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Old 01-29-2010, 12:30 PM   #1
delcimai
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typos or mistakes in ebooks

I have bought 4 new e-books from various places, including two from the sony store. All of them have had typos or mistakes, way more than any print book I have read. One of the books had every other page missing! Why is that? These were all new releases, so I would think that it would be easy to format the ebook along with the print version. It is very annoying and makes me a little disenchanted with ebooks... (I still like my reader though) Has anyone else had this problem?
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Old 01-29-2010, 12:35 PM   #2
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I have it all the time. What happens is for some reason publishers create the ebook from an earlier draft of the book rather than the final version, in the case of new books. I just read a kindle book (topaz format) that was particularly bad, but that one I think was a scanned version.
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Old 01-29-2010, 12:54 PM   #3
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A lot don't even seem to be proof read.

The lrx version on my reader, of this example, shows a very nice drop cap W, which I can't show you because I can't screen print from my reader.

On the reader library software, the W is just shown as a larger and bolder letter and the ePub version shows the same on the reader and the reader library as -- see for yourself.
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Old 01-29-2010, 01:38 PM   #4
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Errors are increasing in pbooks as well. Publishers are simply cutting editorial expenses. I have discussed this several times (as well as what an editor's role is) in my American Editor blog. I'm not sure what to advise. The problem is that the consumer doesn't find out how bad a book's quality is until after they have purchased it. Then it's too late; very few consumers will return a pbook for any reason once purchased and policies prohibit ebook returns.

It seems to me that if poor quality can be demonstrated, an ebook should be returnable. But like most thinks in publishing the model is askew.
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Old 01-29-2010, 01:53 PM   #5
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In the 10 years I have been reading ebooks, it has always been this way. Way too many errors. It still amazes me the lack of quality control most publishers have on their product. And it's really all publishers, can't jump on just a few....... some may be better than others, but all have too many.
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Old 01-29-2010, 04:10 PM   #6
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Heh, I notice it in p-books as well but I think we do see a higher frequency in e-books. Annoying.
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Old 01-29-2010, 07:11 PM   #7
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Tiepos and miss spellings drive me crasy. Bad grammar, por editing and other stuff to.
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Old 01-29-2010, 07:26 PM   #8
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I think it has a bit to do with the source of where some of the e-book library is coming from: scanning.

A publisher likely doesn't actually do the right thing and keep digital copies of books around for very long, or never had them. So they have to pay someone to scan, OCR, and proofread the scans. Odds are the guy(s) doing this aren't actual editors, and their mind likely goes numb partway through each book and they just aren't catching the errors.

I know every time I scan a book, I read through it twice before I'm confident I've caught /most/ of the errors. I'm betting these scans only go through one read in the OCR software.
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Old 01-30-2010, 12:15 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kolenka View Post
I think it has a bit to do with the source of where some of the e-book library is coming from: scanning.

A publisher likely doesn't actually do the right thing and keep digital copies of books around for very long, or never had them. So they have to pay someone to scan, OCR, and proofread the scans. Odds are the guy(s) doing this aren't actual editors, and their mind likely goes numb partway through each book and they just aren't catching the errors.

I know every time I scan a book, I read through it twice before I'm confident I've caught /most/ of the errors. I'm betting these scans only go through one read in the OCR software.
If the publisher isn't going to maintain the electronic version of the book, then a printed version that is easy to scan should be retained as an archive copy. It should be printed and formatted in a way that is easy for a scanner to accurately read (printed in a OCR font like "OCR-B" [where each character is distinctly different from any other character], each paragraph separated by a blank line, and includes annotations to clarify formatting where needed).

I suspect one of the reasons that errors slip through is that the original book was printed in a typeface that isn't very easy to accurately scan, or is too small to be easily read. One of the reasons I prefer to read in a serif font is that it is easy to tell the difference between the letters (in some san-serif fonts it is easy to confuse a "1" and a lower case "L" or an "O" and a "0" [the number zero]).
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Old 01-30-2010, 03:47 AM   #10
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I have a pdf book where every other page is, I think, an image whilst the other page is normal text. On the image pages I cannot use the dictionary, the font is different and less clear and are spots on the pages as if there were dust on the scanner or page.

