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Old 01-16-2013, 07:58 AM   #1
HarryT
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Reply from SFGateway about book quality

I mentioned a few days ago that I'd bought Harry Harrison's "Skyfall" (a book published by SF Gateway) and been very disappointed with the quality, and that I'd written to the publisher. I've received a very detailed reply from them this morning, which gives me hope for the future. Part of that reply I've quoted below:

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Thank you for bringing this to our attention - and apologies for the poor state of the book. You're quite right to expect better; we expect better of ourselves, too.

After the launch of SF Gateway and the frantic burst of activity that produced 1,000 eBooks in a year, from a standing start, we realised that a few of our titles had problems. Our conversion house had promised us a 99.995% level of accuracy, but it became apparent that, while the majority of titles were fine, there was a small but unsatisfactory number for which that level of accuracy was not reached.

We spent the better part of last year pushing our conversion house to live up to their promise (resulting in them instituting vastly improved processes) and also put on place a more robust quality control procedure in-house. Alongside our new release publishing, we have been going over files produced under the previous systems and repairing them when necessary. We had, in fact, re-checked more than half of our Harry Harrison titles, but obviously Skyfall was one we hadn't got to.

We've now looked over the book and we're very disappointed with the quality. We have withdrawn the title from sale and will be having the file re-proofed, repaired and redistributed to the retailers. Amazon should let you know when the corrected version is available and you'll be able to download it free of charge as an update. This process shouldn't take more than a few weeks.

You have our unreserved apology for the state of this file. It's not indicative of the overall quality of our eBooks and we hope that it won't put you off continuing to explore our titles.
It's good to see a publisher putting processes in place to correct such issues.
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Old 01-16-2013, 08:09 AM   #2
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I mentioned a few days ago that I'd bought Harry Harrison's "Skyfall" (a book published by SF Gateway) and been very disappointed with the quality, and that I'd written to the publisher. I've received a very detailed reply from them this morning, which gives me hope for the future. Part of that reply I've quoted below:



It's good to see a publisher putting processes in place to correct such issues.
Thanks for sharing this, Harry.
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Old 01-16-2013, 10:20 AM   #3
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It is great seeing a publisher who will not only admit mistakes but tale steps to rectify them. Other Publishing Houses should take note and institute similar practices. They might just find sales increasing.
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Old 01-16-2013, 12:41 PM   #4
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Of course, even 99.995% accuracy is still one OCR error every 20,000 characters or so, or 1 every 4,000 words, or 20 in a small novel, and 40 in a long one.
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Old 01-16-2013, 12:46 PM   #5
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Of course, even 99.995% accuracy is still one OCR error every 20,000 characters or so, or 1 every 4,000 words, or 20 in a small novel, and 40 in a long one.
True, but in fairness there has to be a reasonable balance between accuracy and price. SF Gateway are making out-of-print works, which are not available in electronic form, available at sensible prices (mostly £2.99 or £4.99), so to expect perfection is perhaps unrealistic. I have no particular issue with an error every 4000 words at those prices. It's when there are errors on every page, as with "Skyfall", that I'm moved to write to the publisher to express my displeasure.
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Old 01-16-2013, 01:04 PM   #6
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True, but in fairness there has to be a reasonable balance between accuracy and price. SF Gateway are making out-of-print works, which are not available in electronic form, available at sensible prices (mostly £2.99 or £4.99), so to expect perfection is perhaps unrealistic. I have no particular issue with an error every 4000 words at those prices. It's when there are errors on every page, as with "Skyfall", that I'm moved to write to the publisher to express my displeasure.
I certainly don't blame you HarryT. I'd have been upset if I had bought a copy of the book in question and found it to be riddled with errors as well. At least the publisher is willing to own up to the problem and fix it.
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Old 01-16-2013, 05:05 PM   #7
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I had the same problem with a Stainless Steel Rat title last year. They pulled it from sale and fixed it but, from memory, it took about 6 months! I hope they have improved their speed since then. However, still promising that they responded to my complaint and did eventually get it right.
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Old 01-16-2013, 11:27 PM   #8
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Good to see that. I bought a few Gateway books before Christmas. The only one I have read yet is "In the Ocean of the Night" by Gregory Benford and was horrified by all the errors. I kept notes on the problems and planned to fix them, but I haven't been able to find my paperback copy. Maybe I'll wait. Or maybe I should send them the fixed copy.
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Old 01-17-2013, 02:38 AM   #9
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I have way too many books from them, and I've read five or so. Only one was really bad (Way Station by Clifford Simak) and I reported that back to them. They seemed to think they had already fixed it but for some reason I didn't get the updated version from Kobo. I have no idea if that's true. I tried grabbing the kindle sample, but the first really mangled sentence is just after the end. I did manage to read the book, and I haven't checked it again recently.

If it's not cost-effective to proof all these books properly, I think I'd still rather have them available than not, but it would be way better if they could be crowd-proofed.
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Old 01-17-2013, 11:31 AM   #10
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They seemed to think they had already fixed it but for some reason I didn't get the updated version from Kobo. I have no idea if that's true.
Don't know if it's true either, but when a publisher updates a book with Kobo they aren't automatically updated for past purchasers in my experience.
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Old 01-17-2013, 07:32 PM   #11
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Don't know if it's true either, but when a publisher updates a book with Kobo they aren't automatically updated for past purchasers in my experience.
I suspect that if Kobo update the kepub version, it will only get sent to your device if you do something that triggers this. Such as reset the device and then redownloading all books. Or you can delete it on the device, and then go to the web site and bookmark it. That will trigger a download the next time you do a sync.
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Old 01-17-2013, 08:44 PM   #12
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I suspect that if Kobo update the kepub version, it will only get sent to your device if you do something that triggers this. Such as reset the device and then redownloading all books. Or you can delete it on the device, and then go to the web site and bookmark it. That will trigger a download the next time you do a sync.
I'm talking about the ADE Download.
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Old 01-17-2013, 09:30 PM   #13
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I'm talking about the ADE Download.
If you know it has been updated, what version do you get when if you download it again?

But, an email would be nice.
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Old 01-17-2013, 09:50 PM   #14
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If you know it has been updated, what version do you get when if you download it again?

But, an email would be nice.
I went through this with them on six or seven books a year ago. The publisher sent them updated files, but I kept getting the same books with errors I had originally gotten. It wasn't until many conversations with CS that I found out they had to push the updates to my account before my downloads would change to the updated files.
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Old 01-17-2013, 10:18 PM   #15
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I went through this with them on six or seven books a year ago. The publisher sent them updated files, but I kept getting the same books with errors I had originally gotten. It wasn't until many conversations with CS that I found out they had to push the updates to my account before my downloads would change to the updated files.
OK. I can sort of see why they might do it that way, but I think I would prefer if it was automatically given to me.
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