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What's missing with ebooks?

I love my Kindle, and I truly believe ebooks are the long-range future of book publishing, but I feel compelled to point out that publishers are so not there yet when it comes to ebooks. Right now Kindle is the most popular eReader in the US; sales of books in the Kindle store are rising. Publishers are grappling with the pricing models, but there's something they also need to come to grips with first, and that is the "print quality" of their ebooks.

Some of the ebooks I've bought or sampled through the Kindle store had formatting problems I have never seen in print books! It's more of a problem with older books than new ones. Only a couple of times have I had any problems with a recent book. But I'm convinced that when a publisher releases an older book on the Kindle they're not even looking at it!

My annoyance level varies with the price I pay, of course. I don't expect a lot when I convert a free PDF. When I bought an old, way out of print Andre Norton book for $2.00 or so, the formatting glitches were annoying enough that I deleted that copy of book and paid a little more (about $4) for a better copy from a different publisher. But when a publisher (Sourcebooks, I'm talking about YOU!) releases a Kindle version of a Georgette Heyer novel and wants almost $10 for it, I expect good, clean copy! This is not a book that's out of print, so I'm not desperate to get it. I am not paying that kind of money for a book that's a) not a new hardcover, b) by an author who has been dead for decades and c) seriously flawed in that the paragraphs don't indent. Book style calls for paragraphs to indent for a reason— it's hard to read without that! If they had looked at it, they would know that.

I don't know whether it's Amazon's fault or the publishers, but somebody needs to get cracking on this. Maybe Amazon should give every publisher a free Kindle so they can look at their own books? If it weren't for the "Try a free sample" feature, I would be truly steamed, but as it is, I have learned to always look before I buy.





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