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Old 11-06-2006, 02:09 AM   #1
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Things Sony must clean up for the PRS to be successful

Having had my PRS-500 for about two weeks now, I have come to the conclusion that this is a good piece of hardware hobbled by mediocre software and poor quality control on the content. Unfortunately, these two things could be sufficient to kill the product, particularly at the price.

To my mind, these are the things Sony must do, and had really better do soon:

Improve the book store. Browsing is a very painful experience; pages are slow to load, there is no way to sort titles by author name, and titles are frequently mis-categorized (and filing some titles in multiple categories would not be a bad thing).

If you sort a list of titles while browsing by anything other than "relevance", and then select a book to view its detail...and then back arrow to the list of titles, that list resets itself to sorted by "relevance". How I wish I could right-click and select "open in new tab". A drill-down would be nice: genre/category, author, then titles by that author.

And for heaven's sake, if you're going to carry books that are part of a series...give the poor customer some idea what order the books are supposed to be in.

Add a freakin wish list feature if you aren't going to make browsing easy.

And by the way, why am I not getting an e-mail every week announcing new titles for sale...the way someone like Fictionwise does?

Improve the Connect software. The user interface is slow and sluggish...even on a quad-core Xeon with 2 gb RAM!

Improve the presentation of books. Given that the frame of the reader itself makes nice margins...and given that the screen is most likely the most expensive component of the reader...why, oh why are we wasting so much screen real estate on margins? At least take the left and right edges of the page close to the edge of the screen.

Proofread the books. I'm currently reading Steven Levy's new book, and I'm shaking my head. It isn't as if Penguin is a shoe-string operation; but I am wondering if Sony is doing the conversions to BeB rather than the publishers. I keep seeing gaffes like "soft ware" (consistently!), "Thei Pod", and other such wackiness. The Del Rey Conan titles still have the line art in them - but reproduced to a fraction of the screen's size, and are little more than blobs or scribbles. It is one thing to put up with poor proofreading from second tier publishers (eReads, Renaissance and Rosetta being the bad offenders in this regard), but I expect better from a major publisher who wouldn't let these things into print.

My bottom line is this: the Reader costs a significant premium over simply continuing to buy books on paper, and there is frequently no cost incentive for purchasing an electronic edition over a paper edition. That being the case, it would be in Sony's best interests to make the shopping experience and the presentation quality of the content as superb as possible. Unfortunately, the only thing Sony seems to have learned from the iTunes Music Store is that rectangles should have rounded corners.
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Old 11-06-2006, 04:50 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmeister0
Proofread the books. I'm currently reading Steven Levy's new book, and I'm shaking my head. It isn't as if Penguin is a shoe-string operation; but I am wondering if Sony is doing the conversions to BeB rather than the publishers. I keep seeing gaffes like "soft ware" (consistently!), "Thei Pod", and other such wackiness.
I was really looking forward to this book, actually. Didn't know it was already available. But now that you mention these silly errors, I have to think twice about buying it. Is it really that bad?
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Old 11-06-2006, 09:29 AM   #3
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Gemstar published an eBook catalog of their store that you could download and then search through using their eBook device. When you found a book you wanted you could click on the link and purchase it.

With a Sony you could create a wish list using book marks.
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Old 11-06-2006, 10:28 AM   #4
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The shop's interface is a pretty straightforward xml (see http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=8036), so someone could write a stand-alone cataloging application.
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Old 11-06-2006, 11:41 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by igorsk
The shop's interface is a pretty straightforward xml (see http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=8036), so someone could write a stand-alone cataloging application.
I said it before and I say it again: Sony would be well advised to release REST or SOAP Web service APIs to their Webstore. It would take no time for geeks to write software 10x better than Connect, and I don't see how it could harm Sony's current business model in any way.
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Old 11-06-2006, 12:13 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurens
I was really looking forward to this book, actually. Didn't know it was already available. But now that you mention these silly errors, I have to think twice about buying it. Is it really that bad?
It seems to be one every two or three pages, which to my nit-picking mind is pretty bad; by which I mean, I would never have it out the door. I will point out, however, that I am still reading it, and it isn't really preventing me reading the book.

I do think it reflects poorly of Sony's effort. I highly doubt the print version has issues these bad (that is what galley proofs are for, after all), and it makes me think that nobody actually opened the resulting BeB file and looked through it to make sure it converted well.

According to Amazon the print version is out, and it is on the Connect store as well. The book itself is quite enjoyable, and I have always liked Levy's writing.
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Old 11-06-2006, 12:44 PM   #7
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It's not just a Sony thing. I bought this title in Lit format and I remember it also had errors like that (and I bet you anything that once the Amazon Kindle realeases their device and store, this book will have the same issues). They're eBooks - it's unavoidable at this point to have a perfect conversion. Once the eBook market takes off and publishers are able to budget more money for their conversions, they'll likely be fewer errors. I don't think it interupts the book that much anyway. I recommend the book despite the minor typos.

