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Old 08-05-2018, 05:39 PM   #1
haertig
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Proof reading errors? Arggg!

Is anyone else significantly bothered by poor proof reading?

I just finished Matthew Reilly's "Temple". The story was good, the writing was good (except for a few really over the top unrealistic sequences where I was rolling my eyes in stunned disbelief, but I can accept those in the name of fun).

But what made me almost put the book down unfinished were all the errors. The book was chock full of hyphenated words. At times it seemed like every multiple syllable word was hyphenated inappropriately. Multiple instances per written page. Then there was the obvious substitution of the word "the" for "die". And when they meant "150" it was written as "ISO". Want a capital letter "I"? Substitute a slash "/" instead. And it seemed like every sentence had at least one word in italics for emphasis. "Just be-cause a sen-tence has multi-syllable words that can be italicized and hyphen-ated doesn't mean that they should be!"

I'm not sure why it was so bad. It's almost like a poor quality Optical Character Recognition system was used to turn a typed manuscript into an eBook. Really disappointing. We aren't talking spelling/grammar errors here, this was just bizarre letter/word/symbol substitutions. I'm guessing the italics was intentional, although inappropriate for the most part.

Is anyone else bothered by poor quality control like this?
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Old 08-05-2018, 06:01 PM   #2
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Why do you write "It's almost like a poor quality Optical Character Recognition system was used to turn a typed manuscript into an eBook." when, from your description, the ebook was almost certainly made via OCR? The hyphens were probably at the end of lines in the printed book.
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Old 08-05-2018, 06:33 PM   #3
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And who would scan a book with OCR to turn it into a eBook when most likely they would also have access to the original text used to create the printed book?

IF they indeed used OCR to create the eBook, that would explain the errors. Then the question might become, who in the world would want to use OCR in the first place? Maybe I could see that if this was some pirated eBook where the original source was not available. But unless my library is buying pirated eBooks and putting them up via Overdrive, I have a hard time comprehending why this would be an OCR-created eBook.

But my question really was, "Is there anyone else that these errors bother?" Regardless of how they got there - be it OCR or something else. The cause of the errors was just an aside. OCR may explain the errors, as I hinted in my initial post, but it does not make them more palatable. At least not for me. I was asking if it bothered others as well.
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Old 08-05-2018, 06:51 PM   #4
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haertig the last book I bought* (which will be the last book I buy) as an ebook was the same. I got passed the first couple of pages and thought that I could probably stick at it, but it got progressively worse.

It had similar weirdness all the way through and I just couldn't be bothered. I returned it.

* I'm pretty sure it was a Sue Grafton book, one of the later ones. I suspect that they'd converted from Word using Word HTML and that was never going to end well.
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Old 08-05-2018, 07:29 PM   #5
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And who would scan a book with OCR to turn it into a eBook when most likely they would also have access to the original text used to create the printed book?
Big Publishing Houses and others for quite a few years.

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IF they indeed used OCR to create the eBook, that would explain the errors. Then the question might become, who in the world would want to use OCR in the first place? Maybe I could see that if this was some pirated eBook where the original source was not available. But unless my library is buying pirated eBooks and putting them up via Overdrive, I have a hard time comprehending why this would be an OCR-created eBook.
This has been discussed for years. The hardback for your book came out at least as early as 2000 and 10 years after that the excuse was still that the computer files and software used to make paper books was incompatible with the same for ebooks. I don't know if it still happens for new books from large publishers, but I think it is still very common for old books just coming out as ebooks.

I do know, for example, that the ebook Silent Spring from Amazon has been updated with higher resolution images, enhanced typesetting, and xray support, but the OCR errors are still there. If one of the most influential books of the previous century doesn't get typographic TLC, what can more run of the mill books expect?

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But my question really was, "Is there anyone else that these errors bother?" Regardless of how they got there - be it OCR or something else. The cause of the errors was just an aside. OCR may explain the errors, as I hinted in my initial post, but it does not make them more palatable. At least not for me. I was asking if it bothered others as well.
This has also been frequently discussed. It bothers a large number of people a lot and doesn't bother at all another large number of people and a lot of people are somewhere in between.
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Old 08-05-2018, 10:05 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by haertig View Post
Is anyone else bothered by poor quality control like this?
I am bothered by it, when I weigh up the pros and cons of ebooks vs. paper books I count it as the single biggest negative for ebooks. But for me the balance still favours ebooks, and so I continue to buy them and have just become used to spending a bit of time correcting the inevitable publishing errors.

If for some reason I wasn't able to correct the errors myself (such as being unable to remove DRM) then it would be a much bigger problem and I would probably go back to buying second-hand paper books instead.

Last edited by GeoffR; 08-05-2018 at 10:15 PM. Reason: second-hand paper books
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Old 08-05-2018, 11:12 PM   #7
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In the past, I have noticed a spelling error maybe once or twice in an entire eBook. This one however, was a fountain of errors. And they did seem to get worse as the book went on (maybe I had just been sensitized to them after having waded through so many).

