Friday, February 11, 2011

E-Books: Stop Being Lazy

I am a reader.  I've been a reader far longer than I've been a writer.  I've been reading e-books now for a little over a year.

And I've figured out what bothers me about e-books.

They're riddled with mistakes.

I'm currently reading EVERLOST by Neal Shusterman.  I've loved two of his other books and everyone told me this was the best.  But my enjoyment of it is being disrupted by issues with the Kindle version of it.  There are so many errors in this book that I'm almost unable to finish it.  Characters called by different names in the same chapter, formatting completely messed up, parts of sentences missing.  This book is a mess.  And it's not the only one.

Less care seems to be taken with electronic versions of books than their counterparts.  Now, I've only read Kindle versions but I'm willing to bet that these sorts of errors pop up in other versions too.  I applaud authors and publishers who take the time to make sure the e-versions of their books come out properly.  Patrick Ness stated on his blog that they'd held up the e-release of his Chaos Walking books until they were able to get the "Noise" to show up properly.  But it still seems that publishers are rushing books to the e-market without taking time to make sure they're good.

Listen, it's not going to be long before e-books sell just as many copies as regular books.  Stop treating them like second class products.  If the book isn't perfect, don't send it to market.


  1. Serious question: Do eBook versions not undergo the same rigorous series of copy-edits that the print version undergoes? Or is it like, "Well, they got the thing cleaned up for print, we'll just trust that we can get it ported over fine"?

  2. You know what? I honestly don't know. This is anecdotal so don't take it as gospel truth, but it feels as if newer books are getting more attention to detail than older books. In an order to fill out the list, backlist titles are being rushed to the e-market.

    That's just how it feels and may not be the truth. I'm actually sure there are a lot of truths when it comes to e-books, many of which I'm unaware of. But the end result happens to unfortunately be books riddled with so many errors that it ruins the experience for me.

  3. I'm usually an early adopter of new tech, but not e-books. I can't explain why exactly, because I'm an environmentalist too, but I'm not looking forward to giving up my real books.

  4. That's interesting. I've read more indie books than big 6 books on my Kindle so I kind of figured that was why I saw the typos. That's pretty bad if books by authors like Neal Schusterman aren't edited as well for the e-book version. I loved his book Unwind, but I read it in print.

  5. My theory is that the e-book is usually sent out before the print version. Apparently a lot of these mistakes are caught with the print version but no one bothers to fix the electronic file.

    Some of it can be attributed to technological glitches. I've had so many documents not convert to PDF properly that I can't completely blame everything on poor proofing beforehand. You would think someone would review it in the new format, though.

  6. Matthew - I feel similarly about paper books but I'm also going through this minimalism phase where I'm looking to see how much stuff I really need. With my Kindle and my laptop, I realized I could put all my necessities in a backpack and travel the world without missing anything. Before my Kindle, I'd have always missed having books. I still adore paper books and buy real copies of my favorites, but I don't feel like I need them the same way I used to.

    Sherrie - I agree. Some are done wonderfully (The Monstrumologist comes to mind as really well done). Others, sadly, are not.

    VIcki - That makes a lot of sense. Working in computers the way I do, I usually give leeway for formatting errors...line breaks and the like that come from converting something from one format to another. But things like missing punctuation or (in the case of this book) a name spelled one way in one chapter and another in the next blow my mind. These e-books usually aren't cheap and they have no resell value, so buying one that's messed up is annoying. The only saving grace is that e-books can be updated and those updates can be pushed to devices. So a publisher has the ability to correct those errors and then update all the e-books sold, much the same way apps on a smartphone are updated.


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