(Sidenote: it's a Simon & Schuster title, not Penguin)
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Old 11-06-2006, 12:56 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MelancholyTea
It's not just a Sony thing. I bought this title in Lit format and I remember it also had errors like that (and I bet you anything that once the Amazon Kindle realeases their device and store, this book will have the same issues). They're eBooks - it's unavoidable at this point to have a perfect conversion. Once the eBook market takes off and publishers are able to budget more money for their conversions, they'll likely be fewer errors. I don't think it interupts the book that much anyway. I recommend the book despite the minor typos.
Thanks. At least it's a little more assuring that other versions have these issues as well. Just bought it.
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Old 11-06-2006, 08:14 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MelancholyTea
It's not just a Sony thing. I bought this title in Lit format and I remember it also had errors like that ...
What's up with this, anyway? This sounds like OCR issues, but I can't believe they don't have the original digital file the book was produced from, and that's presumably as error free as the print edition.

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Old 11-06-2006, 09:07 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobVA
What's up with this, anyway? This sounds like OCR issues, but I can't believe they don't have the original digital file the book was produced from, and that's presumably as error free as the print edition.

Puzzled,
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I don't believe they are OCR issues in this case. I suspect there are conversion artifacts (the whole "soft ware" thing might have actually been "soft-ware" with a soft hypen embedded in it; odd spaces on either side of a comma or a bracket are not uncommon in mark-up languages).

But yes, I would think there would be an electronic manuscript for a book this recent, and that somebody would have done some QC.

If you ever want to see just how henious OCR errors can get, try Rosetta's edition of "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe"; in one particularly memorable paragraph, the word "other" gets turned into "otter", resulting in Zaphod braining a helpless animal on a table, as opposed to his other head.
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Old 11-06-2006, 09:12 PM   #11
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My guess is that they handed a file off to be converted way back when, but the file hadn't been fully proofed, or was originally converted with errors, and they've just been reconverting that same file to new formats. Not surprising if they're using some company to do the conversions for them.

For instance, I've heard rumors that Rosetta Books might not have the best QC.

I hadn't looked at it before, but this little snippet from their about us page might shed some light on what's going on with e-books...
Quote:
The Company secures the exclusive electronic rights to great copyrighted books of the 20th century and then distributes those electronic books through all commercially viable channels including eBook retailers, promotional web sites, focused educational channels, as well as the company´s own retail website.
[emphasis mine]
Offhand, I see a number of books that are in Connect in Rosetta's listings (which means Sony has to negotiate with them, according to the above quote), this may shed some light on a lot of things, now that I think about it.

Last edited by NatCh; 11-06-2006 at 09:14 PM.
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Old 11-06-2006, 11:33 PM   #12
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I think the number one thing they need to do is fix the conversions of books in the Connect store. I bought a bundled set (Janet Evanovich's "One for the Money," "Two for the Dough," and "Three to Get Ready") and I've read the first book. The book itself is great and I really enjoyed it. However, the conversion was truly horrible. As I stated in another thread, by the time I got through the book there were errors on literally 98%+ of every single screen (page). These errors took the form of running words together. For instance, "Such as" would be, "Suchas", "He wanted to think about it" would be "Hewanted to think aboutit." etc. It was horribly distracting and took away much enjoyment of the book.

And of course, since everything is DRM'd, I couldn't even run a spell check on it and fix it in an editor before reading it. This is just unacceptable and amateurish. Whether or not they have a third party doing the conversion is neither here nor there. Sony has a real shot at having a runaway hit with the Reader (which I absolutely LOVE btw). But they really need to ensure that what you receive from the Connect store is top quality.
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Old 11-07-2006, 06:18 AM   #13
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I would like to have soft hyphens in the books. Justified text is nice and all, but without hyphenation you get lots of whitespace between words. Either that or let the user choose to have the text left-aligned, so that word spacing is equal.
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Old 11-07-2006, 10:24 AM   #14
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We must remember that every book is in e-form just before printing. There are numerous versions as it is being worked on. It can be a simple mistake like taking the version that was going to be proof read and getting it out. An other problem I see is the transfer between a Word document and prepress software where the conversion is not always perfect.

Last edited by yvanleterrible; 11-07-2006 at 10:25 AM. Reason: stupid typos again!
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Old 04-03-2009, 07:54 AM   #15
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I have both the Kindle and the Sony. In both instances, there are errors in the e-print. I have read entire novels on the Sony and not noticed a single error. There seems to be about the same amount on both readers. Each reader has its faults and pluses. I enjoy reading on both of them.
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