Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Chesterton's brother and Kindle formatting

By chance I recently came across a book about G K Chesterton, the famous early 20th century writer.
I have some 36 of his titles on my shelves, in paperback and hardcover, and a few more on Kindle.

The book was written by Chesterton's brother, Cecil, although when it was first published his name didn't appear on the cover. It's entitled, G K Chesterton: a Criticism, and looks at the early period of GKC's writing life, when he was still establishing himself, and then suddenly becoming well-known everywhere.

I began to read it a few days ago, and it's good, but the Kindle edition has more errors in it than all the other hundreds of ebooks I've read put together. It's been scanned from an old library copy - the library details have been scanned into the book, in fact, along with the due dates! But no one has bothered to check it whether the scan was accurate. Apart from typos, there are innumerable formatting problems.

Normally when you find a typo or formatting issue, or some other error in a Kindle edition, you have the option to inform the publisher. You can see how to do that here, if you're not sure. I began to do it as I was reading this book, but because of the sheer number of problems, I gave up.

Here are some of the errors I found:

1. Letters that were in a different font at the beginning of a chapter, or section, in the original edition, not only appear as garbage in the Kindle version, but the original capitalized letter may turn up several Kindle pages further on. (It took me a while to cotton onto this.)

2. Whenever poetry is quoted, there are additional lines between the original lines, and in one case towards the end, the rest of the ordinary text has turned itself into 'verse.'

3. Quotation marks are random, sometimes appearing, sometimes not. Sometimes they're replaced by asterisks, or some other punctuation sign.

4. There are large chunks of white space where you'd just expect the next line in the paragraph. In one case there's almost a whole blank Kindle page between sentences.

5. Sometimes after a break in the lines, the next section becomes incomprehensible, as though there were actually some words missing from the text.

That may not be everything. As I said, it became impossible to keep on informing the publisher - Amazon Digital Services LLC, apparently - about each and every mistake. There would be at least one per page, if not several.

The only surprise is that I managed to read the book completely, in spite of all the errors! The Kindle version isn't expensive to buy at $3.30 US, but since I'm expected, as an Indie Author on Kindle, to provide a quality typo-free, well-formatted copy for Amazon to work with, it seems only fair that Amazon themselves should provide something much better than this.

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