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Old 09-21-2010, 08:16 PM   #1
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EBook Quality?

Hey there,

So my Kindle, ordered 1st Sept, shipped on Monday. Should have it before the end of the week! (Hurrah for BFPO shipping.)

I grabbed the 3G one because I travel a lot.

So my question now is - What's the quality of the ebooks from Amazon like? By which I mean the transcribing, the formatting, etc?

I'm more than happy to download books from other stores and rip the DRM off of them, like I plan to do with the books I bought for my Sony Reader. So will I get better formatted ebooks if I do it all myself, or are the ones from Amazon of a decent enough quality to justify the price?

Thanks guys.
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Old 09-21-2010, 08:43 PM   #2
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It depends on each book, and who formatted it.

There doesn't seem to be any set of standards........I've gotten books that are perfect, some that aren't.

If you get a particularly bad one, use the kindle CS and let them know.....they'll refund your money and pull it from the shelves.
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Old 09-22-2010, 02:46 AM   #3
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Completely depends. I've only had one book that was awful quality (i actually just bought it last week). It was so bad (typos EVERYWHERE) I complained to Amazon and they told me if I wanted a refund they would refund me.

I need the text for school so I might wait till I finish reading it for my class and if there is no update get a refund.

Knowing that Amazon is willing to refund poorly formated/copied books makes it easier for me to buy more even if I had one bad experience!
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Old 09-22-2010, 03:31 AM   #4
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The quality of each book is not down to Amazon but the publisher - so no matter where you purchase the ebook, it should be the same in terms of quality. Most books I've purchased have been fine, there has been the odd typo but nothing to really spoil a book. It's nice to know that Amazon will refund if you complain though - not sure what the policy is with other companies who sell ebooks.
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Old 09-22-2010, 09:18 AM   #5
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It depends. As others have said every book is different. Some are perfect others are terrible, with bad page structure/paragraph formation, numerous typos, poor word spacing. The only thing we can do is complain to amazon or whatever site we bought the book from and hopefully they will issue a refund. I've never bought a book which was un-readable.
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Old 09-22-2010, 11:42 AM   #6
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The best way to tell whether or not an ebook is formatted correctly is to check the sample. That'll give you a good indicator if paragraphs are aligned the way they should, not to mention you'll be able to tell if there are numerous writing errors. There's really no way to tell how it is without checking for yourself. Some major publishers do a slapdash job of it and it looks terrible, while some construct great files.

As far as indie authors like myself go, I think most writers would have a hard time figuring it all out themselves. I entrusted the quality of the formatting to a professional. The last thing I want is for anything to get in the way of the story I have to tell.

Last edited by foreverjuly; 09-22-2010 at 11:45 AM.
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Old 09-22-2010, 11:53 AM   #7
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I've seen anything from fantastic to downright horrible.
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Old 09-22-2010, 11:54 AM   #8
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There's two 'quality' factors to look out for (well, three I suppose); but the one I struggle with the most is the quality of the rendering of the ebook on the actual device in terms of layout/typesetting.

I spent a considerable amount of effort in getting manuscripts "right" for print production, alas when you convert to ePub you lose a lot of the beauty and then you also have to deal with the way the device itself renders the eBook.

There have been reports of less than stellar conversions (including spelling mistakes) which I suspect might be due to the physical book having being scanned and converted, as opposed to creating the eBook from an electronic manuscript.

Unfortunately of course, if the original manuscript was bad to start with then there's no saving it

Paul.
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Old 09-22-2010, 12:15 PM   #9
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I find the general level of quality in ebooks to be disappointing. Many don't seem to have been proof-read. A simple spell-check would have caught many of the mistakes. I've even found books where the strike-throughs from the word processor have been left in the text.

Most problems do seem to be a result of errors in the OCR process, though. The problems do seem to be independent of the place purchased, which makes sense. Some formatting problems such as margins and the like may be attributed to conversion software.

Last edited by JMikeD; 09-22-2010 at 12:51 PM.
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Old 09-22-2010, 12:25 PM   #10
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JMikeD,

I think another reason why the quality could be so bad at times is that of course eBooks offer a very low-bar entry into the world of publishing, so no doubt there will be a lot of books that were written without the involvement of editors etc.

Paul.
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Old 09-22-2010, 12:57 PM   #11
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Agreed. Though I've seen some egregious errors from publishers such as MacMillan, HarperCollins, etc. It just seems as though they are not paying attention.

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Old 09-22-2010, 01:27 PM   #12
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some look great and others look horrible. But you can always get an idea about the quality before you click "buy" by just downloading a sample. If the formatting's bad in the sample...it's going to be bad throughout the book. Likewise with grammar. As for typos...well, I've never read a book (and I've read a lot) that didn't have typos.

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Old 09-22-2010, 01:30 PM   #13
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A key point for variation in quality when it comes to formatting, it seems to me, is recent vs. backlist titles. Recent titles, overall, tend to be better than backlist titles, which often seem to be hasty scan/OCR jobs with no proofreading.

Then again, last year's Harry Dresden book was a new release from a big publisher that had huge spaces between each paragraph and some horrible HTML underneath. I agree that the best way to know for sure is to check out a sample. Big, consistent formatting problems (like huge spaces between paragraphs) are usually apparent very quickly.
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Old 09-22-2010, 04:34 PM   #14
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After reading Carl Hiaasen's Skinny Dip, and because his Star Island is one of the best-selling Kindle books, I decided to go back and read some of his earlier stuff. I downloaded and read his Double Whammy sample from Amazon and ordered it by clicking on the "Buy this book now" link at the end of the sample. Even though the sample seemed OK, before I got 1/3 through the book I couldn't stand how poorly done this e-book was. There were misspellings, poor punctuation, bad spacing, and overall bad formatting. This book was originally published 22 years ago and was obviously a poor scan job with no additional editing. Then I discovered that I had paid $13.99 for this crappy presentation! I asked and got a refund from Amazon. The response from Penguin to my complaint about both the pricing and the formatting was a canned reply regarding the pricing with no mention of anything they would do to correct the formatting.
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