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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Apologies in advance if this has already been suggested

This is about spelling mistakes in Kindle Books. There are many of these and it is a widely recognised problem - a quick check on the internet will show just how widespread the problem is. Spelling mistakes detract from the Amazon design objective "...to make Kindle disappear — just like a physical book — so you can get lost in your reading, not the technology". Except that the technology - in this case poor OCR conversion, has done just the opposite, distracts the reader's attention.

So what's the solution. It probably does not lie with the publishers - they do not seem to care. If they did they would have done something about it, by improving transcription quality, by responding to comment, etc.

A solution could lie with Amazon themselves, taking a lead from, for example TomTom who provide a community update service for their maps or Ancestry.com who do the same for online Family Tree data. eBooks could be commented for errors by readers, loaded wirelessly to Amazon using the sync service, and edited/checked by Amazon who update their master copy , thus in time improving the overall quality, readability and marketability of their books.

How exactly this is marketed by Amazon is up to them - perhaps as a subscription service, perhaps as a small supplement on each book sold, perhaps just for free.

Just a thought

 

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There have been lots of discussions about spelling and other formatting errors in Kindle editions.  While it might seem widespread, remember that people rarely post just to say, "I read this book and it didn't have any errors." :)  So you're more likely to have people commenting on problems. . . . which makes it seem a lot more ubiquitous than it really is.

As suggested above, it's not Amazon's responsibility anyway; it's the publisher's -- whether that be one of the big ones or an independent author who is self-publishing.

If you find a book that has errors, it does help, however, to let Amazon know.  There's a feedback link at the bottom of every book page.  There have been reports of people providing feedback as to extensive errors and the book is pulled by Amazon and the publisher has to fix it and re-submit it.  If requested by the publisher, Amazon can then contact anyone who bought the faulty copy and offer a revised copy.

As to WHY such errors occur . . . :eek: Well, in the case of back listed books -- it's very likely that there is no real digital file, or that it's an old format.  It has to be either scanned via OCR or converted to a current format.  In both cases, errors can creep in and if the publisher skips the step of having a real person review the thing, well, they'll stay there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I do not agree that it is not Amazon's responsibility. I paid Amazon for the book, my contract is with them, no other person.

They market the product, they have a responsibility for the quality of the product they sell or distribute. Clearly Amazon recognize this responsibility, as in in extreme cases, they offer revised copies.

What I am suggesting is a community based method of improving the quality of the books we read, and thus the quality of the ebooks in general circulation.
 

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I would imagine the problem should be that of the author. Many of the Kindle versions are selfpublished. I am a reviewer and many times the Author in their haste publishes to Amazon without following protocol. I often receive some of these uncorrected versions and when the author is notified they go back in and fix the issue.The simple spelling mistakes are the worst offense while grammar comes a close second. If you run into this issue, Amazon has been amazingly gracious about refunding your money for a return. Being an author myself, I apologize on behalf of those that work hard at editing their work. I do understand the even traditional publishing works have a few bugs occasionally, but the errors seem to be more on the selfpublished work where the authors do not use and editor.
 

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martinclayden said:
I do not agree that it is not Amazon's responsibility. I paid Amazon for the book, my contract is with them, no other person.

They market the product, they have a responsibility for the quality of the product they sell or distribute. Clearly Amazon recognize this responsibility, as in in extreme cases, they offer revised copies.

What I am suggesting is a community based method of improving the quality of the books we read, and thus the quality of the ebooks in general circulation.
If I buy a camera from Amazon and it's faulty, I may be able to return it to Amazon and get my money back or get it replaced but ultimately, Amazon are not the ones who FIX the fault with the camera. It goes back to the manufacturer - Canon, Nikon, Sony, etc - to get refurbished and resold. The retailer is not responsible for fixing a faulty product - and in this case, it's a matter of copyright laws as well. It would be against the law for Amazon to alter a copyrighted work without permission from the publisher, which they probably wouldn't give.
 

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I have run into a few errors in books I bought and read on the kindle. Though I usually give the writer a heads up when I run into problems, though most of the time it is just typesetting errors, not that big though sometimes annoying.
I think it is both Amazon and the publisher are responsible for the books (publisher can both be the publisher or the author in this case), thuogh I think the publisher/author is responsible for the right product while Amazon is responsible for not offering lesser products.

Although a couple of years ago I read a book that was in it's 14th edition and was still full of spelling errors, it really annoyed me. yeah, 14th edition...
 

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Agree with history_lover.  And, as noted by others. . . .Amazon is exceptionally customer service oriented.  If you buy a book and find the errors too egregious for comfortable reading, just contact them and let them know.  Likely they will refund your money even if it's been more than their advertised 7 day return period. . .which, by the way, is not something any of the other major e-book retailers offer.

And I also KNOW that they've pulled books from major publishers due to complaints about formatting/editing/conversion.  But that's as much as they can do.  There are, no doubt, thousands of new books uploaded daily, and, while I understand there are some automated checks in place -- to make sure people aren't trying to upload something they've not got the rights too -- there's no way they can check every title and still keep prices competitive.  They rely on their customers to let them know when a product they're offering is inferior, and, when they learn that, they deal with it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
"and, when they learn that, they deal with it".

Well that's a key point - the only method for informing Amazon lies on the review section of the web site - as pointed out on another thread.

Which is a pain in the .... It would be so much more straightforward to update the text on the Kindle, have it uploaded to Amazon where it's checked and made available to all. A simple, immediate, quick process.

