig-nobel annual prize for the worst formatted ebook which is sold each year. Perhaps we could make nominations and have the moderators (many of whom upload superbly formatted ebooks) choose the 'winner'. I nominate this book for 2010.

--
Regards, Alex

The version at Amazon remains unchanged.

AlexBell
05-23-2010, 06:46 AM
Another entry for the Hall of Shame - from Penguin Books of all people.

The book is Interventions, by Noam Chomsky, as an ePub ebook. I'll review the errors found in the first three sections, though there are many faults are scattered through the rest of the book - on almost every 'page'.

It has margins of 1.5em, which works out to be 9mm on my Cybook Gen3 which has a screen 90mm wide. So 20% of the screen is white space; not available for text.

- 'written specifically for the Ne w Y o r k T imes', and this is repeated again in the Editor's note and in several other places.

- 'Scheer's f i ring could have been attributed .. by the likes of Fox's BillO' Reilly'

- 'after Hu go Chavez praised it'

- 'he would not be that unusualXB... because'

- 'relatively pri v i l e ged minority'

- 'w e ll b e f o r e 9/11 it was'

Almost every page has a similar error.

As in so many ebook footnotes are shown by a superscript number, which forces an ugly wider line space. Penguin does not seem to have noticed that ebooks are not print books, and need not be bound by the same conventions. There is no need to mark footnotes by superscripts - putting them in square brackets with a smaller font works just as well.

But the crowning glory is that there is an index, complete with page numbers - page numbers are meaningless in ebooks.

In the past I haven't known whether to be more concerned that publishers would shovel out rubbish like this without proof reading it, or that the publisher shoveled it out anyway without any concern for their reputation. Now I'm starting to wonder whether this is a deliberate ploy by Penguin to turn people off ebooks so that they will return to print books.

Regards, Alex

GlenBarrington
05-23-2010, 09:08 AM
and will vary from file format to file format. I think a hall of shame needs a more universal approach and deal with issues that transcend format, opinion and maybe even language issues.

Yeah, it's tougher that way, but you don't get bogged down in endless arguments over whether or not a book should or should not be included.

JSWolf
05-23-2010, 09:18 AM
and will vary from file format to file format. I think a hall of shame needs a more universal approach and deal with issues that transcend format, opinion and maybe even language issues.

Yeah, it's tougher that way, but you don't get bogged down in endless arguments over whether or not a book should or should not be included.

I think most formatting issues are not opinion. They are in fact poor formatting/proofing. Most ePub I get be it purchased or from the library has rather poor formatting. Sometimes an error can take you out of the book you are reading.

A lot of ePub have large paragraph spaces and some have margins that are too wide. Even small paragraph spaces are considered poor formatting. I do prefer no margins, but if the ePub has small margins, then that's my choice to change it as I don't conciser that to be a formatting blunder.

Another issue I've found a lot of is that the publishers think having a text size of small for the body is a good idea. It's not. It's too small. The default size for the body font is what should be used (i.e., no size specified at all for the body).

It's not hard at all to make a good looking ePub. So why is it that publishers have their heads stuck so far up their collective asses that they don't see this?

suecsi
05-24-2010, 07:27 AM
:ditto:

Direct Ebooks
05-24-2010, 07:39 AM
Great idea!

I think in fact that we need to be less specific!
The problem is generally at publisher level. Many dont appreciate that there is significant work required to get a printed book to represent well on an ereader. They should be giving equal priority to the setting and design of all formats.

By giving feedback on the actual publishers, we are encouraging them to up their game as well as rewarding those that do a good job. In turn, knowing that certain publishers have an excellent reputation for the finished product should encourage readers to favour their titles when deciding between eBooks.

We should have some kind or ranking system whereby whenever you read a good or bad eBook, the relevant publisher gets the thumbs up or down. get enough people to participate and believe me, publsihers will start to take notice.

I would actually be willing to help set up such a site either as part of MR or otherwise.

Solicitous
05-24-2010, 07:39 AM
JSWolf, I too prefer to margins, but unfortunately ADE on my reader likes to display little page numbers on the right hand side, and increase in size when I zoom the text. My only fix so far for non DRM is to remove all text resizing and set the right margin to 20pt, that way the text of the body does not overlap the page number and keeps the book readable.

Does anyone have any solutions to removing pages numbers entirely, or are we kind of stuck with it?

JSWolf
05-24-2010, 08:30 AM
JSWolf, I too prefer to margins, but unfortunately ADE on my reader likes to display little page numbers on the right hand side, and increase in size when I zoom the text. My only fix so far for non DRM is to remove all text resizing and set the right margin to 20pt, that way the text of the body does not overlap the page number and keeps the book readable.

