Text quality of free books

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Text quality of free books

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1shelfoflisa
maj 17, 2011, 7:04am

Hi,
I'm thinking of getting a Kindle, particularly as I often like to read classic/victorian literature, which is usually free or very cheap. But I'm wondering what the quality of the text is like, as I've heard there can be lots of mistakes. Has anyone experienced this?
Thanks!
Lisa

2DocWood
maj 17, 2011, 7:35am

The quality can be absolutely hideous, or merely annoying. But it can be a problem with for-pay books, too. The technology is, um, emerging.

Some books you can see a sample first, for free; I'd suggest downloading Kindle for PC (it's free!) and trying a couple of free books/book samples to see what your experience will be.

I wouldn't buy a Kindle just for free books. I bought mine (or rather, whined until I received it as a gift!) for the ability to adjust font size to my old eyes, for the portability, because I can purchase an e-book wirelessly and have it in my hands instantly, and because my house was already stuffed to the rafters with physical books. The relatively inexpensive e-books were certainly a consideration, but only one of many.

3shelfoflisa
maj 23, 2011, 7:27am

Thanks for the tip - didn't realise how easy it would be to download them onto my pc, so I've got some off my wishlist to look at. Quality doesn't seem too bad, though sometimes there is text underlined with the word 'highlight' - I don't know if that is something which can be removed, or if it means that the text in question could be wrong.
I wouldn't be getting one just for free books, I'd have a mixture of some paid for, and a load of free ones, but it would give me more options for reading on the train/holiday (instead of having to leave the 'doorstop' books to read at home).

4CDVicarage
maj 23, 2011, 8:08am

I have a Kindle and have mostly free books on it. I have used Project Gutenberg, Amazon and MobileRead to download books. I download to my computer and use Calibre (a free download) to manage the resulting library. Yes, there are proofing errors, but I've never found anything so bad as to be unreadable, and usually much better.

Lately I've noticed that modern (paper) reprints of out of copyright books (not print-on-demand but fairly short runs) have more typos than I would expect. Presumably that's where costs are being cut these days.

5AngelaB86
maj 23, 2011, 11:09am

I generally assume a free/cheap book from Mobi is going to be at least decent quality. Also, if someone has taken the time to add a lot of info to the description field, it's an indicator of how much effort was put into the ebook itself (these are guidelines, not hard rules). I think there's a way to turn off the highlight thing, although I haven't tried it; it's a new feature where you can see what other readers thought was notable.

6xenchu
jun 1, 2011, 4:44am

I have found that on Amazon that a book that has more customer reviews is usually a better book. That seems to hold for both free and pay books. YMMV, of course, but as a general rule it works for me.

7xenchu
jun 6, 2011, 4:29pm

Anytime I review an ebook these days I always comment on format, grammar, and spelling. I do this both to inform other potential buyers of any problems and to encourage authors and publishers to do the editing required for an book.

Publishers need to realize that ebook editing requires more than a spellcheck. Someone ( an editor?) should actually read the damned thing in the form in which it is to be sold. Especially if it's *my* money we are talking about.

8Gordopolis
jun 26, 2011, 1:48pm

Some of the paid for books I have bought have been atrocious. Even if they are only 79 cents or something. I got one on the art of debate; it was 17 pages long, seemingly written by a two year old and clearly just a scrape from a few websites.

When I published my book, I spent long months proofing and re-proofing for formatting, typos etc etc etc. There will always be a couple that sneak in there, especially if you're an indie author/publisher like me, but there's no excuse for firing something out there that is not your best effort. In some ways I wonder whether I should increase the price of my book in order to reassure potential buyers that it is not a poorly formatted braindump!

9krazy4katz
jun 26, 2011, 10:26pm

I find the best free books are from MobileRead.com or Feedbooks.com. They have been proofread. Mobileread has a catalog that you can download to your kindle. You can update it every week. Then you can download the books directly to your kindle. Feedbooks used to have a catalog, but they got rid of it because it was so difficult to maintain.

I don't think Amazon proofreads the out-of-copyright books that it offers. If they are from Gutenberg, the formatting and proofing are not as good as mobileread and feedbooks.

Happy reading!

k4k

10Gordopolis
jul 10, 2011, 7:01am

Just to update, I recently read 'An Antartic Mystery' by Jules Verne. It was a Guttenberg job. It was riddled with typos but you know what - the quality of the storytelling shone through (and of course it was free).

I think it is when you get a pile of poorly thought out rubbish thrown on a page AND it's not proof read, that's when you feel miffed.

12Lcanon
aug 16, 2011, 11:13pm

I recently downloaded My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin. The optical scanner consistently rendered the word "eat" as "cat" ("sit down and cat".) Even better, the word "seat" became "scat" and people were constantly being offered "the best scat in the house," "the scat of honor," etc.

I'm not complaining, it kind of livened up the book...

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