Author Topic: Bad Formatting in Kindle Books: List 'Em!  (Read 7428 times)  

Offline CS

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Bad Formatting in Kindle Books: List 'Em!
« on: April 16, 2009, 11:28:56 AM »
I don't think we have a catch-all thread dedicated for this purpose. Something like this could be really useful.

I think we should list the book and a brief synopsis of formatting errors. If we list the nature of the errors, people can decide for themselves if the book is still worth reading despite them (for example, Promises in Death below).

I'll start us off with a couple off the top of my head.

Ring of Hell: Atrocious. Tons of combined words, some sentences are missing words or generally make no sense. Just a total mess. Never fixed (to my knowledge) despite repeated complaints to Amazon, the publishers, and even the author. The publishing company was clueless (they probably don't even have access to a Kindle) and the author never responded (way to show that you care about your work, bub).

Promises in Death: HUGE gaps between paragraphs. Some found this tolerable. I couldn't take it though.



Offline drenee

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Re: Bad Formatting in Kindle Books: List 'Em!
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2009, 11:38:44 AM »
The Tea Rose  Sentences were fragmented, part of a sentence would be on the line below inserted in the middle of the next sentence.  The book got a bit worse towards the end.

One For The Money.  No paragraph indentations.  Not a huge problem, but sometimes I would have to go back and reread a couple of times to get the flow correct.
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Offline Edward C. Patterson

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Re: Bad Formatting in Kindle Books: List 'Em!
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2009, 11:44:07 AM »
Most books from Gutenberg, as Text files, are a mess when they come into the Kindle through your USB connection. However, using mobpocket, you can do some reformatting - or better still, most Gutenberg books are available at www.manybooks.com in an AZW format.

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Offline Ann in Arlington

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Re: Bad Formatting in Kindle Books: List 'Em!
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2009, 11:45:12 AM »
I find the formatting on books from feedbooks to be quite good as well. .  . .

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Offline Steph H

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Re: Bad Formatting in Kindle Books: List 'Em!
« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2009, 12:08:51 PM »
most Gutenberg books are available at www.manybooks.com in an AZW format.

Note that it's www.manybooks.net and not .com. :)

I've actually found www.feedbooks.com to be a better source for those books, because the metadata is better so they show up right on the Kindle.

But that detracts from the purpose of this thread. :D  To get back on topic, I'll add:

A Death at the North Pole by Joel M. Andre, available on Amazon -- lots of errors with line spacing, dropped lines and quite a few spelling errors to boot. The formatting errors made me think of a badly-converted PDF document.  (That said, it was still a fun story and only 99 cents!)
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Offline pidgeon92

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Re: Bad Formatting in Kindle Books: List 'Em!
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2009, 12:11:24 PM »
I was thinking about starting this thread myself.... I mentioned this book in another thread, and this is a part of the review I put on Amazon:

Sleep Toward Heaven
At anything but the smallest font size, this book is almost unreadable. The last word on most lines drops to the next line, and is often the only word on that line.

Every so often the book title is listed in the body of the text, along with a number that I think is the page number. Sometimes it lists the author's name instead.

Wherever there is italicized text there is no space before the first letter of the first italicized word, or the last letter of the last italicized word, so words run together.

Where the sections break into the different women's characters, the first letter of the section is isolated above the first paragraph.

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Offline Edward C. Patterson

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Re: Bad Formatting in Kindle Books: List 'Em!
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2009, 12:15:34 PM »
When poorly formatted books appear, do you report these problems to the author or the publisher? These items are easily corrected (formatting for the Kindle ain't rocket-science), and most autor's are contactable through their profiles. Author's who do not have their electronic rights have no control over their ebook's formats or toerhwise. But if they know that their book is being perceived as illegible, they can squawk to the rights holder to effect changes.

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Offline pidgeon92

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Re: Bad Formatting in Kindle Books: List 'Em!
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2009, 12:47:24 PM »
I sent my feedback directly to Amazon, they replied that they would look into it.
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Offline Edward C. Patterson

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Re: Bad Formatting in Kindle Books: List 'Em!
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2009, 01:23:57 PM »
Pidgeon93:

I'm afraid that Amazon will probably do nothng, because DTP (Digital Text Platform) is self-supporting. They don't even support the authors and publishers who publish on the Kindle. The best route is via the author (who may not even have a Kindle to see what's going on and is blissfully ignorant that there's a problem). I wish I could give you a statistic on how many authors do not own a Kindle, but I'd be flying blind. BUT I'd say that, of the authors I know, and I have over a hundred in my friends list, I'd say a little less than half own a Kindle, and rely on the rest of us to tell them if there's formatting issues. Thankfully, reediting and uploading a new Kindle version is easy and seamless. At one time, reader's could redownload corrected copies or reedited copies, but Amazon discontinued that - but at least new readers of an author's work would get the benefit of old reader's (you now what I mean) feedback and download better or corrected formatting and edited copies. It's funny: Amazon's Kindle customer support is superlative IMHO, but they provide no suppot for the authors ad publishers that's worth a damn. Fortunately, an extra-structure of helpful hands like KreelanWarrior, and WheelmanPress, and Leslie N. (a moderator here) and little ole ME, try when we can and have published helpful materials for both readers and authors.

