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Old 01-24-2010, 11:53 AM   #1
alecE
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So I'm an anal retentive boring old fart, BUT

Whatever happened to the ideas of quality and imagination in publishing ebooks?
Today I logged on to Transworld who publish the Discworld series in the UK. At last, the full set of titles is there. So I downloaded #1, 'The Colour of Magic'. And find:
Table of contents reads ..."Thek Sending of Eight - Prologue"; and the same typo is present in the actual chapter heading as well. What really annoys me is that the paper version does not have this error!

And the packaging is sooooo boring! Which would you prefer as the cover image for your book - the ever-so-exciting bog-standard Random House symphony in grey or the slightly more interesting version which went on the UK paperbacks?

So I've emailed Transworld mentioning these two points; I'm sure they'll express infinite gratitude for letting them know

But I feel this highlights the wider point, that e-publishing requires the same attention to detail that (quality) paper publishing does. And I still see too many instances of poor quality epubs. (Thankfully, I can correct most of these by doing a little criminal removal of DRM and editing in Sigil. But I shouldn't have to do this sort of thing to overcome shoddy publishing.)

Rant over.
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Old 01-24-2010, 11:58 AM   #2
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Cover art is a problem with eBooks. Generally, it's licensed separately from the book contents, and very often (as has probably occurred in this case) the publisher does not have the electronic distribution rights to the artwork used in the printed book, so they use some "generic" cover in its place.

All the same, you'd think they could do a bit better than that, wouldn't you?
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Old 01-24-2010, 02:05 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alecE View Post
Whatever happened to the ideas of quality and imagination in publishing ebooks?
Today I logged on to Transworld who publish the Discworld series in the UK. At last, the full set of titles is there. So I downloaded #1, 'The Colour of Magic'. And find:
Table of contents reads ..."Thek Sending of Eight - Prologue"; and the same typo is present in the actual chapter heading as well. What really annoys me is that the paper version does not have this error!
I bought them all from Fictionwise, back when they were $5.77 each (after member discount). They're now $10.19 at Fictionwise, which makes the £7.34 that Random House are asking only look a bit ridiculous, rather than totally ridiculous.

Of course, both prices are really silly compared to the $7.99 for a new paperback at Amazon.com, or the £4.96 at Amazon.co.uk.

But I suppose pricing is a separate issue, which I probably shouldn't have brought up.

I'm almost curious enough to buy the UK version, to see how much of the text Harper Collins changed for the US version - whether it was just spelling, or, as with the Harry Potter books, they changed any of the actual words as well.

I can confirm that they managed to get "The Sending of Eight" right.
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Old 01-24-2010, 02:05 PM   #4
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Whatever happened to the ideas of quality and imagination in publishing ebooks?
'Whatever happened to' implies these ideas were ever prevalent in commercial epublishing...
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Old 01-24-2010, 02:41 PM   #5
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Quote:
So I'm an anal retentive boring old fart, BUT
Hey - isn't that MY line?

You're right - typos etc can be overlooked on the freebies, but if people are gettin' PAID to do it, well, how do I get me a one-a-them jobs?

-bjc
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Old 01-24-2010, 05:24 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by pdurrant View Post
...which makes the £7.34 that Random House are asking only look a bit ridiculous, rather than totally ridiculous....But I suppose pricing is a separate issue, which I probably shouldn't have brought up.
Yeah, the pricing is ridiculous, but I was trying to avoid getting too heated about that
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Old 01-24-2010, 05:28 PM   #7
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'Whatever happened to' implies these ideas were ever prevalent in commercial epublishing...
Well, I don't have any hard statistical data, but my subjective impression is that there are more typos and elementary layout errors to be found in books (both paper and digital) now than there were during the 1970's and 1980's - during that time I was working as a library cataloguer and handled many hundreds of new titles.
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Old 01-24-2010, 05:37 PM   #8
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Yeah, the pricing is ridiculous, but I was trying to avoid getting too heated about that
You may be anally retentive; but it seems the same can't be said for the publishers - they seem to be producing considerable quantities of expensive sewage.
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Old 01-24-2010, 06:26 PM   #9
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Publishers think they have found a gold mine. Scan their existing book in, run it through an automated conversion process, and sell what comes out. No point proof reading it - the source book they used was proof read already.

Forgot the best part - pay off enough elected officials to pass the DMCA which keeps us, the readers, from having any right to fix the errors in the books we buy.

Robert
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Old 01-24-2010, 08:29 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by rmm200 View Post
Publishers think they have found a gold mine. Scan their existing book in, run it through an automated conversion process, and sell what comes out. No point proof reading it - the source book they used was proof read already.

Forgot the best part - pay off enough elected officials to pass the DMCA which keeps us, the readers, from having any right to fix the errors in the books we buy.

Robert
I'm not sure that I see what relevance the DMCA - an American law - has to British books, sold in Britain, by a British publisher. Could you elaborate?
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Old 01-24-2010, 08:43 PM   #11
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I apologize - insert whatever is appropriate in your country in place of DMCA - bad laws seem to propagate themselves around the world.

If I can think of something more generic to use in place of an Americanism I will in the future...

Since I know little of British law - what is the law that keeps you from fixing defective EBooks under the guise of DRM?

Thanks!

Robert

Last edited by rmm200; 01-24-2010 at 08:54 PM. Reason: Add a request
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Old 01-24-2010, 09:04 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alecE View Post
Well, I don't have any hard statistical data, but my subjective impression is that there are more typos and elementary layout errors to be found in books (both paper and digital) now than there were during the 1970's and 1980's - during that time I was working as a library cataloguer and handled many hundreds of new titles.
My gut feeling agrees, as far as paper publishing goes. It's rather difficult to compare the state of digital publishing today to that in the 1970s, though...

The difference is, with paper publishing one can point and say 'It used to be better.' Electronic publishing has always been this bad (well, the commercial stuff, anyway. Hell of a note when I turn to the darknet to fix problems in the commercial books I've bought.)
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Old 01-25-2010, 03:52 AM   #13
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Since I know little of British law - what is the law that keeps you from fixing defective EBooks under the guise of DRM?
It's the Copyright and Related Rights Regulations 2003, passed in response to the European Union Copyright Directive.
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Old 01-25-2010, 04:03 AM   #14
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It's the Copyright and Related Rights Regulations 2003, passed in response to the European Union Copyright Directive.
There is, however, a fundamental difference between that and the DMCA.

The DMCA is criminal law - you could be prosecuted merely if it should become known that you've edited your book by removing DRM (in theory - I know that nobody ever has been, and that it's a matter of debate whether or not removing DRM actually violates the law or not).

The relevant part of the UK's copyright act is civil law. The copyright holder would have to bring a civil action against you in court and, given that editing a book that you've legitimately bought, for your own personal use, is not an act which causes any loss or damage to the copyright holder, it's difficult to think of any reason why they would wish to do so. Again, nobody has ever been so prosecuted.
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Old 01-25-2010, 11:44 AM   #15
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Not for the first time I like the British model better than our own. This gives me something else to flog my elected officials with; we are out of step with Britain and the EU.

From the land of the sort-of-free.

Robert
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