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Old 08-28-2012, 10:55 AM   #1
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What Price Quality?

There have been quite a few threads touting and condemning Delphi Classics (http://delphiclassics.com/shop/) , an online publisher of "Complete" editions of PD authors - notable for their inclusiveness and their low pricing (typically $2 - $4 per volume). On the one hand, the volumes contain a tremendous amount of material - in addition to the author's works, they contain illustrations, contemporary reviews, biographies, etc. On the other hand, they are not perfect - they do contain scanning/OCR errors and format irregularities - that can be quite annoying whilst reading.

But - if you are irritated enough, or care enough about quality, Delphi welcomes error reports and issues free updates with corrected texts. Some members applaud this, while others condemn it as selling a knowingly defective book and expecting readers to do the work for them.

Well, compare this with Library of America, which has recently launched a couple of ebook editions. They state:

Quote:
The Library of America’s goal is to insure that its e-books are as authoritative and reliable as the print versions. To insure quality control, the entire text of each title will receive at least one round (and often several rounds) of additional proofreading to catch any formatting and typographic glitches that are unique to the e-book conversion process.
Wonderful you say! This is exactly what a publisher of ebooks should be doing!

But - look at what they are charging for these ebooks: $17.99 for one volume of Ambrose Bierce! (http://www.amazon.com/Ambrose-Bierce...libraryofamerA)
Other volumes are priced $15 - $20/each - for individual volumes of a multi-part edition.

How much are you willing to pay for proofread editions of ebooks? Are clean editions of PD authors worth $20? $2?

FWIW - I greatly admire LoA's print editions (despite the eye-numbing small font sizes) - but I cannot see myself shelling out well over $100 to acquire the complete set of works by Henry James. I paid $2.99 for the Delphi edition, and have brought errors to their attention - which have been (and will be) cheerfully corrected in their free updates.
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Old 08-28-2012, 11:02 AM   #2
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The nice thing about the out-of-copyright classics is that we CAN all contribute to producing properly-proofed versions for other people to enjoy, as people do here at MR. But the amount of effort shouldn't be underestimated. I typically spent 1-1.5h a day proof-reading the ebooks I create, and can do about 20 books a year that way. If more people were to get involved in the creation of properly-proofed books, there'd be a lot more around. I'd encourage everyone to get involved in such activities. Everybody benefits (and it's fun to do ).

So no, I've no inherent problem with this. If you're doing this stuff commercially, and it's a specialist market, the price has to reflect the amount of effort involved.

Last edited by HarryT; 08-28-2012 at 11:21 AM.
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Old 08-28-2012, 01:02 PM   #3
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Do they really say:

Quote:
is to insure that
Shouldn't that be ensure? I don't know that I trust their proof reading...
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Old 08-28-2012, 01:09 PM   #4
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If people are willing to pay that price for a book which has had the OCR errors fixed, then it is worthwhile to them. Other people will take the cheaper book, and put up with the OCR errors. I see nothing inherently worthy of praise of condemnation either way. Some people can tolerare occasional OCR errors, some can't. If you can tolerate the errors, the cheap or free PD book might be right for you. If you can't, the more expensive book might be right.
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Old 08-28-2012, 02:23 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poohbear_nc View Post
But - look at what they are charging for these ebooks: $17.99 for one volume of Ambrose Bierce! (http://www.amazon.com/Ambrose-Bierce...libraryofamerA)
Other volumes are priced $15 - $20/each - for individual volumes of a multi-part edition.