Does anyone have any solutions to removing pages numbers entirely, or are we kind of stuck with it?

You Astak PP has a bug inb it's version of ADE. The page number on the right side is NOT supposed to increase when you change the font size. It is supposed to be tiny all the time.

Newer versions of mobile ADE can do away with that page number. The Sony Reader PRS-900 doesn't have the page number on the right side.

JSWolf
05-24-2010, 08:42 AM
Great idea!

I think in fact that we need to be less specific!
The problem is generally at publisher level. Many don't appreciate that there is significant work required to get a printed book to represent well on an ereader. They should be giving equal priority to the setting and design of all formats.

Most ePub that I fix the formatting is not difficult to get it right in the first place. The formatting is fairly standard. Once that's sorted, it's then easy enough to convert to MS Reader and Mobipocket so they look good.

AlexBell
05-25-2010, 12:58 AM
Great idea!

We should have some kind or ranking system whereby whenever you read a good or bad eBook, the relevant publisher gets the thumbs up or down. get enough people to participate and believe me, publsihers will start to take notice.

I would actually be willing to help set up such a site either as part of MR or otherwise.

tony cole, a member of MobileRead Forum, has a section of his blog about poorly formatted ebooks, but has not had much response.

Regards, Alex

PS: the URL is http://www.ebookanoid.com/typos-the-hall-of-typo-shame/

L.J. Sellers
05-25-2010, 10:19 AM
Maybe those who distribute e-books should establish quality control standards and reject anything shoddy, with idea that the publisher should correct the problems and resubmit. It may slightly drive up prices but I think it would be worth it.
L.J.

FatDog
05-25-2010, 11:21 PM
It's an old link but TeleRead has an article from a publisher talking about how a perfectly formatted ebook looks different based on the platform.


http://www.teleread.com/2010/02/09/ebook-formatting-from-a-publishers-perspective-it-isnt-easy-or-simple/

AlexBell
05-26-2010, 01:43 AM
It's an old link but TeleRead has an article from a publisher talking about how a perfectly formatted ebook looks different based on the platform.


http://www.teleread.com/2010/02/09/ebook-formatting-from-a-publishers-perspective-it-isnt-easy-or-simple/

That's a good article, but still with some weaknesses. If a book goes out with a publisher's colophon then it's surely still the publisher's responsibility if the 'middleman' (eg Amazon) makes a mess of the formatting. The publisher has a responsibility to proof read what Amazon produces, and if they make a mess badger Amazon until they fix it. If the publisher doesn't want to take this trouble then it should remove its colophon. They can't have it both ways.

Regards, Alex

JSWolf
06-01-2010, 09:12 PM
Maybe those who distribute e-books should establish quality control standards and reject anything shoddy, with idea that the publisher should correct the problems and resubmit. It may slightly drive up prices but I think it would be worth it.
L.J.

Many publishers have a standard. Seems to be large margins, small font, spaces between paragraphs. Not what I call a well formatted eBook.

JSWolf
06-01-2010, 09:17 PM
It's an old link but TeleRead has an article from a publisher talking about how a perfectly formatted ebook looks different based on the platform.


http://www.teleread.com/2010/02/09/ebook-formatting-from-a-publishers-perspective-it-isnt-easy-or-simple/

What a bunch of nonsense. A well formatted ePub can look good on my 505, ADE for the desktop or laptop, and iPad using iBooks. So really, where is the problem with a well formatted ePub?

mr ploppy
06-03-2010, 03:29 PM
Many publishers have a standard. Seems to be large margins, small font, spaces between paragraphs. Not what I call a well formatted eBook.

The Hanvon, with the original firmware, puts page numbers in the right hand margin, so if that is set at any less than 17pt, the page numbers will crash into the text once it gets into 3 figures. I don't know if that affects any other readers or not. At a guess, the small fonts will be because they know you can zoom in if you want to?

WillAdams
06-14-2010, 08:40 AM
Has anyone had any luck reporting errors and getting them fixed? Do we have contact information for the publishers or Sony to report errors?

I purchased Robert Heinlein's _Space Cadet_ and (tried to) read it over the weekend --- the book had so many errors, I wound up proofreading it instead:

- all discretionary and non-breaking hyphens show up as question marks in the text
- lots of extraneous hyphens
- a couple of chapter titles are mis-spelled
- There're a couple of typos which are so bad as to confuse the meaning of the text (a word specifically referencing a tabu mentioned in an earlier paragraph is replaced w/ gibberish)
- they even get the year of his birth wrong on the last page, rendering it as 190? instead of 1907

Here's an e-mail I sent to Tor Books:

I purchased a copy of Heinlein's _Space Cadet_ and it was so rife w/ errors that rather than enjoying reading it, I found myself proofreading it over the weekend. Apparently this ebook was _never_ proofread, since it has numerous errors, including mis-spelled chapter heads, question marks placed wherever there was a discretionary or non-breaking hyphen, a slash instead of an italic capital ``I'', &c.

