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Old 02-28-2008, 03:23 PM   #1
jswinden
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Angry Sloppy eBooks from major publisher

I just purchased Stephen Hawking's A Briefer History of Time in Mobipocket format from Mobipocket. My complaints are not directed toward Mobipocket, but against the publisher, Bantam Books. Although the book itself is well written and a pleasure to read, Bantam has done an incredibly sloppy job of formatting it.

They have overlooked countless typos, my favorite being "bv" rather than "by". This one has occurred several times in the first 25% of the book. Another often occurring typo is to separate the first letter of a word from the rest of the word by inserting a space. The most annoying sloppiness though is how they incorporated images into the text. Every image I've encountered, and there are many of them, are ackwardly inserted in the middle of a paragraph, and in the middle of a sentence! I had to pay the ridiculous price of US $20.95 for this eBook, twic what I could have bought the paperback for. You would think that Bantam would at least proof read the eBook version before releasing it and that they would hire technicians that can actually format eBooks. But apparently not.
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Old 02-28-2008, 03:34 PM   #2
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It sounds like Bantam scanned a copy and just tossed it online.
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Old 02-28-2008, 04:29 PM   #3
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Why do we need scanned eBooks of current books? The publishers should have a proper electronic version from which they make the pBooks and can then from there go to the eBook.
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Old 02-28-2008, 06:26 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by JSWolf View Post
Why do we need scanned eBooks of current books? The publishers should have a proper electronic version from which they make the pBooks and can then from there go to the eBook.
Yeah, you'd think with a book from 2005 they would have electronic copies on file. I know until recently they didn't keep electronic copies of books, don't know if back in '05 they were keeping copies or not.
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Old 02-28-2008, 06:39 PM   #5
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Yeah, you'd think with a book from 2005 they would have electronic copies on file. I know until recently they didn't keep electronic copies of books, don't know if back in '05 they were keeping copies or not.
They might not have been.

And declining production standards is endemic to the industry. I'm on a mailing list largely composed of people in publishing. There was a discussion on the list a while back between someone who worked for an editorial and production house that provided copy editing, proofreading, and typesetting services to publishers, and someone else who was an editor at a major publisher. The one working for the production house was unhappy about the decline in standards, and the increasing number of publishers who apparently couldn't be bothered to do things like copyedit and proofread before publishing books. The editor at the major publisher said "But those things are part of the production budget for the book, and are always done!" The response was "Maybe that's still true at your house, but it's increasingly less true elsewhere. I'm the one who gets to talk to folks who used to pay us to do this for them..."
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Old 02-28-2008, 06:44 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jswinden View Post
I just purchased Stephen Hawking's A Briefer History of Time in Mobipocket format from Mobipocket. My complaints are not directed toward Mobipocket, but against the publisher, Bantam Books. Although the book itself is well written and a pleasure to read, Bantam has done an incredibly sloppy job of formatting it.
I would drop them a note about it. An actual, printed letter, sent first class mail. I'd tell them I was unhappy, and why, and state that if they couldn't be bothered to do elementary copy editing and proofreading on an electronic book, I couldn't be bothered to buy anything they published, in any format, because I expected basic levels of quality for what they charged.

It might just stir the pot a bit.
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Old 02-28-2008, 06:44 PM   #7
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Jack, I think this is a common problem. I have several ebooks from Sony, for example, that are this way. My approach to date has been to (1) post a review of the ebook on Sony's website focussing on the ebook formatting issues which may be poor and keep that separate from a review of the content of the book, and (2) sending an email to both Sony and the publisher admonishing them for their poor quality control. If we don't keep pushing this stuff back in their faces (both the publisher and the vendor) I'm afraid it will continue. I have so far not requested my money back for bad ebooks but I've come close more than once.
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Old 02-28-2008, 06:45 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DMcCunney View Post
They might not have been.

And declining production standards is endemic to the industry. I'm on a mailing list largely composed of people in publishing. There was a discussion on the list a while back between someone who worked for an editorial and production house that provided copy editing, proofreading, and typesetting services to publishers, and someone else who was an editor at a major publisher. The one working for the production house was unhappy about the decline in standards, and the increasing number of publishers who apparently couldn't be bothered to do things like copyedit and proofread before publishing books. The editor at the major publisher said "But those things are part of the production budget for the book, and are always done!" The response was "Maybe that's still true at your house, but it's increasingly less true elsewhere. I'm the one who gets to talk to folks who used to pay us to do this for them..."
______
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I used to work as a copy-editor for a major international publisher of scientific journals. They moved a lot of their copy-editing to India, on the grounds that Indian graduates were cheaper to employ than European graduates. This was their response to one of their competitors who had decided that it was the scientists' own responsibility to make sure their English was good; if their paper was incomprehensible due to poor English, that was their own fault.
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Old 02-28-2008, 06:49 PM   #9
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Why do we need scanned eBooks of current books? The publishers should have a proper electronic version from which they make the pBooks and can then from there go to the eBook.
This has to do with the publishers and the layouters. Often the digital "raw" material is not even available to the publishers. They just get the finished product. Then you have several different digital versions since therer is no standard. Converting those is simply to expensive and its easier to scan and OCR the printed book.

If you do not even spellcheck it, well...
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Old 02-28-2008, 07:39 PM   #10
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Well, they can hire me to do the job. I'd be happy to be paid to make eBooks for a living.
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Old 02-28-2008, 07:54 PM   #11
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Well, they can hire me to do the job. I'd be happy to be paid to make eBooks for a living.
The fact they they don't want to pay people to do it is the problem. I suspect an automated conversion from a scan of a hardcopy.
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Old 02-28-2008, 09:30 PM   #12
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So what we need to do is every time there is a poor eBook then we need to tell the shop where it was purchased and also let the publisher know so it can be dealt with. The more we do this, the better. And asking for our money back might also help.
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Old 02-28-2008, 10:12 PM   #13
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The fact they they don't want to pay people to do it is the problem. I suspect an automated conversion from a scan of a hardcopy.
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Old 02-29-2008, 01:09 PM   #14
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Lot of good replies...

I worked as a Technical Writer for several major software companies including Computer Associates, IBM, and BMC Software. All of our documentation was kept in digital form. It is difficult to understand doing otherwise. One of the comments said that the publishing houses don't keep digital copies of printed books. If true, that seems stupid on the part of the publishers as it is easy to modify digital files, especially if you are going to make minor updates or release a new edition. It is hard for me to understand the concept of having to retype every book. I would be very surprised if they didn't keep digital copies.

I seem to see a definate set of patterns in this particular eBook which suggest to me that they are using some kind of tool to translate the content to Mobipocket format. I earlier mentioned that "by" is typically spelled "bv". I also noticed a lot of other cases where a "v" was used instead of a "y". Another glaring repetition is spelling "have" as "ha\e" with a backward slash! It does seem as one comment suggested that they might be using OCR to create the text for the file as it consistently screws up the same words.

I must say that I am disappointed that the publishing industry doesn't have a clue about publishing! XML along with content control software allows you to create content and then reuse it in an infinite number of formats. If they would take the time to create their system correctly, they could use one source to create printed versions as well as various eBook versions. It would require an IT department with publication experience, but it would save them a lot of time and money in the end.
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Old 03-21-2008, 05:46 AM   #15
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