shame.jpgRich Adin has started his Hall of Shame, to highlight the poor state of editing of so many ebooks.

He asks that you email to him the book title, author, problem, and samples of errors, among other information. Please email these at Rich’s site, not TeleRead. He asks that you send info to hallofshame[at]

As Rich says: By spreading the word about poor editing and formatting, readers will become knowledgable consumers and speak with their wallets, declining to purchase inferior quality books, thereby shaming publishers into fixing them. Should a publisher undertake to fix a book’s problems, that, too, will be noted, assuming the publisher lets us know.

You can read more details about the project here.


  1. @David

    If they are going to insist on pricing them as they do now then they should at least do something as simple as run a spell check on them. I can’t count the number of books I’ve bought from major publishers that are riddled with errant hyphens, ligature problems and just plain spelling errors. Many of which a spell check would fix (I fixed them myself in some cases doing exactly that).

    I know some think prices on DRM’d books should be no more than a buck or two. I’d be happy if they’d just quit trying to charge double what they do for the same book in paper.

  2. @David —

    I think there needs to be a balance between quality and price. I have always been willing to pay a fair price for a quality book but get upset when I pay $25 for a book that is riddled with poor editing and formatting. A good example is Truman & MacArthur by Michael Pearlman, which I reviewed at my blog (see Truman & MacArthur & Why a Good Editor is Important at I had no problem paying the $30 price UNTIL I tried to read the book. What a nightmare.

    I’m personally not of the group who demands low pricing on ebooks; I am, however, of the group who demands that the ebook be well-edited and formatted and that it be portable at least for as long as it is under copyright. I have no object to DRM as long as whatever scheme is used will let me access the book I bought today on the device I use 20 years from now.

  3. I agree with you both, it just puts the publisher in a tough spot, as they’re being attacked from both sides–spend more and increase quality while reducing prices at the same time is difficult to reconcile. I think many of the problems come from the lack of standard file formats for eBooks, with less attention paid to the wide variety of filetypes produced than one could spend on a standard format. Also, much conversion is done outside of the publishers by the sellers of those file formats.
    A good piece here on the costs involved:

  4. @David
    Might it not be a fair time for customers and readers to raise the volume on quality and value issues as ebook prices are going up pretty substantially? And while the link you provided is kind of interesting, it contains no delineation of actual costs (or even percentages) and covers lots of expenses that don’t apply to most of the ebooks in Rich’s list (backlist titles edited, copy-edited, printed and sold in print versions years ago).

    What kind of business strategy is it to release shoddy and mistake-ridden products and then complain that customers aren’t paying enough? Seems kind of self-defeating. I have never heard a game publisher like Electronic Arts, for example, complaining that it costs some money to translate their top console and PC programs into much cheaper iPhone apps and therefore consumers should just live with lots of crashes and bugs. Instead, apologies are issued and updates quickly forthcoming.

    And where is the contradiction? So many, many consumer goods, from cars to TV sets to movies for home viewing to video games to email programs, have gotten better and cheaper.

  5. @Aaron, I think you’re dead right in that as publishers are looking for the ideal price point to maximize revenues, readers should certainly demand equivalent quality to match those prices.

    I think it’s also important to realize how early in the game we are for this as a serious business for most publishers. Think of the early iterations of the consumer goods you mention above, and how clunky and problem-ridden they were, and how they improved over each generation. As the market grows and coalesces over particular file formats and products, I think you’ll see that same level of improvement. But make no mistake, those improvements do cost time, effort and money, but perhaps the scattered and nascent state of the market has made publishers hesitant to address them.

    I’m with all of you that this level of quality is unacceptable, I’m just pointing out that someone is going to have to do this editing. And editing costs money. The contradiction lies is so many voices declaring that editing is not necessary, that ebooks are virtually free to produce and should cost next-to-nothing versus those who demand quality and great attention to detail in editing. These seem like they’re pushing in opposite directions.

  6. I’ve been reading Peter F. Hamilton’s The Night’s Dawn Trilogy on my Kindle. This is the kind of ebook I will actually pay for despite the DRM. All three books of the Trilogy have been combined for one reasonable price.

    But it’s riddled with the oddest errors. Anytime a word contains an accent mark the character under the accent becomes a capital letter. So, for example, a man named André becomes AndrÉ and the phrase Déjà Vu becomes DÉjÀ Vu. This is very annoying when it happens consistently.

    Another artifact of bad proof-reading is that hyphens are inserted in tons of silly places especially character names. Morgan Freeman becomes Morgan Free-man and the town of Oxbridge becomes Ox-bridge.

    The release is still worth 8 bucks for three older books glommed together. But the massive number of typos shows me that publishers are not taking ebooks seriously. Too often they are just tossing together some poorly produced dreck in the hope of scoring a few extra sales.

  7. It’s not really full blown editing they even need usually. Just good proofreading. Heck I scanned and made my own copy of a book and time including scanning, OCR, proofreading and creating an ePub and a Mobi copy for my Kindle and my Opus only took about 8 hours from start to finish.

  8. Rich Adin,
    Could I suggest, because I like the idea of a hall of shame, that you consider also awarding ebooks with credits (perhaps a logo they might use) when the quality of their work is goopd or excellent?

  9. Rich, it may be difficult for new publishers to know what is expected, or rather what should be expected in terms of quality.

    If you do consider a Hall of Fame, might I suggest listing the attributes of the ebook for emulation.

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