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Three books but not really - Qualified Perceptions
Three books but not really
So, I've been reading a lot of ebooks recently. I vaguely think that I shouldn't have abandoned paper books so thoroughly (especially when I still have so many of them I haven't read), so it seems like karmic thwackback that the last three I have read have had irritating or eccentric formatting issues. I mean, I get that formatting for Kindle is not trivial, you can't just stuff your hardback into a machine and have it rendered down into pixels. But, especially for a professional publishing company, it seems really too lame to not bother to have something like an editing pass on the electronic side. It's been a long time since I fixated on typesetting glitches in a paper book.

The first one, I actually couldn't finish. I wasn't really getting into the book, but the formatting issues were the straw that finally drove me away. Not shown here, but there were a lot of places where there were missing spaces in italics. Not like LaTeX, which has that extra small space between the end of italics and the start of roman, because it measures space by the bottom of the letter - this was just outright no spaces at all, two italics words jammed up next to each other. I might see that if you were reading the text in HTML and it all looked like
so you could see the words and not notice that there were no breaks. But if you're proofing the text looking like that, that's a problem of its own!

The next issue was, there were rarely any breaks between scenes. Often it was more or less clear, because you would switch people and locations, but sometimes it would take a paragraph before I realized we had just switched. I was surprised how much this infuriated me. Here's the most egregious example, which changes the scene in the middle of dialogue:

The next one, I liked the book, but inexplicably, a lot of the "i"s (and very few of the "j"s were dotless). No, I don't mean in ligatures, those are pretty much transparent at this point in my reading career. I mean in things like this:
A lot of them are after a lower case letter "l" - but not all of them. And not everything after an l is dotless. I spent a lot of energy trying to figure out the pattern (more often in the first line of a chapter, more often after an l...), or if the dotless-i-words spelled out some message (I don't think they did, alas).

The final one, I am willng to give a little bit of a break to, because it's not a big-name professional publisher, but it's actually a little mystifying, because I'm not even sure what glyph is missing here - it's some sort of space? A negative space? I'm don't even know.
I suppose I should comment on the contents of these books at some point, but the formatting! It burns!

Current Mood: aggravated exasperated

7 comments or Leave a comment
astra_nomer From: astra_nomer Date: August 26th, 2012 05:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Not that dead-tree format books are immune from stupid formatting errors. I once read a book that looked like it was a bad OCR of print copy. 0 for O, 1 for l, commas for periods, that sort of thing. Little stupid things, but as they accumulated, the more irritated I got with the book.
ricedog From: ricedog Date: August 26th, 2012 07:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
The bedroom-dancing thing could be an artistic choice by the writer. I've seen other books with no scene breaks, but maybe those authors had more skill.
remcat From: remcat Date: August 26th, 2012 08:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
I bought (bought!) a Kindle version of a book I really liked that was out of (paper) print. It had clearly been scanned in and never really proofed -- in many places the letters "rn" had been interpreted by the scan-to-text as the letter "m."

Sadly, this was a story about the fires in the Cathedral in London during the Blitz -- so all the things that were "burning" were actually "buming." I found it terribly distracting.
nakor From: nakor Date: August 28th, 2012 03:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Same problem with one of the Malazan books. It took me until the sequel to discover that the quite reasonably named Tom was much creepier than I'd thought.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: August 28th, 2012 03:46 am (UTC) (Link)
That's like the post I made that dpolicar read as about porn porns.
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: August 27th, 2012 03:09 am (UTC) (Link)
It might be worth dropping the author a note suggesting that they either look at the problem, or take it up with their agent or publisher or other appropriate party, depending on whether they handle their own ebooks or have someone else do so on their behalf.

I'm going to guess the boxes around the ellipsis were holding the equivalent of non-breaking spaces.

If the dotted and dotless i's spelled out some sort of message, that'd be awesome!
mathhobbit From: mathhobbit Date: August 27th, 2012 01:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
*hug* It will be better soon.
7 comments or Leave a comment