Does the e in ebook stand for error?

The Pitt Building, headquarters of the Cambrid...

The Pitt Building, headquarters of the Cambridge University Press, on Trumpington Street. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is not a whinge, really it’s not.

I’ve had my beloved ereader for several years now and am having to stop myself upgrading (there’s nothing wrong with mine, I just need…)  So I am keen on ebooks.  I’ve read quite a few…(I’ll have to work that out sometime).  And it seems to me that they are prone to errors.  Is it just me?

This post Just How Bad Is It? doesn’t think so, but it is quite old, so I’m not sure if things have improved.

Here is a page that details how to report an issue, it does suggest that you’ll get a refund (but you have to return the book) but isn’t hopeful on you getting a corrected replacement.

I do know a little about publishing processes (and the rest I can guess convincingly).  So I am very surprised at this, if indeed errors are more prevalent in ebooks.  Imagine the following scenarios.

In A Perfect Book Publishing World

Author writes book, this ends up in computer file of some type.

Publisher receives file.

Publisher edits, proof reads and corrects file.

Publisher sends file to printer   and…

Publisher sends file to be converted (tarted up a bit) to an ebook.

Books and ebooks are distributed.  They come from the same source so should be the same.

Book lover buys book in a lovely book shop.  Oh dear perfect world is ruined by formatting/spelling or use of the wrong “their”.

Book lover writes letter of complaint to publisher.

Publisher can do nothing about the 1000s of books out in the lovely book shops, but can correct the original file and run through the publishing process again,  Then the next run of print copies would be correct too.

IBM 305 RAMAC

IBM 305 RAMAC (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In An Imperfect Book Publishing World

Author writes book, this ends up in computer file of some type.

Publisher receives file.

Publisher edits file.

Publisher sends file to printer for proofs

Publisher sends file to be converted (tarted up a bit) to an ebook.

Publisher proof reads proof and sends printer corrections.

Printer prints books

Publisher ignores ebook.

Books and ebooks are distributed.  They now come from different sources and are not the same.

Book lover downloads lovely ebook online.  Oh dear imperfect world is shown to continue to be imperfect by formatting/spelling or use of the wrong “their”.

Book lover sends email report of error to publisher.

Book lover loses book and is refunded.

Publisher can do nothing about the 1000s of books out in the lovely book shops, but can correct the original file and run through the publishing process again, but they don’t always it seems,  Then the next ebook sold would  be correct too.

So which is it?  I expect, like most things in life, it’s somewhere between the two and some publishing houses value their ebooks and others don’t.  I expect as well that some publishing houses have more stringent requirements for the files supplied that have to adhere to properly structured books so that they can be converted correctly (e.g. Titles and headings are correctly marked up as such and not just achieved by changing the font size, interestingly WordPress enables you to produce very shoddily structured content, whereby you can pick any level of heading because it looks nice – I might have done this here as I’ve used heading2, but I’m hoping the post title is heading1.  Picky I know, if you want to know more about it you need to understand semantic structure of documents – fancy term for structure implying meaning.  That all sounds a bit technical, don’t worry I won’t do it again).

I’d be interested to know if anyone has any examples of ebook errors, and also whether these same errors are present in the printed form.

Pilgrim091013– It just keeps getting better and better.  Yes rating of 100%.

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