Wednesday, 21 August 2013

09:41 – I shipped the first half of the virtual school AP Chemistry kit order this morning, a week before the promised ship date. That was 40 kits for the lab component of their AP Chemistry A course. Now we need to get 40 AP Chemistry B kits built and shipped. I gave them an estimated ship date for those of 6 September, but we’re going to try to beat that by at least a week as well.

Abby is stopping over today to show me some sketches of ideas for a logo and handout sheet. Of course, Colin will think she’s come to visit him.


12:58 – I download a lot of free Kindle books from Amazon, who frequently sends me emails like this:

Hello Robert B Thompson,

An updated version of your past Kindle purchase of Misplaced Loyalty (Meredith & Hodge Novels) by Marcia Turner is now available.

The updated version contains the following changes:

–Improved formatting for readability.
–Significant editorial changes have been made.

You can receive the improved versions of all your books by opting in to receive book updates automatically. You can do this by going to Manage Your Kindle at http://amazon.com/MYKupdate and clicking on the Manage Your Devices section. You will find the option labeled Automatic Book Update.

Alternatively, you can get the updated version of this book by going to Manage Your Kindle. Find the book in your Kindle Library, click on the “Update Available” link next to the book’s title, and then follow the update prompts. All your devices that have the eBook currently downloaded will be updated automatically the next time they connect to wireless.

Amazon is missing the point. I don’t want an option to auto-update titles like this; I want the option to auto-delete them from my Amazon library, along with everything else by that author. If the author didn’t care enough to get it right in the first place, I have no desire to read an updated version of the book, or indeed anything else by that author. There is no excuse for publishing a book riddled with typos, formatting issues, poor grammar, nonsensical plots, and other errors. If the author is too lazy or too sloppy to get it right prior to pushing the Publish button, why would I waste any time on anything else that author has done?

A few typos, sure. I’d bet there’s never been a book-length manuscript published that didn’t have at least one error. But that’s not what Amazon is talking about here. Many free books, and not a few of the commercially-published ones, are rampant with typos, horrendous formatting problems, and other errors. Several I’ve seen are so bad that it’s almost certain that neither the author nor anyone else ever even bothered to load the book on a Kindle and page through it.

8 thoughts on “Wednesday, 21 August 2013”

  1. Not all Kindle ebooks are made by the author. I’ve picked up Ray Bradbury ebooks riddled with typos that the original print version didn’t have. In many cases (most?) you can put the blame on the editor and publisher.

    Otherwise, with free books you often get what you pay for.

  2. Wow, the Lavabit shutdown is having repercussions as Grocklaw is now shutting down (nod to Jerry Pournelle):
    http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20130818120421175

    And the NSA is monitoring all of our internet conversations, be they email, chat or many other mediums:
    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_NSA_SURVEILLANCE?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2013-08-21-15-07-51

    I knew that they were watching us, I just did not realize how casually that they were doing it. I actually thought that they had a warrant from a judge for any conversation that they monitored. Silly me!

  3. I saw the groklaw news earlier elsewhere and now again here; I had understood a good while back that its creator and prime mover had announced she was going to close it anyway and “retire” from running it. So I dunno what all the latest fuss is about.

    The “official” story on the NSA monitoring everything, from none other than NY rep Peter King, is that the trillions of pieces of data anyone looks at contain nothing more than what we see on our telephone bills and he trusts the head of the NSA to be doing the right thing. Well with that, naturally my mind is now at rest and I can sleep easy tonight.

    A young whippersnapper on another site advised me that there is no way on earth that Windows can be secured, no matter what I do to it, because the NSA has a backdoor key as part of the o.s. and of course proprietary, etc., and HE knows that to do because he runs Windows 7 as a vm on a Linux Mint host and watches his packet sniffer and laughs at all the morons who try to hack him. I, of course, dropped to my knees, stunned and amazes at this wondrous tale of IT genius.

  4. Peter King? The IRA supporting Republican Congresscritter? Damn him.

    I’d love to get on top of the IDS stuff, but have never put the time in to playing around with it. Do people still use SNORT nowadays? Once I’ve settled in my new place I might try and get in to this stuff.

  5. Regarding problems with Kindle books…

    I’ve got some of Amanda Hocking’s paranormal/romance books, I think you recommended her more than the books themselves.

    I like them but they do suffer from some grammatical errors and slips that indicate to me that she or an editor didn’t thoroughly proofread the book, at least in Kindle format. On one occasion a sentence just finished in mid air, it looked obviously wrong. There were some other slips, but I’ve bought some of her later works because overall I like them.

  6. Actually, I never recommended Amanda Hocking because I’ve never read any of her books.

  7. Authors who upload to Amazon for the Kindle bookstore don’t see exactly how the book will look to the buyer. As part of the upload process they can see a preview of the generated book, but the preview doesn’t look quite like the actual purchased Kindle version. Sure, that wouldn’t excuse typos and grammos, but it could explain formatting oddities: the author can’t be quite sure how buyers will see it unless he purchases a copy of his own book. Yes, that would be a reasonable investment, but it’s counter-intuitive.

    Smashwords, by contrast, lets the author grab a copy of all of his own books, it all formats in which they’re available, for free.

  8. Of course the author can tell. Amazon’s formats are simply .mobi with a DRM wrapper. Any author can format the book as .mobi using readily-available tools and load it onto a real Kindle to check it.

    And, if they want to be absolutely sure, they can, as you say, simply purchase it. Given that most are in the 70% royalty category, it costs them under a buck to verify.

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