Why Are E-Books So Poorly Proofed?

Why Are E-Books So Poorly Proofed?

As well as being handy and portable for consumers, e-books should be easy for publishers to produce: after all, there’s no physical copies to worry about. However, it seems that in some cases, major errors are being introduced in the process of e-book production.

The MacOldie blog discusses how a recently-published e-book edition of Ruth Rendell‘s The Monster In The Box is absolutely littered with typos and mistakes. While Rendell is a UK author, meaning some spellings are likely to get changed in the production of a US edition, that seems no excuse for the litany of errors found in the Kindle version:

A keen US Rendell fan might be tempted to pay a visit to some of the locations mentioned in the book. Arrival at Stinted Airport (Stansted) is essential, followed by a visit to the nearby and much-oppressed town of Taxed (Thaxted). Further afield, he might be tempted to visit New Quay or Dollish (Dawlish), Lime Regis (Lyme Regis), or Sutton Cold Field (Sutton Coldfield), one of the pushest (poshest) parts of Birmingham. While in London, a visit to Wands Worth or Kingsbury, NEW (NW9) could be worthwhile. For transport, he could use a German car such as a VOW or a Mercy and should certainly remember to park close to the kern at all times

In an ideal world, producing an e-book should require little more than slight reprocessing of existing digital files, but that’s clearly not what’s happened here. Have you encountered similar problems in your own e-book adventures? Tell all in the comments.

Random House of Horrors: another disgusting ebook [MacOldie]


  • Nintendo flips books also has heaps of proofing problem. The big problem is these books are marketed as to help your kids get into reading.

  • My copy of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s “Death By Black Hole” on Kindle is actually missing the first letter of every chapter.

    I suspect it’s one of those oversized letters, but even text-to-speech looks at a word that’s supposed to be “My” and reads it as “y”.

    Not a terrible typo, but seeing as it’s on every chapter, an annoying one.

  • Publishers are yet to integrate the production of ebooks with that of their dead tree books. So rather than using a well-proofed, edited version of the text (used for the dead tree edition), they’re dashing ebooks out as an afterthought – running an auto-spellcheck on a text file and hitting “save”.

  • I made a comment on my Tumblr this morning to exactly this effect – it was aimed, however, at books written by bloggers specifically for the eBook market.
    I’m shocked at how many errors I’ve found in each of those that I’ve purchased. They are small, but they make absorbing the information in these non-fiction books difficult.
    There seems to be a gaping hole in the whole process.

  • It’s because they’re scanning hard copy books and then, using text recognition software to save it into software. No recog’ software has a 100% success rate. You still need to have human eye’s examine every single word since spell checkers don’t pick up everything either.

  • Welcome to the New Generation, you know, the ones that said spelling and grammar were overrated because there was always SpellCheck available…

  • Non-existent proofing is doing my head in with the kindle books I’ve bought since buying a device a couple of months back. One book (recent bestseller) The Adventures of Edgar Sawtelle had over 300 typos, where the OCR software they’d obviously used was misreading words starting with ‘Fl’ as ‘F’, therefore every mention of a ‘floor’ was written as ‘foor’ etc. Many of the resultant words were not even other English words, so obviously no spell checking had been done on the file at all.

  • In my copy of Anne Rivers Siddons’ ‘The House Next Door’, there are entire chapters that are duplicated. Quite frustrating when I expected a longer read and had to page through the already read chapter.

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