Publishers’ Neglect of Ebook Quality is Frustrating

I bought a few Kindle ebooks by J. G. Ballard last night. I read many of his books back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and with a movie version of High Rise coming out soon, I thought it would be a good time to read some again.

The first one I started reading is The Atrocity Exhibition (, Amazon UK), which, while not Ballard’s best book by far, is an interesting surrealist look at car crashes. The introduction by William Burroughs shows the link between the two authors; Ballard was very much influenced by Burroughs.

But I’m frustrated by the poor quality of the text. There are typos every couple of pages. It’s really sad that publishers just do quick scans of print books and don’t proofread them at all before selling them as ebooks. Here’s an example:

Kindle typos

The typos haven’t been that close together in most of the book, but you can see that this is the kind of scan-o – words that are read wrong by OCR software – that is not uncommon. The first word should be “die” and the second “that.”

Harper Collins, the publisher of this book, is one of the world’s leading publishers. If they can’t expend the resources to have one proofreader read through a book, then they don’t deserve my business. Perhaps they’re just trying to crowd-source the proofreading. If you’re not aware, you can select text in a Kindle ebook – on a Kindle device or using the Kindle app – and signal typos. Amazon says that they’ll check them, but I don’t think they ever do. The reviews for this book on Amazon UK show that people complained about typos in this book years ago.

I’ll be asking Amazon for a refund. And I’ll continue to do so in the future every time there are more than a couple of typos in a book. (Yes, as a writer, I know that there are always typos, so I’m willing to accept a few.)