Typos, Typos, Typos – Why Are There So Many Typos In Ebooks?

I am beginning to get really fed up with the lousy preparation that self-publishing authors seem to consider adequate for their ebooks.   Since acquiring my first ereader, I have made a point of reading ebooks by unknown authors as much as ebooks by established writers and whilst there have always been a fair number of typos in many of the ebooks I read, this seems to be getting worse and worse lately.

I am currently reading a Sci-Fi ebook from Amazon, called The Last Praetorian, by Mike Smith, which as a story is quite reasonable, but it is a mess… on every page there will be at least one, and frequently many typos and grammatical mistakes.  The use of “There” in place of “Their”, “To” instead of “Too”, “Fine Toothcomb” instead of “Fine-Tooth Comb” and many, many more.   Words are missing, tenses are incorrect, even entire paragraphs are repeated.   “Explicit” instead of “Implicit” and the list goes on and on.   The author of this ebook  is obviously a man with quite a broad vocabulary to judge by the words he chooses to use, which makes it all the stranger that he has seemingly written the book, and then published it without actually proof reading the thing.

It is this apparent lack of pride in their work which puzzles me the most about these error ridden ebooks.  If the author is verging on illiteracy, as some patently are, I can understand it, even if I find it hard to forgive, but when an author is capable of using words of more than one syllable and still puts a product onto the market that is riddled with such faults I find it hard to understand the reason.

In the days when publishers stood between us and our books, typos occurred, but reasonably rarely.  All books went through a lengthy process of editing and controls before being printed, but now, with the advent of sites such as Smashwords, Amazon et.al we have a totally free market, and there is no pressure any more from publishers to their authors to ensure that the final product is up to scratch – which is a great pity, as an ebook with too many typos is no pleasure to read, no matter how good the actual characterisation and story may be.

Frankly I get the impression that a lot of self-publishing authors simply hammer away at their keyboards, and when they reach the end of the story, they simply let their spelling checker go to work, and blindly accept whatever it suggests, thus “to” in place of “too”.  Both are correctly spelt, but obviously have completely different meanings.

I take trouble with this blog to try and avoid spelling mistakes, and as much as possible to ensure that the syntax isn’t too full of horrible mistakes as well.  It is a simple matter of pride.  My name is attached to what I write, and I have no ambitions to appear to be an illiterate idiot..   Something that apparently doesn’t worry many contemporary writers of ebooks.

So come on guys, call back your ebooks from Smashwords, Amazon, iBooks and all those places, and go through them with your “fine Toothcomb” and make them readable.   After all, you have worked damned hard to write your ebooks, so the least you can do is ensure that it is technically of such a standard that we can read your immortal prose with pleasure, rather than increasing irritation, which in my case at least, sooner or later leads to me abandoning my attempts to read your ebooks.

Small note:

The various ebooks I have reviewed on my blog happily were not typical of this trend, and were almost completely free of such egregious errors, so there are self-publishing writters out there who do take the trouble to produce ebooks to a high standard of technical excellence.

Share with us:

What are your feelings about this problem?   Are you OK with it on the basis that the ebooks you get from such self-publishers are either free or very cheap, and thus you accept bad quality control?  Or do you agree with me that no matter what you pay for an ebook, you should expect a reasonably well checked product?

2 thoughts on “Typos, Typos, Typos – Why Are There So Many Typos In Ebooks?

  1. Richard Adin

    Welcome to my high horse, Tony. Worth reading is this article in The Economist (http://tinyurl.com/cuykm26) regarding higher education in which it states: “For example, a federal survey showed that the literacy of college-educated citizens declined between 1992 and 2003. Only a quarter were deemed proficient, defined as “using printed and written information to function in society, to achieve one’s goals and to develop one’s knowledge and potential”. Almost a third of students these days do not take any courses that involve more than 40 pages of reading over an entire term. Moreover, students are spending measurably less time studying and more on recreation. “Workload management”, however, is studied with enthusiasm—students share online tips about “blow off” classes (those which can be avoided with no damage to grades) and which teachers are the easiest-going.”

    Is it any wonder why there are illiterate authors?

    1. Tony Post author

      Sadly it seems the same sort of depressing figures apply to Britain as well.
      And the ultimate place to go if you want to really get depressed about the level of literacy in our world is the comments section after any news item on Yahoo. I shall read that Economist article after work today… Thanks for the link


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