I've got a 42MB Notes file exported from my Sony PRS-600 which highlights all of the errors, things like:

Inside front cover:
``From Mars to Venus—to danger-filled advenTures...''
- should be adventures

``...ever managed to become Space Cadets at the Space Academy Young men such as Matt and Tex...''
- missing period, should be ``...Space Academy. Young men...''

pg. 11 ``... thin air stood Hay-worth Hall...''
- extraneous hyphen, should be Hayworth

pg. 22 ``...it had a score showing in it—"yjT Well, he thought...''
- missing end punctuation and closing quote mark, the score is gibberish--- should be ``37'' (had to look that up on the Google Books copy).

pg. 27 ``Lieutenant Ezra Dahlguisty Who Helped Create the Tradition of the Patrol—ig6g-igg6.
- Dahlquist. gibberish at the end should be a pair of years, probably 1969--1996.

pg. 30 ``Don't play 'iron man.'There's no sense...''
- space missing between single quote and ``T''

And it goes on and on like that, w/ a lot of the errors actually confusing the meaning of the text.


William

AlexBell
06-15-2010, 07:17 AM
Has anyone had any luck reporting errors and getting them fixed? Do we have contact information for the publishers or Sony to report errors?

William

I got a refund from Fictionwise a year or so ago, and a response from Clarity Press and Amazon more recently - but no action.

Regards, Alex

JSWolf
06-16-2010, 02:04 PM
I'm reading Living Dead in Dallas (ePub) and there is a missing space after or before almost every italics. And in the CSS it says that it was converted from a PDF copy. Why the hell do publishers think that PDF is a good source format for the other eBook copies? Stupid publishers.

mr ploppy
06-16-2010, 02:20 PM
there is a missing space after or before almost every italics.

That is very common with epub, but I don't know what causes it. Does it say what was used to convert it? The only way around it I've found is to go PDF to Mobi with Mobireader, Mobi to RTF with Calibre, then RTF to Epub with Calibre.

AnemicOak
06-16-2010, 02:30 PM
I'm reading Living Dead in Dallas (ePub) and there is a missing space after or before almost every italics. And in the CSS it says that it was converted from a PDF copy. Why the hell do publishers think that PDF is a good source format for the other eBook copies? Stupid publishers.

That's strange for that particular book. It's been out in other ebook formats for years and they could have sourced the ePub from one of those instead of a PDF.

JSWolf
06-16-2010, 02:36 PM
That's strange for that particular book. It's been out in other ebook formats for years and they could have sourced the ePub from one of those instead of a PDF.

The following is what I found at the beginning of the CSS for Living Dead in Dallas

/* Textcafe version pdf2xml_2.0s54, */
/* A technology developed by Texterity, Inc - www.texterity.com */

So yes, it does seem to be a PDF conversion.

AnemicOak
06-16-2010, 02:48 PM
So yes, it does seem to be a PDF conversion.

Oh, I wasn't doubting you. Just commenting that it was odd.

JSWolf
06-16-2010, 06:11 PM
Oh, I wasn't doubting you. Just commenting that it was odd.

To be honest, it's not as odd as you think. I've read about a lot more PDFs being used as a source for eBook creation. A lot of publishers don't get it.

neilmarr
06-17-2010, 03:28 AM
Right you are, Jon. Using a PDF as source is lazy and usually produces a sloppy result. There are occult errors in a seemingly perfect PDF file that will glare at you if converted to other formats without post-editing. Cheers. Neil

mr ploppy
06-17-2010, 01:07 PM
Right you are, Jon. Using a PDF as source is lazy and usually produces a sloppy result. There are occult errors in a seemingly perfect PDF file that will glare at you if converted to other formats without post-editing. Cheers. Neil

Lazy, but understandable. PDF will be what they send to the printers. But if they are doing it for that reason, it wouldn't explain why the ebooks have a lot more spelling mistakes in them than the print versions.

JSWolf
06-17-2010, 01:17 PM
Lazy, but understandable. PDF will be what they send to the printers. But if they are doing it for that reason, it wouldn't explain why the ebooks have a lot more spelling mistakes in them than the print versions.

Those are OCR and/or spell checking mistakes. One thing I do see a lot of sometimes is the spurious - in a word where it doesn't belong. This is due to either OCR or PDF conversion. And it does break the flow of the book.