I also noticed that it seems that there are more mistakes in older books and those written by unknown writers. Luckily I haven't had an ebook that was unreadable because of OCR or grammar mistakes.
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Old 01-30-2010, 05:33 AM   #11
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Some of this error (not all) might well be technology generated. What my own wee house does when producing ebook versions of our paperbacks is not to use the material we set for print but to go back to the corrected Word.doc source, re-proof and set for ebook with a completely new version. It's still not foolproof, but it works well and is much better than creating an ebook, almost as an afterthought, from the file intended for print. My guess is that many publishers are too lazy, cheap or understaffed to go to the added editorial trouble of post-galley re-proofing and correction sopecifically for ebook. Cheers. Neil
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Old 01-30-2010, 06:15 AM   #12
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It seems they sometimes never even have a look at (I won't say proofread) the finished ebook before putting it on the market.

I recently bought an epub book from waterstones, it had strange random characters where accented characters should be. That was apparent even on the first few pages, so I can assume no one ever bothered to actually open the book after conversion. The accented characters where so many (it took place in Paris so there was a lot of French being spoken) that the book was completely unreadable. I put up with mistakes before (though I shouldn't have) but this time I complained (to Waterstones, not the publisher, as my relationship was with Waterstones and I believe it's their job to talk to the publisher).

Guess what, I got nothing at all useful from them (no good version of the book, no money back, and even their generic responses of how much they care were late and uninterested). At least if it was a pbook I could have returned it. I am very dissatisfied with Waterstones, and I don't think I will ever be bying from them again. You cannot read random passages out of ebooks before buying, and if they turn out to be faulty it seems that in some stores at least, there is no way of returning them.

Now, the problem about the specific book is solved, thanks to knowledgeable and helpful MR members. It was a very simple, and very stupid error of encoding. Once I removed drm and edited the first line of a bunch of xtmls, the book was as good as new (as far as accented characters are concerned - I may find other errors once I get to reading it). That's something publishers who use drm obviously don't want to allow me to do. So, they don't care enough and don't know enough to make a proper ebook, and don't want to give other people the right to correct the situation either.

That said, yes, I have seen some typos here and there in pbooks too. But they are so few and far between that they always greatly surprise me. Now I am almost conditioned to expect them in ebooks. It's insulting how they expect us to pay more money for an inferior product and say nothing about it....

(oops, sorry for the looooong post It seems I'm angrier than I thought!)
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Old 02-09-2010, 01:21 PM   #13
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The multiple characters where the accented characters should have been were most likely the correct character, just encoded as unicode, which some readers don't support. They should have been replaced with the proper html entity code (i.e. &aacute). So the book was not exactly wrong (probably showed up fine in a browser), but not exactly right, either.
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Old 02-09-2010, 04:27 PM   #14
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I have started a Hall of Shame for poorly edited or formatted ebooks at my blog An American Editor. For details on participating, how to submit your entries, and what is permissible, go to Hall of Shame: An Introduction. I expect to make the posts of what I receive on Saturdays but not necessarily every Saturday.
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Old 02-14-2010, 10:19 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhadin View Post
I have started a Hall of Shame for poorly edited or formatted ebooks at my blog An American Editor. For details on participating, how to submit your entries, and what is permissible, go to Hall of Shame: An Introduction. I expect to make the posts of what I receive on Saturdays but not necessarily every Saturday.
I read the post about the first four reader nominations today:
http://americaneditor.wordpress.com/...me-nominees-1/

I find it interesting that the first two are e-book editions of print books and the third is a print book (a print book about publishing, no less). One of the worst examples of e-book editing I read was an e-book edition of a print book. (I'm pretty sure it was another eReads edition.) I reported the errors to FictionWise, but I didn't dare download the corrected version because I didn't want to read that book again.

I posted about the Hall of Shame on another board because I know some people who have strong feelings about editing hang out there. Maybe you'll get some more nominations. Knowing the memnbers, you'll get very detailed examples.
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