Ebook Quality Control

Digital Book World and it’s blog whose mission is to “[focus] on publishing strategies, not tools; solutions, not theories; practicality, not punditry” spotlights Liza Daly’s presentation (Ms. Daly is an experienced software engineer and consultant for digital publishing). Her presentation at the 2010 Digital Book World Conference talked about essentially, ebook quality control. Timely topic since major publishers are pushing for higher ebook prices.

Ms. Daly’s presentation reflects exactly how I feel about the state of ebooks today. For starters, she discusses “front matter” or extraneous info that readers typically run across in ebooks. Do I care to thumb through the acknowledgments page, the copyright page and several more blank pages before I start reading? No.

Lack of covers – most annoying. But the argument always circles back to well, you’re not even reading on a device that sports color anyway so what’s the big deal. It’s a big deal. In color or not, I would like to look at the original cover versus looking at a mock-up with book title, author name and publisher name. Its an eye-sore and it looks tacky. Besides, Stanza and eReader apps for iPhone sports color covers.

Right now I am reading an secure ePub title that has numbers in the margins. It’s not entirely bothersome but I do notice it and why is it even there? Ms. Daly also touches on the lack of conversation quality control and editorial errors. This is another big area. In many instances while reading Stieg Larsson’s ebooks, I’ve run across needless errors. It’s jarring when you have to figure stuff like this out: “aretired” when it’s actually this –> “a retired…” for example.

But from what I’ve read online (and correct me if I’m wrong), publishers aren’t really caring about the money they make from ebooks anyway since the high prices are set to be prohibitive. We are told repeatedly that the big six make their money from hardcovers. So will any of this sink in? Make a difference?

Anyway, I highly recommend reading Digital Book World as it has interesting information for readers or ebook readers. It is a most informative blog thus far, that keeps its pulse on the trends and changes and nuances of digital publishing today.


About Keishon

Voracious reader of just about everything.
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9 Responses to Ebook Quality Control

  1. Phyl says:

    I’m so glad to see more conversation about ebook quality. Maybe publishers will finally admit they have a problem. No way am I going to pay higher prices that Macmillan and the others are pushing for.

    I have an ipod Touch with both the Stanza and Kindle apps. I bought Lessons in French via the Kindle store. There was a formatting error regading the letters “fl”. (as in flag, flog, afflict, etc.) Everytime these letters appeared, a space was inserted. (as in f lag, f log, aff lict, etc.) It looked pretty weird to see an “f” at the end of one line and the rest of the word on the next line. And I realized how frequent “fl” appears in the English language. I wrote to Amazon’s customer service and continue to be totally ignored.

  2. Avid Reader says:

    @Phyl: Sorry about the delay for your comment. I am working to see what I can do about that. As for the formatting issue, I thought Amazon refunded readers for formatting errors but I might be wrong. I think as an ebook enthusiast, I can tolerate almost anything but what you described? Uh, no, that would need to be fixed or give me my money back.

  3. Phyl says:

    @Avid Reader: I wanted to read the book too badly to stop. But I do need to follow up with Amazon. Mostly, I’m curious. Did no one else experience the same phenomenon?

    And I’m having an on-going battle commenting on WordPress blogs. I now have an email address for the company that handles the comment software. We’ll see if that gets me anywhere. Thanks!

  4. Avid Reader says:

    @Phyl: I did a check and realized that I bought the Kindle copy of Lessons In French as well so if I see the same formatting issues, I’ll follow up. Nice to see your comment show up finally! Without my assistance. I cringe every time your comment lands in the spam filter.

  5. Renee Rocco says:

    Wonderful post, Avid Reader. I always find it extremely informative when readers post about what they’d like to see when it comes to digital books, as Lyrical Press is a digital-first publisher.

    Frontmatter in digital books, as with print books, tends to be necessary when it comes to copyright, as well as title page and dedication/acknowledgements page. Also, we’ve researched what readers want when it came to frontmatter for digital books. The main complaint we’ve found was a lack of back cover copy (blurb) and highlight (brief excerpt) like what is often found with a print book. Lyrical has added these, so that all a reader needs to do to recall what their digital book is about is to scan the first two pages. We’ve also included a table of contents in our digital books (in all seven formats we offer), so that readers who choose to bypass frontmatter are free to do so by skipping right to Chapter One.

    As a reader myself, I can appreciate you wanting a cover with your digital book. Again, this is something Lyrical Press offers with all their digital formats. We’ve done our best to give readers a complete experience with our digital stock, much like the one they receive when reading a print book – especially since so many readers are still coming around to the new era of digital reading.

    We use specially created software built specifically for Lyrical Press to format our digital books. This software allows our ebooks to be as close to perfect as technology allows for reading, not only on your computer, but handheld reading devices as well.

    Many digital-first/digital-only publishers are, in fact, doing their best to meet the demands of readers, who are the single most important aspect of their business. Without readers, our authors have no one to write for! We are also doing our best to stay ahead – or at least in sync – with the ever-evolving digital world. I hope that the lack of quality you’ve encountered doesn’t spoil it for the rest of us!

    – Renee Rocco
    Publisher, Lyrical Press, Inc.

  6. brooksse says:

    “Lack of covers — most annoying”: I want my covers too. If the color covers don’t matter, why do they use them to sell the ebooks to us in the first place? Why don’t they try using the “actual” ebook cover to sell the ebook; let’s see how well that sells.

    And I’m tired of the argument that “devices don’t support color”. The Kindle doesn’t, the Sony Reader doesn’t, but other devices do. My Reader is not the only place where I view my ebooks. I want to see the covers on whatever software I’m using on my laptop to view my library.

    What I’d like to see is the cover, blurb (back cover copy), and an excerpt at the front of the ebook. I’d be Ok with having the other stuff like copyright, dedication, etc., at the end of the ebook.

    “aretired” vs. “a retired”: I’ve run across this so many times it’s not funny. My other personal favorite is “re- tired” or “re-tired” vs. “retired.”

  7. Avid Reader says:

    Many digital-first/digital-only pub­lish­ers are, in fact, doing their best to meet the demands of read­ers, who are the sin­gle most impor­tant aspect of their busi­ness. With­out read­ers, our authors have no one to write for! We are also doing our best to stay ahead — or at least in sync — with the ever-evolving dig­i­tal world. I hope that the lack of qual­ity you’ve encoun­tered doesn’t spoil it for the rest of us!

    I appreciate publishers who listen to readers. Thanks for taking the time to share what you’ve done to better the e-reading experience for readers who prefer the format. Also, I realize that copyright/acknowledgments must be in the ebook as well but it doesn’t have to be in the front was all I was getting at in a not so clear way. Thanks.

    @brooksse: Forgot about the back blurb – I would love to have it in the front just in case I forgot what the story was about and wanted to refresh my memory. Thanks.

  8. Renee Rocco says:

    You’re so welcome, Avid Reader! We’ll continue to pay attention to reader’s wants.

    – Renee Rocco

  9. Pingback: The Daily Square – Love Woman Edition | Booksquare

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