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Old 05-05-2009, 05:52 PM   #1
jswinden
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An example of an eBook with terrible formatting

I've attached a screenshot from a all-to-typical page from an eBook I just purchased through Amazon. The book is: A New English Translation of the Septuagint. I find such formatting to be totally unacceptable. Notice how the columns are smashed together and how half of the bottom line is missing.

I have bought a lot of eBooks for the Kindle 2 and the Sony PRS-505, and almost every one of them have stupid formatting errors. Common errors include those caused by using OCR software and then not proofreading. Another common error is sentences that are split in the middle so that a new paragraph begins in the middle of the sentence. Since we have to pay nearly as much for eBooks as for printed books, and sometimes more, the publishers should darn well proofread their eBooks before placing them for sale.

BTW: I wrote a scathing email to Amazon demanding a refund for this eBook. I can overlook most annoying format issues, but not when the text is this unreadable.
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Last edited by jswinden; 05-05-2009 at 05:56 PM.
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Old 05-05-2009, 05:55 PM   #2
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oh wow! I've had some with some bad formatting but not THAT bad!
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Old 05-05-2009, 05:56 PM   #3
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Jeez - that really is terrible - totally unreadable.

I assume that you will be returning this as unfit for purpose? Please let us know how that works out.
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Old 05-05-2009, 06:05 PM   #4
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Wow. I've seen bad conversions, but- wow.
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Old 05-05-2009, 07:26 PM   #5
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Is it like this throughout the book? I downloaded the sample from Amazon, and didn't see anything this egregious. The screenshot looks like it's a table; text is running in two columns with no space between the columns. I almost wonder if it's a real bug in the Kindle (or in the creation of the Mobi file).

Very odd and disturbing, indeed...

Dave
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Old 05-06-2009, 01:42 PM   #6
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It is a large book, so I've only spot checked it so far. Most of the text is in a single column format and is okay. A few places that I have seen use two columns in an attempt to present alternate readings of the text; that is, two versions translated from different Greek manuscripts. In every case where two columns appear (at least that I've seen so far) the formatting looks terrible just like the screenshot I attached in the first posting.

I'm not surprised that two columns come out in bad formatting as the Kindle uses a small subset of HTML tags and CSS, and it is a well published fact that they do not support HTML tables. So knowing that, the publisher should have avoided table columns altogether. I've got all 10 volumes of the Ante-Nicene Fathers in Kindle format and their publisher chose to place alternative translations one above the other. It is a bit more difficult to compare the two translations that way, but the text is very readable with no formatting issues.

If Amazon would update their firmware to support HTML tables then it might be possible to use two columns of text. However, it would still be tricky (kluge) because the larger font sizes would look bad in side by side columns. Creating an image of the text in two columns would also be bad as the Kindle makes sharp images blurry, whereas they appear sharp on the Sony PRS-505, because Amazon insists on changing the image sizes during conversions. Bottom line is that publishers should stay away from multiple columns of text for the Kindle 1 and 2. Perhaps the Kindle DX will be better at multiple columns, but that remains to be seen.

BTW: I definately lodged a complaint with Amazon concerning this eBook. They responded by having me submit a list of specific locations and problems. I will post any information I get from them. The eBook only cost $9.99, so if I lose that no big deal. But I'm concerned that I might pay $40+ for an eBook that has unreadable text. So on principle I wanted to see if I could get a refund.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dauwhe View Post
Is it like this throughout the book? I downloaded the sample from Amazon, and didn't see anything this egregious. The screenshot looks like it's a table; text is running in two columns with no space between the columns. I almost wonder if it's a real bug in the Kindle (or in the creation of the Mobi file).

Very odd and disturbing, indeed...

Dave

Last edited by jswinden; 05-06-2009 at 01:45 PM.
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Old 05-07-2009, 08:33 PM   #7
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i have found Amazon to be very understanding about formatting issues. I recently complained about a poorly formatted book (not as bad as the OP's though!). They immediately offered me a refund on the book, but I still wanted to keep the book. They let me keep it and gave me a credit towards future books while they contact the publisher to reformat my original purchase. They didn't have to do that, so I was very pleased.
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Old 05-07-2009, 09:00 PM   #8
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ACK! My eyes!!
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Old 05-07-2009, 09:14 PM   #9
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Yeap that is headache inducing! Did you receive an email back from them yet? I'd be interested in reading their excuses.
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Old 05-07-2009, 10:03 PM   #10
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This actually belongs in http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=45493
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Old 05-08-2009, 06:44 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fugazied View Post
Yeap that is headache inducing! Did you receive an email back from them yet? I'd be interested in reading their excuses.
It has been a few days now since I sent them the specifics on the formatting errors, but I haven't heard a word back.

About the same time I contacted them about my Kindle2 not holding a battery charge and Whispernet problems--I live in the middle of a large metroplex with good Sprint coverage but my Whispernet rarely shows more than 1 bar and rarely more than 1X. Some books take 30+ minutes to download and in the process drain the battery almost all the way down. So I have been downloading books to my computer and using a USB connection rather than Whispernet. They quickly emailed me back and asked me to call them, which I did. They are sending me a replacement Kindle2. I hope that fixes those issues. Other than those issues, I really like my Kindle2. I do wish they would use a few additional fonts so that we have a choice. I got spoiled using eReader, MobiPocket, and others on a PDA--all of which let you select from a few different fonts.
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