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Old 02-22-2012, 11:11 AM   #1
avantman42
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Errors due to format conversion - publisher's responsibility?

I've seen instances recently of publishers blaming errors in e-books on the conversion process (whatever source file to ePub/Mobi, not OCR errors)

I recently complained about errors, and when the possibility of conversion errors was mentioned, I was told that "the conversion process sometimes introduces errors and if that is the case in this instance then there isn’t much I can do other than alert Amazon."

I get frustrated by the implication that the publisher can't be held to account if errors are introduced during the conversion process. Surely it's the publisher's responsibility to ensure that the file they sell isn't full of errors?
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Old 02-22-2012, 12:47 PM   #2
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Yes, it is. After conversion of a file from OCR, you still have to proofread it. OCR isn't perfect.
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Old 02-22-2012, 12:53 PM   #3
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Absolutely it's the publishers ultimate responsibility. If the conversion process is introducing errors then they need to make sure they proofread those versions separately until they can work out what's causing the errors. I've converted a lot of books for my own use and it's been very rare that there were errors in the converted version that were not in the original format as well.
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Old 02-22-2012, 01:04 PM   #4
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It's absolutely the publisher's responsibility. Regardless if that publisher is also the author or a completely separate entity/individual in New York or the very next room.

But I would also think a wise author should at least take a gander at every single edition of those products that his/her name is being slapped on (be it print, epub or mobi), and bring appropriate pressure to bear if something is wrong. I think too many authors are just assuming that the ebooks will be done "right." Assuming of course, that the author is still above ground.
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Old 02-22-2012, 01:22 PM   #5
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Between the landslide of new authors, some of whom can barely write a sentence, and the technical complexity of creating books that render well on all platforms, quality does suffer. What can fix it? Better tools can help maybe...
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Old 02-22-2012, 01:37 PM   #6
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The low-tech solution is to have a human read the book in each of the formats the publisher produces. Self-published books can be a crapshoot, but if the publishers want to maintain an appearance of better quality, they should put a little more care into making sure what goes out the door is what they intended.
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Old 02-22-2012, 04:33 PM   #7
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Do converters work as well as they should?

Are errors always a result of author/publisher mistakes, or is conversion sometimes the problem. What converter tools are the most trusted - for MOBI and for EPUB?
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Old 02-22-2012, 04:48 PM   #8
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I wrote my book in Sigil for a clean ePUB. But it's annoying to me that only B&N will take it. Amazon's conversion tool is not very good if you have PNG images (the transparent parts go black), and while Calibre met my needs picture-wise, there's simply no way (that I could find) to tweak the final output manually. Frustrating!

I'm paying 52 Novels (JA Konrath's formatter) to take my ePUB and get me a word doc that I can upload to Smashwords because I want a "perfect" conversion (i.e., I want the Smashwords ePUB to match my initial PUB exactly), but even 52 Novels can't promise me that -- they can just promise close enough.

52 Novels is also doing my CreateSpace word doc because they have their OWN conversion process. At least in the case of CreateSpace, since it's a physical book, that makes a modicum of sense. *sigh*

Feedbooks actually expects you to write your novel (or copy and paste it) into their web browser directly. No. Just... no.
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Old 02-22-2012, 05:24 PM   #9
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The obvious answer to the question asked is yes. Whoever puts the e-book out to the market place, publishes it, is responsible for the quality of that e-book. This is no different than for a paper book, or any other product. Now as far as e-books go specifically there is no excuse for putting out a book with misspelling, grammatical errors, punctuation errors (unless any of these were the author's intent), nor with missing or misplaced passages of text. I can be a bit more forgiving of errors of formatting related to appearance given different e-book file types existing. Still it is still the case that whoever publishes the book is responsible for the quality of the product. Large publishing companies should do proofing of books that they put out as should authors that self publish.
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Old 02-22-2012, 06:24 PM   #10
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Publisher is responsible. No arguments, no let-outs, no weasel words. Doesn't matter if the formatting error is garbled lines of metal type, quill-wielding scribe with a brainstorm, or garbled OCR output. It's the publisher's job to ensure the product is fit for purpose, whether the publisher is mega-PubCo or self-publishing Fred Smith.

I always inform the bookstore and the publisher when I encounter significant errors in commercial ebooks - probably doesn't do any good, but you never know...
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Old 02-22-2012, 09:23 PM   #11
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Best way to deal with this problem is return it, not giving money to the publishers is the only way to get them to listen.

When you accept it, you get what you get.
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Old 02-22-2012, 10:35 PM   #12
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Depends on who the retailer is.

Sometimes, in the case of OCR conversion, it's the publisher's fault.

Sometimes, as a publisher, even when you've done everything right, it's erroneous because of conversion from the retailer. That's why a lot don't like Smashwords--the "meatgrinder" conversion it does could lead to conversion errors.

And sometimes, the retailer doesn't give you tools to test the output. Amazon, for example, in this case: http://blog.ksaugustin.com/2011/10/0...e-third-world/
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Old 02-22-2012, 11:17 PM   #13
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A lot of eBooks start out as PDF. So yes, the conversion process can and does introduce errors.
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Old 02-23-2012, 03:24 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hamlet53 View Post
The obvious answer to the question asked is yes. Whoever puts the e-book out to the market place, publishes it, is responsible for the quality of that e-book. This is no different than for a paper book, or any other product. Now as far as e-books go specifically there is no excuse for putting out a book with misspelling, grammatical errors, punctuation errors (unless any of these were the author's intent), nor with missing or misplaced passages of text. I can be a bit more forgiving of errors of formatting related to appearance given different e-book file types existing. Still it is still the case that whoever publishes the book is responsible for the quality of the product. Large publishing companies should do proofing of books that they put out as should authors that self publish.
I thought that was the obvious answer, but apparently some publishers don't agree. This thread was prompted by an e-mail exchange after I complained to a publisher about errors in their e-book. The person I dealt with was generally very helpful and professional, but I was rather annoyed when she said that they couldn't do anything about conversion errors. I still don't understand why a publisher doesn't consider it their duty to ensure that the final output is in a reasonable state.

Quote:
Originally Posted by flipreads View Post
Sometimes, as a publisher, even when you've done everything right, it's erroneous because of conversion from the retailer. That's why a lot don't like Smashwords--the "meatgrinder" conversion it does could lead to conversion errors.
In cases like that, I'd say the publisher has several options:

1. Tweak the input file until it works (I've had to re-submit some books for Smashwords several times before Meatgrinder converted them correctly)
2. Decide not to sell with that particular retailer
3. Explain in the product description that there are errors that were introduced by the conversion process. Optionally, set a lower price at that retailer. At least this way, the buyer knows about the issues and can make an informed decision whether or not to buy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by flipreads View Post
And sometimes, the retailer doesn't give you tools to test the output. Amazon, for example, in this case: http://blog.ksaugustin.com/2011/10/0...e-third-world/
I have to admit I had no idea about situations like the one faced by the person you've linked to. Obviously, in cases like that, the publisher does have a perfectly reasonable reason for not checking the output.
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Old 02-23-2012, 03:25 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSWolf View Post
A lot of eBooks start out as PDF. So yes, the conversion process can and does introduce errors.
Of course it can. That wasn't the question. The question was:

Quote:
Originally Posted by avantman42 View Post
Surely it's the publisher's responsibility to ensure that the file they sell isn't full of errors?
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