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Offline pidgeon92

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Re: Bad Formatting in Kindle Books: List 'Em!
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2009, 01:29:37 PM »
Pidgeon93:

I'm afraid that Amazon will probably do nothng, because DTP (Digital Text Platform) is self-supporting.

I don't think this is quite true.... Amazon has pulled several Kindle books due to poor formatting; we've had many posts about it on this board, The Stand being the one that is cited most often.
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Offline Edward C. Patterson

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Re: Bad Formatting in Kindle Books: List 'Em!
« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2009, 01:37:24 PM »
Not quite true, but not quite false. The Stand, for example is by a branded author and is firmly within King's rights since the 1990's when it he reacquired them. King is also working closely with Amazon's marketing team - so any complaint(s) about a poorly formatted, copyrighted book by Stephen King would get Amazon's immediate attention. If you were to report my novel Cutting the Cheese, my first Kindle book, which had some learning curve formatting issues, to Amazon, they would have sent you the form letter and that would have been the end of it. Fortunately, I was a Kindle owner and fellow authors also found these errors. A new copy of Cutting the Cheese was mounted and re-issued within 2 weeks of the original issue. Whew! (Both in paper and on the Kindle - I use CreateSpace - which is also Amazon owned). Of course, Cutting the Cheese had 5 sales in its first 2 months of existance. Now I average over a hundred book sales monthly, and perhaps you're right - Amazon might react differently now, although my year and a half of Kindle selling is still a calm ripple on the Sea Amazonic. lol

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« Last Edit: April 16, 2009, 03:13:52 PM by edwpat »

Offline WalterK

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Re: Bad Formatting in Kindle Books: List 'Em!
« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2009, 01:52:05 PM »


There are formatting errors where the worksheets extend beyond the right margin.  This only occurs in two or possibly three short sections of the book and everything else is rendered correctly; so IMHO - not a big deal on this title.

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Offline Neekeebee

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Re: Bad Formatting in Kindle Books: List 'Em!
« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2009, 11:25:49 PM »
Great thread idea, CS!

Private by Kate Brian
had lots of typos.  It looked like it was scanned from a random paperback copy, b/c there would often be typos like "n" substituted for "ri" or "m" substituted for "in".  I got it back when it was free, though; maybe Amazon has since corrected the errors.

- Paragraphs are not indented.  Setting the Kindle on Full justification helps, but doesn't take care of the problem completely.  The sample I got of the next book in the series has the same problem.

N :)

Offline MonaSW

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Re: Bad Formatting in Kindle Books: List 'Em!
« Reply #13 on: April 20, 2009, 07:06:10 PM »
Promises in Death: HUGE gaps between paragraphs. Some found this tolerable. I couldn't take it though.

The latest Dresden files book, Turn Coat, has this same problem. It also had some other problems (repeated partial sentences for instance). I reported the problems to Amazon, said I did not want a refund because I intended to keep the book, just wanted to be able to get a corrected version when it was available. They gave me a $5 credit!

Hopefully they will get it fixed soon, I was disappointed in the quality of the editing.
 

Offline TM

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Re: Bad Formatting in Kindle Books: List 'Em!
« Reply #14 on: April 20, 2009, 07:19:37 PM »
Great thread idea, CS!

Private by Kate Brian
had lots of typos.  It looked like it was scanned from a random paperback copy, b/c there would often be typos like "n" substituted for "ri" or "m" substituted for "in".  I got it back when it was free, though; maybe Amazon has since corrected the errors.

- Paragraphs are not indented.  Setting the Kindle on Full justification helps, but doesn't take care of the problem completely.  The sample I got of the next book in the series has the same problem.

N :)


If I rember correctly, all of his books are that way. They also have other minor errors.

Offline MikeD

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Re: Bad Formatting in Kindle Books: List 'Em!
« Reply #15 on: April 20, 2009, 11:29:33 PM »
The latest Dresden files book, Turn Coat, has this same problem. It also had some other problems (repeated partial sentences for instance). I reported the problems to Amazon, said I did not want a refund because I intended to keep the book, just wanted to be able to get a corrected version when it was available. They gave me a $5 credit!

Hopefully they will get it fixed soon, I was disappointed in the quality of the editing.

