A Gripe Perhaps About E-Books?

For the last several weeks, I have been reading Aristotle’s The Metaphysics on my Kindle.  Even though there were a couple of freebies available on Amazon for this particular title, I decided to go ahead and download the Penguin Classics version of this work so I could get a decent introduction and perhaps some great insights on the book itself from someone who’s more intimately familiar with philosophy, in particular, Aristotle.

I felt I didn’t have to worry about quality issues, as I’ve purchased many books published by Penguin Classics in physical form before, such as Sun-Tzu’s The Art of War and James Fennimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans.  Both are great books, by the way, and I highly recommend reading them.  So without ado, I went ahead and purchased this particular version on my Kindle.

Now, I’m well aware there are some books, such as the freebies, that may have formatting issues, maybe even some miss-spelled words, such as what I encountered with Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience; however, it wasn’t something I was expecting to discover too much of with a book I actually had to pay for.  I started to pick up on a few words, here and there, within the introduction, where the text wasn’t formatted properly, such as, no spacing between words.  I can certainly deal with a couple of mistakes, it’s not that much of a big deal.  However, now that I’m more than 60% of my way through the book, I’m beginning to notice quite a few of them.  Here are two particular examples that I’ve picked up on within the last day or two, that were pretty glaring to me:

  • wemustpreferto
  • beingabletohavebeingwithoutthe

The second one listed above is my personal favorite.  I saw it and I was like, really?  Seems to be a pretty glaring error to me.  Now, I’m not one to complain/gripe too much about anything book/reading related, but seeing these two glaring formatting errors, I couldn’t help but ask myself, did anyone not proofread the electronic version of this book before they decided to hit the magical “publish” book button?

I suppose, since this book is the first that I’ve actually paid for, that has these errors, I may have gotten a little bit spoiled.  I haven’t seen any of these errors in any of the other Kindle books I’ve paid for, such as George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire four-pack I purchased, nor with President Bush’s Decision Points.  Or maybe, I just have this expectation that the books I read have close to perfect spelling and great formatting for me to enjoy my reading experience as much as possible.

Am I off base here?  What do you think?  If you pay for a digital copy of a book, shouldn’t it be as polished of a product as possible?  I’d also be interested in knowing if anyone has had any similar issues with other e-books, whether you have a Nook, Kindle, or any other e-reader.


About Jeremy

Husband, book lover, Civil War Buff. If I could read for a living I would, but unfortunately, it doesn't pay the bills!

6 Responses to “A Gripe Perhaps About E-Books?”

  1. I get annoyed when e-books aren’t particularly polished, but I have noticed that there’s a bit of improvement. Whenever I go with one of the classics, I tend to go with a freebie, but I also look at the publication dates of the e-book editions. I feel like a lot of them were rushed several years back when Kindles first came out, but some of them have updated editions that are a bit more polished. As a broke grad student I tend to put up with the editing errors in free e-books because they are incredibly convenient and don’t break my budget, but I do get annoyed when a book I’ve paid for has errors that aren’t present in the print version.

    • Hi Grace, yeah, you’re probably right about the early versions for e-books. I’ll definitely take a look at the publication dates going forward and perhaps think twice. Thanks for dropping by!

  2. If e-books are said to be the future, the issues being raised by this blog post is an area of concern. If spelling mistakes are happening, can the material itself be reliable?

    • You make a very valid point, Alex, if the books aren’t formatted properly, nor spelled properly, how reliable can the rest of the data in the book be? Thanks for dropping by!

  3. What Grace said is exactly it! So many of them were rushed out that they didn’t proof the copies and we ended up with crazy (and often times creative) run togethers or poor spacing like you’ve shown. They’ve gotten better recently, but they haven’t actually gone back to re-edit the older ones which is an issue!

    • Yeah, you would think, Geoff, that these publishers might be interested, from time-to-time, to take a look at their earlier e-books and see if they’re formatted correctly. Maybe if enough people being contacting publishers when they have issues with formatting/spelling, they’ll actually do something about it. Thanks for dropping by!

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