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Old 06-29-2009, 07:55 PM   #1
aquina
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Quality of Library Ebooks

I have been using the Boston Public Library to check out Ebooks which I have been reading on my laptop in PDF and EPub formats and on my Blackberry in Mobi format.

Let me say that I am very grateful to have access to this service but I have to say that the quality of the books is lacking. Not the selection, which is actually pretty good but the quality of the files. Most books don't have a front cover or a generic cover rather than the proper picture cover. Meta information is often missing, sometimes not even listing the author.

I know that this can be fixed with Calibre but for library books it is not worth it for me. Is this just a reflection of a lower grade quality Ebook the library is purchasing or is this true for Ebooks purchased at Ebook stores as well? Frankly I would be a bit upset if I would pay $10 for an Ebook that I would have to fix up after purchase.
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Old 06-29-2009, 07:58 PM   #2
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The missing cover is usually an issue of a separate copyright for the cover art/design. I think it shows that the publishers aren't really invested in eBooks when they choose not to use *some* kind of cover as a replacement and when the metadata is missing or incorrect. I also think that a TOC is mandatory, but doesn't show up in many of the commercially produced books.
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Old 06-29-2009, 09:05 PM   #3
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So far as I know, each lending library ebook is identical to the corresponding commercially available ebook.

Some ebooks come with a front cover illustration, but as you say many don't. A good example is Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert. When you look at this ebook in the store (e.g. Kindle Store or FictionWise) it shows up with a thumbnail of the standard paperback cover, but the ebook itself has a text-based cover page (probably a scan of the print version's title page). Since the thumbnail is what sells ebooks, the cover is judged to be unnecessary by some publishers.
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Old 06-29-2009, 11:42 PM   #4
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I've been using the San Francisco PL to get books for my Sony, and I have found the quality of the books to be outstanding.
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Old 06-30-2009, 02:13 AM   #5
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That's interesting, I'm using San Francisco PL too, and the quality is great. Which books in particular have poor quality?

Maybe they are just cheap copies from the publisher or ebook versions released early on and of poor quality?
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Old 06-30-2009, 02:24 AM   #6
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The OP is using the Boston PL.

I agree that SFPL has great quality e-books.
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Old 06-30-2009, 07:05 AM   #7
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It is not the quality of the text that I find surprising but the careless "packaging". For example Tigerheart by Peter David comes with no Table of Contents and author unknown in the meta data. And about half of the books are missing the cover or have a generic cover. If this is representative of the current state of Ebooks it seems that publishers are not yet fully embracing this form of distribution. Hopefully this will change with the surge of EBook readers.

And don't get me wrong: I think it is wonderful to have access to Ebooks via my library and I am sure that things will only get better.
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Old 06-30-2009, 07:20 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aquina View Post
I have been using the Boston Public Library to check out Ebooks which I have been reading on my laptop in PDF and EPub formats and on my Blackberry in Mobi format.

Let me say that I am very grateful to have access to this service but I have to say that the quality of the books is lacking. Not the selection, which is actually pretty good but the quality of the files. Most books don't have a front cover or a generic cover rather than the proper picture cover. Meta information is often missing, sometimes not even listing the author.

I know that this can be fixed with Calibre but for library books it is not worth it for me. Is this just a reflection of a lower grade quality Ebook the library is purchasing or is this true for Ebooks purchased at Ebook stores as well? Frankly I would be a bit upset if I would pay $10 for an Ebook that I would have to fix up after purchase.
Missing Cover Pages and Meta information is a subject of Copyright Issues. Commercially selling sites cannot ignore copyright issues unless they give it on charity. But the quality of an eBook can only be judged by the navigational control on book like the TOC, Index, Bookmarks, image Quality etc. I hope i understand your problem.
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Old 06-30-2009, 07:31 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aquina View Post
I have been using the Boston Public Library to check out Ebooks which I have been reading on my laptop in PDF and EPub formats and on my Blackberry in Mobi format.

Let me say that I am very grateful to have access to this service but I have to say that the quality of the books is lacking. Not the selection, which is actually pretty good but the quality of the files. Most books don't have a front cover or a generic cover rather than the proper picture cover. Meta information is often missing, sometimes not even listing the author.

I know that this can be fixed with Calibre but for library books it is not worth it for me. Is this just a reflection of a lower grade quality Ebook the library is purchasing or is this true for Ebooks purchased at Ebook stores as well? Frankly I would be a bit upset if I would pay $10 for an Ebook that I would have to fix up after purchase.
You wouldn't believe the horrible quality, you sometimes receive.
I've bought all the major formats:
.prc, .lit, .azw, .lrx, .epub, .pdf
My gut feeling says, .lit is the most carefully prepared one, then .azw. But I didn't take any statistics....

In every format, I've seen the very same inconsistencies.
Just an example:
I've bought 2 official bundles of ebooks.
One for Sony and one for Mobipocket readers.
Within each bundle, for the very same author, both didn't stick to the naming convention.
It was "James Patterson", "Patterson, James" or even "PATTERSON, JAMES".
When sorting by author, this can be EXTREMELY annoying.
And that's from the very same distributor within an official bundle of books.
You can imagine, what happens, if you switch between distributors.
In one case, I even had "Jeffrey Deaver". The guy's name is JEFFERY!
Sometimes I really have to say: Downloading from torrents might lead to better results.

In one case, I've asked for returning my money, because the naming convention wasn't acceptable to me.
After 2 emails, I've actually got it back!

This should be done more often. Maybe then the distributors wouldn't outsource to cheap labour (*) (had similar occurences with Apple TV. The guy's name is Schwarzenegger, not SchwarTzenegger!) but care more about quality....

(*) "cheap labour" is my only explanation. Would it be actual bookstore clerks or any other kind of specialists preparing the ebooks, such things simply couldn't happen.

Last edited by mgmueller; 06-30-2009 at 07:33 AM.
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Old 06-30-2009, 10:43 AM   #10
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oh my word - it wasn't from the library but I bought a James Patterson 6 book bundle yesterday at Diesel and had the same problem. 3 of the books were formatted correctly - when you increased text size, it filled the screen and broke the line endings correctly. The other three, when you did this, it broke words in the middle and everything, plus the starting font was smaller to begin with, it was more like the issues with pdfs (lots of white space around the text). The others (all were epub) had been trimmed correctly as well, which really helps. The author metadata was on 4 and the others show 'Company Name'. They are DRM'd so I can't change the metadata.
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Old 06-30-2009, 11:33 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by suecsi View Post
oh my word - it wasn't from the library but I bought a James Patterson 6 book bundle yesterday at Diesel and had the same problem. 3 of the books were formatted correctly - when you increased text size, it filled the screen and broke the line endings correctly. The other three, when you did this, it broke words in the middle and everything, plus the starting font was smaller to begin with, it was more like the issues with pdfs (lots of white space around the text). The others (all were epub) had been trimmed correctly as well, which really helps. The author metadata was on 4 and the others show 'Company Name'. They are DRM'd so I can't change the metadata.
I hope you've emalied them and let them know about this. They need to know their sales will tank if people can't read the books properly. This is someething you might expect from illegal copies, but not when you are paying for them.
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