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Old 05-01-2010, 05:16 PM   #1
pdurrant
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Public Domain Books at Amazon

Everyone at Mobileread knows that probably the best place to get public domain ebooks is right here at Mobileread, where you can be fairly sure that some care has gone into the formatting of the ebook.

But there are lots of Kindle owners who don't know about Mobileread, and buy public domain ebooks from the Kindle store.

How can Amazon or anyone else help people to distinguish the good ones at Amazon from the terrible ones? Downloading samples is all very well, but when there are 30 different versions of the same book, that takes a lot of time - I know, I've done it.

Reviews would normally be the way to get this done, but Amazon have this bad habit of putting all the reviews for all the editions of a book into one set of reviews.

Any ideas? To give an idea of the scale of the problem, and how bad most editions are, here's my overly-long account of my adventures with Kim by Rudyard Kipling:





I recently published and illustrated edition of Kim at the Kindle store. I also downloaded samples of all the other 29 copies of Kim by Rudyard Kipling that are available there.

25 of them were quick and dirty conversions of some version of the Project Gutenberg text. Some hadn't even re-wrapped paragraphs. Few of them converted quotes and dashes to the proper typographic ones. And none fixed the typos in the PG text, or added back in the italics that were missing. Few had covers, few had correctly done tables of contents. Some were painful to try to read. None were pleasant.

One was a really good attempt at formatting the Project Gutenberg text. But not all italics were restored, and the typos were left in. It did look good though.

One was a unique text - somewhere between the 1901 original and the 1937 final version – not the PG text. It didn't even have very many typos. It had typographic quotes. But horribly let down by the formatting which was really bad and inconsistent.

The last two were good - Kindle versions of current paperback editions.

One was from Modern Library, which was good, but let down by not hyperlinking the footnotes, and being the original 1901 text.

The other was from Penguin, bizzarely with American spelling in some places, but otherwise very good, with hyperlinked footnotes.


I can safely say that my edition has better text and formatting than all the other editions available on the Kindle. (Since I've done the text comparisons!). And mine has illustrations and a hyperlinked glossary.

But how to get this information across to people browsing the Kindle store?

I've tried adding a review to those not currently linked into the massive list of Kim reviews, also mentioning the ASIN of the item being reviewed in the review, so hopefully even if it eventually gets added to the list of Kim book reviews, people will still be able to identify the Kindle edition it's about.
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