tom moody

Archive for the ‘egregious e-book errors’ Category

egregious e-book errors: Mariner Books (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

The e-book version of Philip K. Dick's 1964 novel The Penultimate Truth contains this passage from Chapter 2:

bag_plague

"This is how it must feel, he thought, to contract the Bag Plague, where those virtues get in and cause your head to expand until it pops like a blown-up paper bag." Virtues? What does this mean? Virtues make your head explode? Is Dick even a good writer?

The perplexed could track down the Belmont original paperback from 1964. Dick may have been a starving hack then but at least he had editors:

bag_plague_original

This bleakly funny, proto-Cronenberg-esque image of body mayhem in the opening pages of the book sets a tone for the desperate lives of Dick's underground dwellers, crowded into shelters after a nuclear world war. Theirs is not merely a dungeon of claustrophobia and rationing but one with scary new diseases. The word "viruses" is critical and important not to flub so of course the publishers type it as "virtues." This error actually appeared in a paperback edition from 1984 and has been dutifully transcribed in every copy since. Was hoping it would be caught and fixed in the e-book but it appears that Dick's estate, the current publisher, and everyone else involved is on Dick Autopilot, slinging out his books for new generations of non-readers as some kind of empty capitalist ritual.

Here's the Belmont cover:

penultimate_truth_cover

- tom moody

August 17th, 2017 at 5:27 pm

egregious e-book errors: Bloomsbury

The screenshot below is from page 289 of Daniel Albright's book Untwisting the Serpent: Modernism in Music, Literature and the Other Arts (U. of Chicago, 2000).
In the underlined passage he is discussing how music (which is not generally thought of as having a "surrealist" period) could be considered surreal. One of the questions he poses (on page 288) is "Why does surrealist music sound fairly normal, when surrealist painting seems to outrage the eye so flagrantly?" Albright suggests that the music could be normal to the ear but not normal in meaning, because the composer has "tilted its semantic planes," for example, in musical theatre, by having the music emanate from a place or context it's not normally associated with, or in the case of Poulenc, through "surrealizing misquotations" of other people's music:

albright_untwisting

Jonathan D. Kramer's Postmodern Music, Postmodern Listening (Bloomsbury, 2016), is generally sympathetic to Albright's ideas on musical surrealism, although Kramer would prefer the term "postmodernist" to describe the same works. Nevertheless, in explaining Albright, the book flubs that key phrase (screenshot from "Chapter 9.2. -- Music in the Time of Surrealism"):

kramer_albright

This same error may well be in the print version of Kramer's book -- I haven't checked. It may also be a problem of working with a posthumous text (editor Robert Carl rescued the project from Kramer's computer after he died). Regardless, it's a shame to have a book that is sympathetic to Albright's intriguing theories on music miss such a pivotal, well-turned phrase. Here's hoping it can still be corrected.

- tom moody

August 5th, 2017 at 5:53 pm

egregious e-book errors: Routledge

From David Walley, Teenage Nervous Breakdown, 2d edition, Published in 2006 by Routledge, © 2006 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
The e-book retails for $24.69.

rocfe

(page 78 of the e-book)

For a few seconds you could be forgiven for thinking there was a form of art-rock you missed called "rocfe." The word was supposed to be "rock."
It appears again later in the book: "Along with the new paradigms for sexual behavior came an inordinate amount of discussion about sexism in rocfe music among the females who’d formerly been the objects of lust and/or veneration, love or repulsion, but really (as always) approach and avoidance among the men." (e-book, page 373)

Walley's book is practically unreadable for a different reason: intermittently throughout the book the letter "k" is scanned as "b" -- this error occurs dozens of times. Thus you have "boob" for "book," "the bids" for "the kids" -- it's nerve-wracking to beep encountering these mistakes. Yes, "keep" appears as "beep" eight times in the text. Possibly these are mistakes that an algorithm doesn't catch because they aren't misspellings, just the wrong words. Thank you, Routledge.

- tom moody

July 15th, 2017 at 2:00 pm

egregious e-book errors: Pickle Partners Publishing

Have been spending quite a bit of time reading e-books lately, and the quality is pretty horrendous overall.

Main errors:
Typographical errors
Layout/formatting glitches
Lack of font uniformity
Poor handling of illustrations and "special characters" such as math symbols.

Main reasons for errors:
Widespread use of OCR (supposed "smart" character recognition within a scanned text) without subsequent human proofreaders
Conversion mistakes (changing one electronic format to another)
Lack of uniformity in fonts and word-processing applications
Change of corporate culture from giving-a-shit to laying-off-and-praying

I'm trying mostly to read .epub books and avoid Amazon/Kindle but occasionally I still have to resort to Kindle/mobi/azw and the situation is no better. Surprisingly, I've found public domain works from Feedbooks.com to be of better quality than many offerings from "respectable" mainstream publishers, although there are no guarantees.
This will be a series of blog posts (I hope) that document egregious e-book errors.
Let's start with a doozy, from Richard Ellman's Yeats, The Man and the Masks, 1948, e-book (c) 2016 by Pickle Partners Publishing. Ellmann is discussing an early draft of the poem that became "To his Heart, bidding that it have no Fear" (1896):

ellmann1
ellmann2

Astonishing, indeed. The word is supposed to be "part" -- only a demon would introduce such an error into such a lovely poem.
Also, note the weirdly italicized third line -- the text is supposed to be in italics from that line to the end. Pickle Partners, get thee hence to the typesetters.

- tom moody

July 15th, 2017 at 1:26 pm