The word is spelt correctly less than an inch away from the error.
They're not even consistent errors! Aaaargh!

I love reading. I have been doing it for years, and if you have, too, you'll be aware that books have always had misprintings and errata. I accept this, as most people do.

Actually, no, scrap that: I don't. The only job of the people who print books is to print books. If they can't even do that right, what the hell are they for? 

Anyway, it's bad enough in a print copy, but I am willing to concede that since we are not infallible, these things will inevitably happen. Machines only do what we tell them, and humans are flawed - you can tell this by the simple fact that we require machines. So, books have errors. Fine.

But in a digital version, I somehow expected that mistakes would be easier to find and fix. At the very least, I would expect Publisher A, when deciding to branch out into the ebook realm, would be able to produce a volume that has, at most, the same number of errors that their paper copy has. Alas, no.

Very no.

The worst examples I have found are in the Wheel of Time, a series I love, but which has always been plagued with these problems. This is something that happens far too often with scifi and fantasy, and I have no idea why. If ever there was a group of people more willing to pore over things and point out the minute mistakes and inconsistencies than scifi/fantasy geeks, then it's news to me. Of course, that could be the point; part of being a nitpicky geek is enjoying the nitpicking process. Perhaps they are doing it because they love us!

The thing is, it is painfully clear that these ebooks have been created by the ludicrous expedient of scanning. There are numerous errors that no human whose first language is English would ever make, but which a computer scanning a page of serif would - errors in which two letters run together to look like another, for example.

Well, this one's fair enough. Everyone's heard of the eight comers.

So what can we deduce from this?

  1. Since "comer" and "hyena" are actually English words, and I have been unable to find any words that are mispelled in such a way as to make them NOT English words, we can conclude that they run the book through a spellchecker.
  2. The probability of the word "hyena" appearing capitalized is fairly minimal unless it is the first word in a sentence, and the chances are vanishingly small that in such a case it would not be in the plural, so we can conclude that the spellcheck was case-insensitive. This is what we call lazy.
  3. They did not even hire someone to have a cursory glance at the thing before they gave the OK for it to be published. Tell me that you wouldn't have at least noticed "Hyena". In the name of all that is holy, there are thousands of fans who would probably do it for free - I know I would. But I am now in the ludicrous position of not being able to correct these errors and publish a corrected version, because it would be a breach of copyright.

The worst part is that the most obvious advantage of an ebook - you know, the fact that it is digital and therefore easily altered - is completely overlooked by everyone. Here's an idea for a crazy model:

  • Release the error-littered piece of crap.
  • Set up a webpage for users to submit corrections for whatever errors they find.
  • Hire one person whose job is to check the submissions after a certain period.
  • Correct any errors found to be verifiable, and rerelease the book.
  • Offer free updates to anyone who has already purchased the book.

On second thoughts, let's just, you know, not.

Ah, well. At least they sometimes make me smile.

Somehow it's even better once you know the meaning.

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