Ebook Publishers Just Don't Understand

MattyHelms

Chesterfield King
Joined
Sep 29, 2020
Messages
163
Reaction score
515
Most of my tastes run to books that have fallen into the public domain in some countries. That apparently leads to metric tons of text dumps being put into ebooks by people hoping to make a quick buck on Amazon. Along with the dubious quality of the text, usually come some hilarious interpretation of the title via cover art. Let's post some!

I'll start:
Screenshot_2022-06-21-17-56-51-142~2.jpeg
 

Simlasa

Legendary Member
Joined
May 4, 2017
Messages
2,487
Reaction score
5,185
I bought a physical copy of Tolstoy's 'The Cosacks' recently and what I got looks like someone printed out a PDF... every page is a block of small text, no formatting.
 

Voros

Doomed Investigator
Joined
Sep 23, 2017
Messages
12,084
Reaction score
22,951

To be fair, Moby Dick is a romance of sorts between Ishmael and Qeequag.

"How it is I know not; but there is no place like a bed for confidential disclosures between friends. Man and wife, they say, there open the very bottom of their souls to each other; and some old couples often lie and chat over old times till nearly morning. Thus, then, in our hearts’ honeymoon, lay I and Queequeg – a cosy, loving pair."
 

Nobby-W

Top 5% expertise in the Dunning-Kruger effect
Joined
Oct 7, 2018
Messages
6,542
Reaction score
13,671
I bought a physical copy of Tolstoy's 'The Cosacks' recently and what I got looks like someone printed out a PDF... every page is a block of small text, no formatting.

I've also noticed quite a few outfits now reprinting out-of-copyright classics and selling on Amazon. Most of them have excruciatingly bad typography, likely done on MS Word or Libre Office, and probably sourced from an OCR scan of another novel. I've got a few of these too. Nothing with a notably terrible cover, though.
 

Lofgeornost

Vulpine once more.
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
1,780
Reaction score
5,047
I've also noticed quite a few outfits now reprinting out-of-copyright classics and selling on Amazon. Most of them have excruciatingly bad typography, likely done on MS Word or Libre Office, and probably sourced from an OCR scan of another novel. I've got a few of these too. Nothing with a notably terrible cover, though.
Yeah. I'll admit to being worried that this is going to drive more professional publishers out of that market--they won't bother to print good versions of o.o.c. works because of the competition from crappy but very cheap alternatives. That can affect not only the physical quality of the book, but also the contents--the guys just reprinting a scan of an old printed version may not have bothered to get the best version.

No doubt heavy-hitters like Dumas will still get good reprints from good presses, but I wonder about some other works. I really appreciate the editorial work and energy that went into the Howard compilations from the early 2000s, but I''m not sure that a publisher would do that sort of thing today, since there are now all these cheap-and-dirty Howard editions out there.
 

MattyHelms

Chesterfield King
Joined
Sep 29, 2020
Messages
163
Reaction score
515
Yeah. I'll admit to being worried that this is going to drive more professional publishers out of that market--they won't bother to print good versions of o.o.c. works because of the competition from crappy but very cheap alternatives. That can affect not only the physical quality of the book, but also the contents--the guys just reprinting a scan of an old printed version may not have bothered to get the best version.

No doubt heavy-hitters like Dumas will still get good reprints from good presses, but I wonder about some other works. I really appreciate the editorial work and energy that went into the Howard compilations from the early 2000s, but I''m not sure that a publisher would do that sort of thing today, since there are now all these cheap-and-dirty Howard editions out there.
This is also why a lot of classic movies and TV shows don't get professional digital releases. For example, the recent rumor is that NBC/Universal has the entire run of the fifties Dragnet in the vault. However, 60+ episodes have fallen into the public domain and are widely available for free, so why bother going through the effort to digitize all 200+ episodes for little profit...
 

Kilted Rob

Where's your troosers?
Joined
Sep 24, 2018
Messages
858
Reaction score
2,705
Yeah. I'll admit to being worried that this is going to drive more professional publishers out of that market--they won't bother to print good versions of o.o.c. works because of the competition from crappy but very cheap alternatives. That can affect not only the physical quality of the book, but also the contents--the guys just reprinting a scan of an old printed version may not have bothered to get the best version.

