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Old 03-25-2014, 03:37 AM   #1
EbookNovice
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Dangerously e-books: How do I know if my ebooks have been altered?

Hey all, I've been working to get rid of all of my physical books to the point where 90% of new books I buy are e-books so that I'm not harming the earth. However, one scary thought crept into my mind: What if the e-books I'm reading have been manipulated and their content is wrong? I find this extremely worrying to the point where I haven't been able to sleep.

An example of what I mean: I think I'm reading an e-book written by Arnold Schwarzenegger on weight training that promises to give the best results, but I'm actually reading an e-book that contains information that could harm me and is just an e-book written by someone wanting to be mischievous. Or an e-book written by Karl Marx about a criticism of socialism, when in fact a person has manipulated the e-book into a positive view on capitalism. I think I've received information from Karl Marx, but it's a completely altered e-book.

I know if I buy an e-book from Amazon it's most likely genuine, but the vast majority of the e-books I'm reading are from people who have just written their own e-books and released it online without a publisher at all. Many are free e-books. A lot of the e-books I'm reading now are educational so I want to know that what I'm reading is genuine.

A physical book is much harder for someone to make alterations it. It doesn't seem hard for someone to make alterations to an e-book and so the e-book is now 'tainted'.

Is there a way I can check that the e-books I'm reading are genuine?

How can I trust that an e-book hasn't been manipulated?

I'd appreciate any help to calm my mind!
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Old 03-25-2014, 03:49 AM   #2
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Step one is to use your critical thinking skills: I'm sure that you can tell a positive view on capitalism from a positive view on communism.

Mostly, though, I'd suggest that if this issue is truly causing you an ongoing lack of sleep and psychological distress, that's not good for you at all, and your problem will not be solved technologically, but with addressing whatever the underlying issues are and developing your coping skills accordingly. Those are for you to explore in meatspace with someone who can help.
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Old 03-25-2014, 04:05 AM   #3
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Assuming this is a serious question, even 'genuine' books on the kind of topics you mention can contain harmful/biased information.

Even Arnold's book might have advice that is not suitable for those of all fitness levels for example and I doubt that many political books contain the truth and nothing but the truth.

As meeera said, use your judgement.

Helen
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Old 03-25-2014, 04:31 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EbookNovice View Post
...

Is there a way I can check that the e-books I'm reading are genuine?

How can I trust that an e-book hasn't been manipulated?

I'd appreciate any help to calm my mind!
You can use Google Book search, Amazon or any other similar site for suspicious parts of the book.

Last edited by markom; 03-25-2014 at 04:36 AM.
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Old 03-25-2014, 08:05 AM   #5
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Also look at for reviews. If a books contains misinformation people usually notice and write about it.
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Old 03-25-2014, 09:33 AM   #6
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I'd just get some sleeping pills.
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Old 03-25-2014, 10:02 AM   #7
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While the original post seems rather overwrought, I think there are legitimate concerns that should be taken seriously. For example, public domain books are sometimes cleansed to make them politically correct according to current sensibilities. Anyone can take it upon himself or herself to "improve" a book and offer it for downloading.
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Old 03-25-2014, 10:24 AM   #8
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public domain books are sometimes cleansed to make them politically correct according to current sensibilities
Certainly true for children's books. If you read fairy tales as they were in the 1800s, they compare well with the goriest of modern horror stories. My suggestion is to simply stick with traditional publishers. I certainly didn't miss the hue and cry over the mistypes in the first LOTR ebook.
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Old 03-25-2014, 10:40 AM   #9
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The paranoia is strong in this one...
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Old 03-25-2014, 10:43 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Tarana View Post
Certainly true for children's books.
True for all sorts of books. Eg the 1847 English translation of "The Count of Monte Cristo" (which is still by far the most commonly-encountered English version) is heavily censored to remove language and scenes from the French original which would have been unacceptable to a Victorian British readership.

Translators take all sorts of liberties with books. The most commonly-found English translation of Jules Verne "Journey to the Centre of the Earth" bears only a passing resemblance to the original. The translator basically rewrote the book.
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Old 03-25-2014, 11:55 AM   #11
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Editions change:
PC rules, Government regulation (editorial censorship). Corrected of text errors, file corruption (new data errors )

How did you know if your paper edition was un-modified?

Just because it was PRINTED does not mean what you see was what the AUTHOR originally wrote.
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Old 03-25-2014, 11:58 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
Translators take all sorts of liberties with books. The most commonly-found English translation of Jules Verne "Journey to the Centre of the Earth" bears only a passing resemblance to the original. The translator basically rewrote the book.
Ron Miller decided to do something about it and went back to the original:

http://www.baenebooks.com/p-2056-a-j...the-earth.aspx
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Old 03-25-2014, 12:18 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by theducks View Post
Editions change:
PC rules, Government regulation (editorial censorship). Corrected of text errors, file corruption (new data errors )

How did you know if your paper edition was un-modified?

Just because it was PRINTED does not mean what you see was what the AUTHOR originally wrote.
There is less chance for mischief with a printed edition.
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Old 03-25-2014, 01:42 PM   #14
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There is less chance for mischief with a printed edition.
How could a reputable ebook publisher "mess with" an ebook? They'd have to unpack the book, edit it, re-pack it, and put it out for distribution. Why would they bother? If you get a "messed with" book from an author's website or something, then that's the author's fault for not maintaining security on his website. How could you tell if the book was "messed with", anyway? What you consider to be fallacious reasoning, etc. might be just the author's opinion.
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Old 03-25-2014, 01:48 PM   #15
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It is unlikely that your book would be updated with a sanitized version. Some authors do push updated version of their books, but that's to fix mistakes. It is, I suppose possible that an author or their heirs could rewrite a book to sanitize it, but we'd hear about that. Imagine George Orwell's estate decided to update 1984 to have a positive portrayal of Big Brother. They control the copyright, they could cease selling the original and only offer the sanitized version. They could also have it pushed as an update, but there would be a firestorm of controversy.
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