I don't go for the "software not compatible" argument. If there is an electronic version of a book used for printing, I see no reason why that can't easily be converted to a different format. I've done data conversions like this for a living for decades, writing software to convert stuff. You have the text of the novel, then you have formatting/markup that presents that text in a certain way. You can try to "convert" the formatting/markup if you want, or you can discard it totally and start anew from the raw text. Then you proofread the result when you are done, possibly making manual corrections if you find that your conversion algorithm was not 100%. If you're too cheap/lazy to do that, then your books belong in the bargain bin, not sold at full price. It would be nice to post a warning at the front of the eBook, but I doubt many authors are going to put "Warning, this eBook started from OCR, was not proofread, and may be a steaming heap of garbage in the presentation department".
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Old 08-06-2018, 12:13 AM   #8
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To the extend that OP is describing it would bother me. Since I haven't seen such a thing in a long time it hasn't startled me enough to stop reading. Very seldom do I see OCR mistakes anymore - I see the occasional grammatical or misspelling mistakes. This happens with both traditionally published and self published books.
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Old 08-06-2018, 01:50 AM   #9
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I have seen this sort of thing and yes, it bothers me. It was an author I like a on a favourite book I still own the print copy of. The protagonist's name was spelt 4 different ways throughout the book, there were numerous proof-reading errors. This was a legitimate purchase from Amazon, and it got a bad review from me for the proof-reading (my advice was to stick to the print edition).

Some self-pubbed works also suffer from this. Here I suspect the author of being too cheap to pay for proper editing or too arrogant to bother and I won't touch them with a bargepole subsequently.
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Old 08-06-2018, 10:41 AM   #10
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My example for this was Norman Spinrad's The Mind Game. I believe that he self-pubbed it from a pirated version that was poorly edited, and did not attempt to copyedit it from a print version. I gave it a bad review with an example of the bad formatting causing ambiguous meaning, and recommended the print edition.
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Old 08-06-2018, 02:47 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by haertig View Post
Is anyone else significantly bothered by poor proof reading?

I just finished Matthew Reilly's "Temple". The story was good, the writing was good (except for a few really over the top unrealistic sequences where I was rolling my eyes in stunned disbelief, but I can accept those in the name of fun).

But what made me almost put the book down unfinished were all the errors. The book was chock full of hyphenated words. At times it seemed like every multiple syllable word was hyphenated inappropriately. Multiple instances per written page. Then there was the obvious substitution of the word "the" for "die". And when they meant "150" it was written as "ISO". Want a capital letter "I"? Substitute a slash "/" instead. And it seemed like every sentence had at least one word in italics for emphasis. "Just be-cause a sen-tence has multi-syllable words that can be italicized and hyphen-ated doesn't mean that they should be!"

I'm not sure why it was so bad. It's almost like a poor quality Optical Character Recognition system was used to turn a typed manuscript into an eBook. Really disappointing. We aren't talking spelling/grammar errors here, this was just bizarre letter/word/symbol substitutions. I'm guessing the italics was intentional, although inappropriate for the most part.

Is anyone else bothered by poor quality control like this?
"die" for "the" is a common ocr error. I haven't seen a bad ocr conversion like that in commercial book in a long time, and I think it was a older public domain book. It would cause me to return for a refund.
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Old 08-06-2018, 04:52 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by bgalbrecht View Post
My example for this was Norman Spinrad's The Mind Game. I believe that he self-pubbed it from a pirated version that was poorly edited, and did not attempt to copyedit it from a print version. I gave it a bad review with an example of the bad formatting causing ambiguous meaning, and recommended the print edition.
The problems are apparent from the first page of the sample. Can't imagine paying eight bucks for that when no one properly prepared the book for publication.
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Old 08-06-2018, 07:56 PM   #13
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I am reading a book now and when I hit "stitt" I was thrown off. I reread the sentence and it was clearly meant to be "still". Even a simple spell check should have caught that It's even worse when the author uses the wrong word such as "he wouldn't tow the line" or has a factual error such as "he released the safety on the revolver."

Occasionally, the errors are enough I quit reading the book and I always notice Amazon Kindle and the publisher in those cases.

Sometimes the book was obviously converted with an OCR and never proofed. One of my favorites was a Chester Himes book in which, "...the bullet mailed the hat to his head." Nailed the hat to his head, you nitwit.
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Old 08-07-2018, 12:22 AM   #14
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The problems are apparent from the first page of the sample. Can't imagine paying eight bucks for that when no one properly prepared the book for publication.
Fortunately for me, it was free for a day back when Amazon was making self-pubbed authors make their books free once every 90 days if they wanted them part of one of their Amazon exclusives programs (or something like that). I know that Spinrad's pretty old, and I think in poor health. Since he's not bothered to fix it in the last 6 years, I don't expect it to be fixed by him, and probably not by his literary estate. Maybe when it becomes public domain in another 100 or so years...
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Old 08-07-2018, 06:09 AM   #15
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Isn't "arggghh" supposed to end with an "h" or multiple "h's"?
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