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Old 06-14-2010, 10:16 PM   #1
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What is the general quality of free ebooks?

I see many offers of free, $0.99 and $1.99 ebooks everywhere.

How is the quality of these books?

Thanks.

[edit- mainly writing quality but grammar also, please]

Last edited by Fbone; 06-14-2010 at 10:39 PM. Reason: clarification
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Old 06-14-2010, 10:22 PM   #2
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define quality- excellent writing or excellent typesetting etc?
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Old 06-14-2010, 10:32 PM   #3
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I am an avid reader. I am bothered by excessive grammar errors or typos/bad formatting. I have purchased quite a few low-priced books from smashwords and have been, with few exceptions, content with the quality. If anything, the formatting isn't always ideal, but rarely does it interfere with my enjoyment of the book.
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Old 06-14-2010, 10:41 PM   #4
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the free books available here on mobile read are generally of high quality as far as formatting, editing etc. People make the extra effort to get it right.
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Old 06-14-2010, 11:04 PM   #5
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Depends highly on the source of the book.
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Old 06-14-2010, 11:27 PM   #6
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If you're a stickler for typesetting, typical quality is pretty abysmal. Most ebook readers find a way to ignore it.
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Old 06-15-2010, 05:18 AM   #7
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ePub from Smashwords is an abomination.
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Old 06-15-2010, 06:17 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astra View Post
ePub from Smashwords is an abomination.
I go for the RTF and make my own epub with Calibre. I don't know if it is the very long filenames inside the zip that does it, but I always have problems with Smashword epubs.
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Old 06-15-2010, 06:23 AM   #9
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I have absolutely no problems with free books. There are often typos made by format changes, but it doesn't detract from my enjoyment of the books. Some folks would be upset to see this. I'm not. A lot depends upon your wants and needs. A safe bet is to download from the MobileRead forms library. Folks here take a lot of time and care to put together a higher quality book for us to share, and there certainly are plenty to choose from!

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Old 06-15-2010, 06:33 AM   #10
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@Fbone : As there is often no actual publisher or editor in between the writer and the reader*, the quality varies wildly. I have read some excellent free books, and a lot of good ones. Look for reviews to tell you how other people think. Read a sample - Smashwords has a fairly large part of any book free to sample.
*Some do have publishers, of course. Again, on Smashwords you can see the publisher if there is one, and search by publisher. If you find a publisher you trust, chances are all their books will have more or less the same level of quality.

Now Smashwords epub may not be the best around, but it's getting better, and they are friendly folk open to suggestions. The problem is that they have an automatic process of conversion, and often unexpected things in the input file create unexpected results. However, there is no DRM, and you can choose any format you like anyway, so it's not really a big deal. Commercial and locked bad epubs are a far bigger problem.

I realise the OP didn't ask specifically about Smashwords. It is, however, what comes to mind when I think about self-published books. (Feedbooks too, but that only has free ones)
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Old 06-15-2010, 07:07 AM   #11
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I go for the RTF
That's what I do, too.
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Old 06-15-2010, 07:51 AM   #12
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@Fbone : As there is often no actual publisher or editor in between the writer and the reader*, the quality varies wildly.
As it does with "real" publishers. I've bought ebooks from Macmillan that have had mistakes on practically every page, so paying more for your ebooks doesn't mean higher quality. What you are paying the extra for is all the hangers on who all want a slice of the profit. With the self published books there is just the author and possibly an editor to pay for, so selling it at 0.99 will probably generate the same level of income for them.
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Old 06-15-2010, 07:55 AM   #13
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Speaking as an author published by Smashwords, I've noticed the odd comment concerning the metadata on on the Smashwords .mobi (Kindle) format. There seems to be a small problem with it, though nothing serious - I'm looking into it anyway. As far as I'm aware, there are no problems with the actual formatting of the main contents of the ebook itself
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Old 06-15-2010, 08:56 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by mr ploppy View Post
As it does with "real" publishers. I've bought ebooks from Macmillan that have had mistakes on practically every page, so paying more for your ebooks doesn't mean higher quality. What you are paying the extra for is all the hangers on who all want a slice of the profit. With the self published books there is just the author and possibly an editor to pay for, so selling it at 0.99 will probably generate the same level of income for them.
Unfortunately this is very true. The quality of commercial ebooks by traditional publishers is very often a disgrace.

What I meant is that very often, no one else has looked at an indie book except for its author and friends until it reaches the public. This could mean that mistakes may go unnoticed, there may be inconsistencies, it would maybe benefit from some restructuring, or , in an extreme case, it could just be pages upon pages of "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet" (but that can be checked by the sample of course)

A publisher does not guarantee quality. I've read traditionally published books that were far worse than some freebies out there (some freebies are excellent!). However, you at least know that someone chose to publish the book, which means it must at the very least be legible, and someone other than the author and his family edited it, which means that ideally there should be no plot inconsistencies, false information, bad grammar or typos in there. I'm no fan of the traditional system, but I think every author could benefit from the services of one or more editors, professional or not.

But that is not the point. The point is, an independently published ebook may be a masterpiece, or a piece of garbage. The sample and the reviews are the only things to help you judge before you buy, unless you already know and trust the author.
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Old 06-15-2010, 10:33 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A_J_Lath View Post
Speaking as an author published by Smashwords, I've noticed the odd comment concerning the metadata on on the Smashwords .mobi (Kindle) format. There seems to be a small problem with it, though nothing serious - I'm looking into it anyway. As far as I'm aware, there are no problems with the actual formatting of the main contents of the ebook itself
I guess it depends on the person. I just downloaded your book in mobi and opened it in Kindle 4PC. There is no cover, the paragraph indents are barely visible (I'm sure some people don't care), there is no table of contents, and there are no chapter breaks. Also the *** section separators aren't centered, which just looks odd to me. Your title reads as "tmp_4216636d3433ac1853f76634523eee73_HUzJ1F.fixed .tidied" and the author shows as "User".

Now I'm sure plenty of people will download it and be fine with it. For me the first thing I want to do is reformat it myself before reading and for me to do that I have to REALLY want to read it.
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