Digital book pricing is all over the place, and different vendors have some books while others don’t, and sometimes when you find them, they’re so expensive you just give up and turn on the tv. Or maybe that’s just me.
But Marilyn wrote to me with a bigger problem: what happens when the ebook you buy is so horrible in its quality, so poorly completed that if it were paper, you’d return it?
Would it help to write to certain publishers about excetionally poor proofreading in e-books? I recently purchased a 2-in-1 book and was stunned to see page after page of errors that looked as if they had been scanned in with a beta version of Omnipage and left without any proofreading. I would like my money back, or at least a newer, proof-read copy of the books.
This is the worst I have ever seen! It is Madeline Hunter’s By Arrangement and By Possession. It is virtually unreadable in its current form.
Here are a few of the more egregious errors:
die = the
ufe = life (multiple times)
ifour = if our
//1 = if
spht = sped
pxmishing = punishing(promising?)
co?TUption = corruption
pan = part
dissieised = ???(some middle english word with which I am unfamiliar)
aim = arm
hospilaUty = hospitality
sofdy = softly
J = I
/ = I
As you can see, there are many and they crop up on almost every page. I might have had an easier time reading this if it had been written in Edwardian English.
Is there any recourse?
My response: I don’t care if the terms and conditions state that ebooks are not returnable. If the book text looks like Elvish had dirty sex in a blender with Urdu and Basque and you paid for it, you should seek some form of return, at the very least for credit.
Unfortunately, there is little recourse with the publisher directly because it’s difficult to find a customer feedback response form on most publisher websites. You can always pen a polite email to the author asking whom she thinks might be the best person to address – but there’s little to say to the publisher. So many things can go wrong – someone didn’t proofread, but who was it that should have done the proofreading? If you’re asking me, the publisher is responsible, but who at the publishing house? As more out of print and older backlist books come back to life as digital scans, more of this type of text error will become more common.
I think you should contact the store you bought the ebook from, and advise them that due to the poor quality of the book, you would like to have a refund for your purchase. If that’s not granted, you can contest the charge on your credit card through your credit card company. Many if not most credit card purchases come with varying forms of consumer protection against poor or faulty quality. A few screen shots of “die hospilaUty / experienced in my ufe contrasted with the pxmishing co?TUption of my death” should make that hideously clear.
I heard back from Marilyn a few days after I sent her my response:
This is an update on your suggestion to contact the author and the seller about my experience with an extremely bad reading experience. I contacted Customer Service at Kindle/Amazon and explained the problem with the book.
This morning I received an email letting me know that they had fully refunded the price of the book and notified the publisher of the problem. I was astonished to say the least.
I would encourage all e-book readers not to suffer in silence. Hopefully enough refunds will eventually get through to the publishers of these below-standard books.
Thank you for your suggestions.
Feel free to use my name in any mention of this experience.
One thing about Amazon and the Kindle, if you contact them with a problem with an ebook, and I have multiple times, they are very quick to respond with refunds.
So what else could be done besides seeking redress from the vendor where you purchased the book, or from the credit card you used to buy it? I have the following humble suggestion for the publishing industry:
Put the name of the copy editor, the editor, and the company who did the ebook conversion on the book itself.
I’m not kidding. Increased transparency=win. The copyright information on the book should not only include the names of the folks who designed the cover, who took the photographs, but also the names of the people who edited the book, who copy edited it, and what firm produced the ebook format conversions. Some publishers already tell you who edited a book – and that is most spiffy. But did you know that on many pirated ebooks, there’s a notation in the front as to which person (by user handle, not real name, of course) scanned the file, which person proofread it, and which person checked it for accuracy. It’s not like you can email SP1derzdanz13 and say, “Dude, you suck,” but more likely than not, the pirated copy with user names listed will be pristine in terms of quality when the same book from a publisher may not. Piracy flourishes, among other reasons, because the legitimate product is poor and the pirated version is better.
If you name names, there’s personal accountability for both the production side and the consumer side – and knowing that someone verified the accuracy of the digital file speaks volumes as to whether that product is valued by the entity producing it. It’s about time the author stopped taking heat for shitty looking ebooks – and well past time that readers knew who to whom they might address their complaints.
In the meantime, if you get a shitty ebook, ask for your money back. Complaining about the prices is one thing, and believe me, I do it. But the idea of paying higher prices for a complete absence of editing and proofreading? Oh, Hell No.
Any pricing model can kiss my ass if the publishing house can’t be bothered to run spellcheck before they publish a file. And I’ll put my name on that statement any time.