Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Adventures in E-reading

I read my first book and a half on the Kindle reader for iPad last weekend.

Specifically I enjoyed:
  • Masters of Doom - a great book primary about John Carmack and John Romero. If you are a fan of the genre, it's a great read. I stayed up past 4am reading, it was so engrossing. I remember being on the Software Creations BBS, which is mentioned in the book.
  • Peopleware - Productive Projects and Teams (Second Edition) - a highly recommended book. I'm only half way done, so a full write up will have to wait, but it is a very insightful (and also quick) read. 
Why did I choose the Kindle reader over iBooks? Kindle has a much better selection of books. So far iBooks is 0 for 3 on books I have wanted. Also - the Kindle reader is available on other platforms.

I love reading on the iPad. I can read with a light on - or without. The text was very readable and my eyes did not get put off by the backlit screen even after reading for 5 hours straight as I tore through Master of Doom.  Even though I already owned Peopleware in print, I paid the 10 bucks for the Kindle version anyway. That's a testament to how much I enjoyed reading on the iPad.

All is not well in the land of e-reading though. While I had no quality issues with Masters of Doom, Peopleware seems to be full of missing punctuation, at least one blatant typo, and a chapter that is in the wrong place. I did a quick search - Apparently I  am not  the  only one. Since I have the print version, I have verified that none of the issues I have seen occur in my print copy. What is going on? Could it be that physical books are being OCR'd, or worse, re-typed by hand? What on earth??? Shouldn't digital copies already exist at the publisher?

Here is an example from the Table of Contents in Peopleware:
Actual TOC from the Paperback copy
Kindle version
The chapter appears in the wrong place in the book. Intermezzo should be between chapters 9 and 10, not between chapters 8 and 9. Also, less importantly, the titles seem to have been truncated, and in the case of #8, the quotes are missing.

I found at least several instances of missing punctuation while reading so far, as well as one glaring typo:
"The only acceptable interruption there was a fire alarm, and it had to be for a real Tire."
Somehow a lowercase f turned into a capital T...

Maybe some more veteran e-readers can tell me if they run into this a lot. I find it seriously distracting when sentences are incomplete or I find typos in books. Especially if they are an artifact of the e-book translation, and not something the original editors missed.

Is this the state of ebooks these days? I hope not, or my adventures in e-reading will be short lived.

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