How much are you willing to pay for proofread editions of ebooks? Are clean editions of PD authors worth $20? $2?
Yeah, given that Dover Press was able to profitably produce proofread (and in many cases fully annotated and illustrated) paperback books of PD classics (some not so classic and very niche, such as a book of US Civil War poetry) for $1, $2, and (more rarely) $3 (with the VERY occasional $5, I think), there is no excuse for such prices. ("The Devil's Dictionary" was a $1 product, BTW, and the Dover edition is indeed sitting on my shelf)

Last edited by JD Gumby; 08-28-2012 at 02:26 PM.
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Old 08-28-2012, 02:53 PM   #6
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It's the number of errors and the types that determine whether or not I'll read. I've seen errors in many hard back books, and I've yet to read an ebook that did not contain an error or three.
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Old 08-28-2012, 09:04 PM   #7
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In a public domain book if the errors are minor I will put up with quite a few of them if I want to read the book. As a child a lot of books I had access to were scribbled on or missing pages so nothing new there.


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Old 08-29-2012, 07:01 AM   #8
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Well I had an issue with formatting in one of the Delphi Classics books, emailed them and they checked it, fixed it, updated it all the same day and I was able to download the revised edition. I was very impressed with their responsiveness.
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Old 08-29-2012, 07:57 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JD Gumby View Post
Yeah, given that Dover Press was able to profitably produce proofread (and in many cases fully annotated and illustrated) paperback books of PD classics (some not so classic and very niche, such as a book of US Civil War poetry) for $1, $2, and (more rarely) $3 (with the VERY occasional $5, I think), there is no excuse for such prices. ("The Devil's Dictionary" was a $1 product, BTW, and the Dover edition is indeed sitting on my shelf)
Dover indeed produced some very fine quality inexpensive paperback editions. Ebook versions of Dover editions have appeared - but all that I have investigated have lacked active TOC.
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Old 08-29-2012, 09:19 AM   #10
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A proofreading issue here and there is easy to overlook. If there are a lot, it starts to drive me crazy. Still, I don't think I'd pay an extra $18 for it.
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Old 08-29-2012, 12:18 PM   #11
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Don't know if 18 Dollar is a "correct" price but I think we are all spoilt because we can exploit the hard labour of the generous enthusiasts of Project Gutenberg and others such groups without paying a single dime. For me, public domain doesn't neccessarily mean that a book has to be free of charge. There is enough work involved that one could ask to be paid for. But I guess this market is killed just because of PG and so on.
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Old 08-29-2012, 05:23 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JD Gumby View Post
Yeah, given that Dover Press was able to profitably produce proofread (and in many cases fully annotated and illustrated) paperback books of PD classics (some not so classic and very niche, such as a book of US Civil War poetry) for $1, $2, and (more rarely) $3 (with the VERY occasional $5, I think), there is no excuse for such prices. ("The Devil's Dictionary" was a $1 product, BTW, and the Dover edition is indeed sitting on my shelf)
I was under the impression that Dover would photograph the original books and produce plates from that. No proofreading required. At least that's what they did for their scientific books with lots of equations and figures.
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Old 08-29-2012, 07:54 PM   #13
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Do they really say:



Shouldn't that be ensure? I don't know that I trust their proof reading...
No. Insure and ensure are synonyms in most contexts (see M-W Concise Dict. English Usage), although there are some commenters (mostly British) who would limit "insure" to financial matters and use "ensure" for general matters.
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Old 08-30-2012, 12:01 PM   #14
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No. Insure and ensure are synonyms in most contexts (see M-W Concise Dict. English Usage), although there are some commenters (mostly British) who would limit "insure" to financial matters and use "ensure" for general matters.
You are correct that Merriam Webster lists it as a synonym. Maybe I need to update my understanding, like I had to do with double spaces after a period in the past decade.

I'm curious how the OED would define this, as the American Heritage Dictionary has this usage note:

Quote:
Assure, ensure, and insure all mean "to make secure or certain." Only assure is used with reference to a person in the sense of "to set the mind at rest": The ambassador assured the prime minister of his loyalty. Although ensure and insure are generally interchangeable, only insure is now widely used in American English in the commercial sense of "to guarantee persons or property against risk."
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Old 08-30-2012, 12:13 PM   #15
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"Insure" is only ever (to the best of my knowledge) used in the financial sense in British English, with "ensure" being used in other contexts.

Eg, "to ensure that he didn't lose money, he insured his holiday".
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