Publishers – get your eBooks right please

My last post was a quick review of “Present at the Future”. I didn’t want to mar the review with complaints about eBooks because they aren’t relevant to the specific book (i.e., not the fault of the author).

But the publisher (and all publishers) need to wake up and start doing a better job with their eBook editions (in their defense this version is a couple years old, it might be improved now).

My complaints over the eBook of ‘Present at the Future’:
– There were no illustrations in the eBook version of book and the text was NOT amended to explain their absence except for a short note at the end. I spent some time digging around trying to turn the images ‘on’ thinking I just had a setting set incorrectly (Publisher issue).
– There’s a list of links to terms used in the book at the end that really should have been hyperlinks to locations in the document (Publisher)
– There are internal links that should have been hyperlinks instead of plain text (publisher)
– I was able to read and add annotations to the book on my PDA but when I went to sync with my computer through Mobipocket Reader I was not allowed to open the book — said I did not have the credentials to open it. I had bought this book from Fictionwise and I checked online, I still ‘had it’ but I noticed that the book was no longer for sale so I suspect Fictionwise lost the rights for it. Regardless I”m blaming Fictionwise for it and for losing the couple dozen annotations I had added to the book.

These are just more reasons why I’m holding off investing my discretionary income on eBooks until they get their formats, DRM, and formatting straightened out. As long as they keep on tossing out eBooks as afterthoughts, I’m not buying them.

Publishers complain constantly and consistently about how expensive eBooks are to make and it really is bullshit. In an afternoon I created an exporter that creates decent ePub ebooks (with links, images, table of contents and so on). This was in my free time and without any real understanding of the file formats involved. (And I’m not the only one making eBooks on my own, read Michael Stackpole’s posts for more info).

Big publishers should be investing in a stable production pipeline that allows them to turn out eBooks rapidly and in high quality. It really isn’t that difficult.

Former lead designer at BioWare (Dragon Age: Origins, Neverwinter Nights). Creator of Raiders of the Serpent Sea.

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