There is a digital file out there (mostly in Word) that could be used to make the eBook versions. But that won't happen as the publishers are too shortsighted to see that have no clue what to do.

alecE
07-09-2010, 03:58 PM
And herewith another contender for the Hall Of shame 'Grot Books' award:
Penguin History of Modern China - a sample paragraph is reproduced here with the line breaks as they appear on my 505 liseuse:

With their eyes on the territory's gold, iron ore
and coal deposits, and its strategic position on the
Soviet border, the Japanese encouraged an auto
nomist movement in Mongo liatorebel against
Chine serule.....

Yes, that is how it appeared; no hyphens, strange separations and elisions.

In the first 287 or 797 pages, I'm encountering mangled paragraphs such as the above roughly every 10 pages.

I've emailed Penguin about this. Will post any response I get.
(I have offered to strip the drm off, correct the text and send it back if they'll pay for my time. tongue in cheek, moi?)

mr ploppy
07-09-2010, 06:18 PM
Mostly I've been reading Smashwords books, so it's probably not really fair to publicise how many mistakes are in them. I've had good responses to lists of mistakes I've sent to some of the writers, and got a few free books from them (including one real book), but mostly I'm just ignored.

mikij
07-09-2010, 06:36 PM
And herewith another contender for the Hall Of shame 'Grot Books' award:
Penguin History of Modern China - a sample paragraph is reproduced here with the line breaks as they appear on my 505 liseuse:

With their eyes on the territory's gold, iron ore
and coal deposits, and its strategic position on the
Soviet border, the Japanese encouraged an auto
nomist movement in Mongo liatorebel against
Chine serule.....

Yes, that is how it appeared; no hyphens, strange separations and elisions.

In the first 287 or 797 pages, I'm encountering mangled paragraphs such as the above roughly every 10 pages.

I've emailed Penguin about this. Will post any response I get.
(I have offered to strip the drm off, correct the text and send it back if they'll pay for my time. tongue in cheek, moi?)

Maybe they thought it was a poetry! Just a joke...

If you offered to strip the DRM and fix the text, they could send you a police rather then a cheque. But maybe they care, nobody knows, but I doubt.

AlexBell
07-10-2010, 04:12 AM
Maybe they thought it was a poetry! Just a joke...

If you offered to strip the DRM and fix the text, they could send you a police rather then a cheque. But maybe they care, nobody knows, but I doubt.

What makes you think they even open the emails?

See the next Penguin review below

Regards, Alex

AlexBell
07-10-2010, 04:23 AM
The book is I, Claudius by Robert Graves from ePenguins

Although it does not have the frightful typos that occur in Interventions by Noam Chomsky which I reviewed earlier it has an even more irritating fault: text which is supposed to be indented (in blockquotes) starts at about 40% the width of the page from the left side of the screen.

The margins are a little narrower than in Interventions but are still too wide.

In my earlier post I mentioned that I wondered whether ePenguins was producing such shoddy ebooks deliberately so as to drive us back to print books. I think it's a draw between ePenguins and me: I'll never knowingly buy an ePenguin ebook again, but they haven't succeeded in forcing me back to print books and I doubt that I'll buy a Penguin print book either.

Regards, Alex

alecE
07-10-2010, 05:27 PM
What makes you think they even open the emails?

See the next Penguin review below

Regards, Alex

Current state of play:
Waterstones have responded with a "oops we're sorry, send further details";
Penguin (so far) have responded with a deafening silence.

alecE
07-23-2010, 03:09 PM
Here's the response from Waterstones:
I apologise for the discrepancies you have received in the text content for your recent order ;3482305. I will be more than happy to forward your comments for this to be rectified or removed. Thank you for taking the time to inform our department as we appreciate the comments for quality purposes.

And here's the Penguin response:

That's right, I can't see it either :-)

ryancolm
08-27-2010, 02:55 AM
The book is I, Claudius by Robert Graves from ePenguins ... text which is supposed to be indented (in blockquotes) starts at about 40% the width of the page from the left side of the screen.


I also have this problem with I, Claudius. I gave a scathing review of it (the ebook, not the "real" book) on the Waterstone's website. "Kate" from Waterstone's said: "I'm sorry that you had problems with this eBook. We will feed your comments back to the publisher so that the issues can be resolved."

Which simply won't happen.

ePenguins are not trying to drive us back to print media. By releasing a shoddy product now, they are leaving the way open to release a "remastered" edition of the e-book, rather like the Beatles Remastered, and re-re-remastered and so on - not happy with selling us a CD once, we apparently have to buy it four or five times. It'll be the same with ebooks. I think I'll sign up to the Folio Society. Those editions, at least, are permanent.