No doubt heavy-hitters like Dumas will still get good reprints from good presses, but I wonder about some other works. I really appreciate the editorial work and energy that went into the Howard compilations from the early 2000s, but I''m not sure that a publisher would do that sort of thing today, since there are now all these cheap-and-dirty Howard editions out there.
The Robert E. Howard Foundation have been continuing to publish the material by Howard that the Del Rey trades did not. The initial offerings were very limited but they now have started releasing standard editions of them With options in both hardcover and paperback.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
7,563
Reaction score
18,170
The Robert E. Howard Foundation have been continuing to publish the material by Howard that the Del Rey trades did not. The initial offerings were very limited but they now have started releasing standard editions of them With options in both hardcover and paperback.
YouTube also has audio of most stuff f you want to look.
 

Voros

Doomed Investigator
Joined
Sep 23, 2017
Messages
12,084
Reaction score
22,951
The best single volume collection of Howard is Penguin's Heroes in the Wind. Most of his best Westerns were published by the University of Nebraska press.
 

Nobby-W

Top 5% expertise in the Dunning-Kruger effect
Joined
Oct 7, 2018
Messages
6,542
Reaction score
13,671

Funnily enough, I have read Riders of the Purple Sage. It's credited as being the novel that started the Western genre and was written a surprisingly long time ago - 1912. That was about as distant from the wild west as the '80s were from today.

Zane Grey clearly didn't have a high opinion of mormons.
 
Last edited:

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
7,563
Reaction score
18,170
On consideration this space is brought to you by the letter F.
 

Nobby-W

Top 5% expertise in the Dunning-Kruger effect
Joined
Oct 7, 2018
Messages
6,542
Reaction score
13,671
Who does? They're an R away from accurate.

It was quite interesting to see that in a book written in 1912.

I've had a couple of little brushes with them. Once I lost a friend to the Mormons - he got sucked in and one day upped and disappeared off to Australia to be a missionary, never to be heard from again. On another occasion a girl fancied me. She was an art school student working part time as a janitor at my work. She was also from Tonga, in which the Mormons have really sunk their claws and her family was well and truly embroiled in the church. I had to make a hard decision there, as any involvement would almost certainly have ended in the church forcing her to choose between me and her family.
 
Last edited:

Lofgeornost

Vulpine once more.
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
1,780
Reaction score
5,047
Thanks for all the information and recommendations. I'm interested enough in Howard that I'm likely to skip the 'best of' collections for the more complete ones, at least for the genres or characters I want to read. It's good to hear that the Howard Foundation is going forward with full editions of his work.

As for the many cut-rate e-book compilations of out-of-copyright Howard stories--the sort of stuff we started out complaining about earlier--I'd rather read the actual published version as they first appeared. Nowadays it's often easy to do that, because a lot of the pulps have been digitized and you can read or download them for free. It's not as good as a carefully re-edited text, but it's better than some of the ripoff reprints. And you get the 'original experience' so to speak.
 

Kilted Rob

Where's your troosers?
Joined
Sep 24, 2018
Messages
858
Reaction score
2,705
Thanks for all the information and recommendations. I'm interested enough in Howard that I'm likely to skip the 'best of' collections for the more complete ones, at least for the genres or characters I want to read. It's good to hear that the Howard Foundation is going forward with full editions of his work.

As for the many cut-rate e-book compilations of out-of-copyright Howard stories--the sort of stuff we started out complaining about earlier--I'd rather read the actual published version as they first appeared. Nowadays it's often easy to do that, because a lot of the pulps have been digitized and you can read or download them for free. It's not as good as a carefully re-edited text, but it's better than some of the ripoff reprints. And you get the 'original experience' so to speak.
Wildside Press appears to have in print still many of their offerings, including the Weird Works of Robert E. Howard which reprints all his Weird Tales published material (and a few adjacent publications) in the order of publication.
Wildside Press
 
Cthulhu Mythos - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com
Top