Lost in Transition

It’s no secret that I’ve done a complete 180 when it comes to e-readers and electronic books.  I went from “They can pry my book from my cold, paper-cut hands” to “Okay, here’s another box of paperbacks to take to the library.”  I’ve got a Nook Color, the Nook AND Kindle apps for my phone, and the Nook program for my PC.  The electronic Kool-Aid has been drunk, and deeply.

So after tearing through all twelve books in The Dresden Files in about three months, I decided to turn to Hyperion by Dan Simmons.  I’ve got the paperback, but I had a Barnes and Noble gift card and figured I’d pick up the electronic version.  Call it redundant, call it wasteful, but I’ve gotten so used to my Nook that it seemed almost silly to carry around that silly, bulky book.  That probably weighs less than my Nook does.

Anyway, about five pages in I came across the first typo.  It was two words run together, and I didn’t pay it too much attention.  Just a momentary pause as I puzzled out what was being said, then I went on.

But then came another one, this time a misspelling.  Then some weird formatting showed up, a paragraph break in mid-sentence.  Then another misspelling.  And another.  Until eventually, on page 99, I ran across this sentence:

“When I found out you were poroipg … well, hell, it got me through the last two years.”

I’m sure Dan Simmons is an inventive author, but I don’t think he’s in the habit of just dropping random words into his prose.  So I went to my paperback copy to find out just what the hell this guy was doing.

Turns out, the word was “coming.”

Now I haven’t done an exhaustive study, but I sure don’t see any reasonable way some sort of accidental transposing of letters can turn “coming” into “poroipg.”  Oh no.  You’ve got to really work for that to happen.  And it’s not like “poroipg” is a real word:  a Google search turned up “Did you mean pooping?” which gives that sentence an entirely new meaning I’m sure Mr. Simmons did not intend.

Is it any wonder the pirates aren’t going away?  When the legitimate product, the one that carries the promise of quality due to that fact that you’re paying for it, is in the kind of shape you’d expect from something emerging from the depths of the Pirate Bay?  It’s almost as if this version was an afterthought, something that was rushed out because, well, everyone else is putting out them there electronic books, we might as well get in on it.

Amazon and Barnes & Noble are already selling more e-books than regular books.  People are obviously embracing the format.  So you’d think the publishers would be eager to meet this demand with a quality product.   Where would iTunes be if their songs skipped and sounded like crap compared to the files floating around on the torrents?  You’ve got to offer something the pirated copies don’t, because not everybody is going to do the right thing simply because it’s the right thing.

Now granted, I’ve purchased plenty of e-books with no problems.  But some have also had typos and formatting issues, so I can’t really call this a one time stroke of bad luck.  The book isn’t even close to being unreadable, and as far as the work itself, I’m enjoying the hell out of it.  But I’m going to cringe with every misspelled word, feel myself pulled out of the story with every stray page break.  Even if I know they’re poroipg.

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