This is true of many of the recent ROC Book publications. It is true of these as well:

   


Offline JimJ

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Re: Bad Formatting in Kindle Books: List 'Em!
« Reply #16 on: April 21, 2009, 01:58:58 AM »
The Local News by Miriam Gershow has some problems with words running together but it doesn't happen often (I just went and skimmed through a few pages and didn't see any, but I know I remember quite a few instances).  Also, when I got the sample, the chapters were labeled wrong.   Chapter one was blank and the text for chapter one appeared under chapter two.  I almost didn't buy it because of this but I did and it was fixed in the purchased version.  The few problems there were was made up for by the fact that the book is excellent.


Offline WilliamM

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Re: Bad Formatting in Kindle Books: List 'Em!
« Reply #17 on: April 21, 2009, 06:41:50 AM »
Ghost Brigades: really bad pararaphing and an overabundance of triple spaces

Lost City Of Z - hyphen crazy

Offline Edward C. Patterson

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Re: Bad Formatting in Kindle Books: List 'Em!
« Reply #18 on: April 21, 2009, 08:38:16 AM »
For authors out there formatting blindly for the Kindle, triple spaces come about because of an extra carriage return. Every carriage return is converted into 2 spaces when converted, so if you double carriage return, you will have a triple space.

Also, abandon the "tab" function in your manuscripts. Tab produce funny indents, errant breaks etc. Use your indents from styles, and your spacing also. The conversion from word to Kindle's AZW is intelligent enough to recognize the style formatting. Better still, convert your manuscripts to mobipocket's PRC format (which is AZW without the DRM). In this way you can see whether your formatting is clean. If you don't perform these conversions but leave it to the electronic rights holder, let them know this. Eventhough the formatting fault can be blamed on the rights holder, ultimately your name is on the cover.

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Offline RoseHawke

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Re: Bad Formatting in Kindle Books: List 'Em!
« Reply #19 on: May 15, 2009, 08:00:37 AM »
Happily I haven't run into too many of these, but just got another one (hence searching for a thread and coming up with this one.)

Bone Crossed - Patricia Briggs   Has many extra lines between paragraphs. I reported it back in February and to the best of my knowledge it has never been fixed.



And the one I just downloaded yesterday, Something Rotten by Jasper Fford. Same Problem, I just reported it, not that it'll do any good.


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Re: Bad Formatting in Kindle Books: List 'Em!
« Reply #20 on: May 15, 2009, 08:54:36 AM »
Happily I haven't run into too many of these, but just got another one (hence searching for a thread and coming up with this one.)

Bone Crossed - Patricia Briggs   Has many extra lines between paragraphs. I reported it back in February and to the best of my knowledge it has never been fixed.

That's the one I find the most.  The other is no paragraph indents. 

My suggestion is to write directly to the author.  Too many reviews citing bad formatting will cut into sales. 


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Offline Geemont

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Re: Bad Formatting in Kindle Books: List 'Em!
« Reply #21 on: May 15, 2009, 09:38:11 AM »
I know some people are tolerate bad formatting, but I think it makes the book difficult to read, and that it is a good cause to yank the book from sale.  Kindle editions of books need the same care, attention, and quality as printed books.  If I were to see the same kind of errors on the self at Borders, there is no way I'd buy the book.  So where do we complain to Amazon?

Extra two or lines between paragraphs:



No indentation for paragraphs:




Double indentation for paragraphs:


Offline Ann in Arlington

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Re: Bad Formatting in Kindle Books: List 'Em!
« Reply #22 on: May 15, 2009, 09:45:32 AM »
Personally, double indentation or extra space between paragraphs (as long as consistently done and not randomly variable) doesn't bother me as much as no paragraph indentation.  I'm finding Uncubicled slow going because of the lack of paragraph indents. 

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Offline Edward C. Patterson

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Re: Bad Formatting in Kindle Books: List 'Em!
« Reply #23 on: May 15, 2009, 09:55:24 AM »
These are such easy things to correct, I don't know why authors don't catch them up front. I won't go into another technical explanation, but styles are our friends, and mobipocket conversion is free. The only thing that irks me (as both reader and author) is the change in the updating policy at Amazon, where corrected copies are not downloaded (upon request) to replace previous copies. That Day One feature was such a boon. Of course, if we catch the error before hand, it's a bit obnoxious to blame Amazon for changing a feature. They weren't thinking of careless formatting by authors when they reverse that policy. This is why authors need to strive to "brand" themselves, so readers have confidence in what they're getting, both in quality and style. Also, once an author strives toward branding, it enforces a natural quality standard that the author must achieve before the work can be called "publishable." It's a responsibility we have for our readership.

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Offline freedotift

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Re: Bad Formatting in Kindle Books: List 'Em!
« Reply #24 on: May 15, 2009, 11:43:56 AM »
Infinity Blues by Ryan Adams.  TINY print.