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How Should Publishers Respond to eBook Errors?

Today Amazon wirelessly replaced the eBook version of Neal Stephenson‘s Reamde after readers found errors in the $16.99 eBook.

One customer called for a 75 percent refund: “this level of carelessness is inexcusable on economic grounds. I’d expect to find format errors and mangled content in a pirated ebook, not in a $17 Kindle edition. When I purchase an ebook at a price point so close to the print version, the publisher rakes in far more profit than from a print title. To then turn around and offer shoddy, incomplete text in that pricey Kindle title shows an arrogant disregard for economics, the reader, and the distribution channel.”

The Awl reprinted Amazon’s emailed response, explaining how to update your copy of the book. How do you think publishers should respond to errors in new eBooks?

Here’s a longer excerpt from Amazon customer Cynthia Ewer’s one star review:

I expect some adjustment to compensate for this issue.

First, it seriously damages the reading experience. I’ve invested many hours in the book, overlooking various format errors along the way. Now–without more–I’m told that what I’ve read is incomplete. Do I begin again at the beginning? Do I plow on? Either way, the reading experience is fatally tainted.

Second, this situation oozes contempt for the ebook buyer. As a published author, I’m aware of the word-by-word scrutiny that my print manuscripts receive. Why should ebooks be any different? Tossing a carelessly-formatted file out at random reflects badly on all links of the publishing chain, from author to publisher to distributor Amazon.

Third, this level of carelessness is inexcusable on economic grounds. I’d expect to find format errors and mangled content in a pirated ebook, not in a $17 Kindle edition. When I purchase an ebook at a price point so close to the print version, the publisher rakes in far more profit than from a print title. To then turn around and offer shoddy, incomplete text in that pricey Kindle title shows an arrogant disregard for economics, the reader, and the distribution channel.

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