I agree that copyright issues may well present a significant problem - but again the responsibility for providing high quality products lies with Amazon - how they arrive at that quality is a matter between Amazon and the publishers. I am sure that Amazon carries a certain amount of weight in their discussions / negotiations with publishers - which they should apply to the benefit of all.

Martin
 

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history_lover said:
If I buy a camera from Amazon and it's faulty, I may be able to return it to Amazon and get my money back or get it replaced but ultimately, Amazon are not the ones who FIX the fault with the camera. It goes back to the manufacturer - Canon, Nikon, Sony, etc - to get refurbished and resold. The retailer is not responsible for fixing a faulty product - and in this case, it's a matter of copyright laws as well. It would be against the law for Amazon to alter a copyrighted work without permission from the publisher, which they probably wouldn't give.
This is what I was thinking as well, though in terms of a grocery store analogy. If a customer at Safeway buys a rotten bag of lettuce, then Safeway can refund the customer's money, and perhaps pull the rest of the lettuce they have in stock. But it's not the store's responsibility to go out to the fields and grow the lettuce themselves.
 

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martinclayden said:
"and, when they learn that, they deal with it".

Well that's a key point - the only method for informing Amazon lies on the review section of the web site - as pointed out on another thread.

Which is a pain in the .... It would be so much more straightforward to update the text on the Kindle, have it uploaded to Amazon where it's checked and made available to all. A simple, immediate, quick process.

I agree that copyright issues may well present a significant problem - but again the responsibility for providing high quality products lies with Amazon - how they arrive at that quality is a matter between Amazon and the publishers. I am sure that Amazon carries a certain amount of weight in their discussions / negotiations with publishers - which they should apply to the benefit of all.

Martin
Well, that's actually not true; one can also contact customer service via webform or phone. I know I have contacted CS and had a good response.

As for letting users submit proposed corrections for review, that would be a nightmare and administration would add substantially to the cost of the book. Every nutcase reader with an axe to grind or a pet peeve or a poor grasp of language would be submitting things that would need to be reviewed by staff at Amazon.

Sorry, I think the system in place is working pretty well, I've gotten many updates of books I've purchased.

Betsy
 

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martinclayden said:
I do not agree that it is not Amazon's responsibility. I paid Amazon for the book, my contract is with them, no other person.
Amazon is a distributor, not a publisher in this instance. Expecting quality control is as good as expecting everything in Target to be of the highest standards. It just don't work that way. That's why people rate things and ratings mean so much.
 

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martinclayden said:
I agree that copyright issues may well present a significant problem - but again the responsibility for providing high quality products lies with Amazon - how they arrive at that quality is a matter between Amazon and the publishers.
As with any retailer, Amazon can choose not to sell something because it doesn't reach a certain standard (but that would mean the removal of many ebooks) - but they are not responsible for the production quality of that product and they are not responsible for fixing faulty products. This is a basic concept in the entire retail industry, I'm not sure why you're expecting differently.

I am sure that Amazon carries a certain amount of weight in their discussions / negotiations with publishers - which they should apply to the benefit of all.
Considering Amazon lost the right to set their own ebook prices to the publishers, I doubt they carry that much weight with the publishers.
 

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martinclayden said:
I do not agree that it is not Amazon's responsibility. I paid Amazon for the book, my contract is with them, no other person.

They market the product, they have a responsibility for the quality of the product they sell or distribute. Clearly Amazon recognize this responsibility, as in in extreme cases, they offer revised copies.
If it was the local bookstore selling a paper book full of typos, would you expect the bookstore to fix the errors? Amazon is a bookstore, not a publisher (in most cases.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
KingAl said:
If it was the local bookstore selling a paper book full of typos, would you expect the bookstore to fix the errors? Amazon is a bookstore, not a publisher (in most cases.)
No, but I would expect a product sold to me to be of merchantable quality, to exchange it or refund me if the product does not meet that quality. Exchange / refund is clearly not in Amazon's interest as I am sure they would wish their (well earned) reputation to become damaged by selling poor quality products.
 

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Amazon will refund on any ebook within 7 days of purchase, no questions asked.  They have also refunded past that time period for poorly formatted works.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
history_lover said:
As with any retailer, Amazon can choose not to sell something because it doesn't reach a certain standard (but that would mean the removal of many ebooks) - but they are not responsible for the production quality of that product and they are not responsible for fixing faulty products. This is a basic concept in the entire retail industry, I'm not sure why you're expecting differently.
Agreed - they do not hold direct responsibility for production quality. However (in the UK at least) they are bound by the 1979 Sale of Goods Act which requires goods to be of satisfactory quality which includes freedom from minor defects. The Act also goes on to state that the trader (Amazon), not the manufacturer (publisher) bears the responsibility for refund / replacement.

But this is not about the law - it's about how to fix the errors, that's all
 

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martinclayden said:
Agreed - they do not hold direct responsibility for production quality. However (in the UK at least) they are bound by the 1979 Sale of Goods Act which requires goods to be of satisfactory quality which includes freedom from minor defects. The Act also goes on to state that the trader (Amazon), not the manufacturer (publisher) bears the responsibility for refund / replacement.
Then all you can expect from Amazon is a refund for ebooks with lots of OCR errors (or for them to not sell that ebook to begin with), you can't not expect them to fix the errors.

But this is not about the law - it's about how to fix the errors, that's all
I beg to differ, since if Amazon were to fix the OCR errors, they would be breaking copyright laws.

I'm starting to repeat myself now so if you still don't understand why your expectations are unrealistic, I give up.
 
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