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Comment: Re:I've got a better modell (Score 1) 301

by nabsltd (#47582413) Attached to: Amazon's eBook Math

Formatting the book is a whole lot easier than it used to be, true, but that's only part of what an editor does.

You'd think that, but I returned an eBook to Amazon after their normal return period when starting about 30% through, paragraphs breaks started being random...sometimes there would be no break in 20 lines of alternating dialog, and sometimes paragraphs would break like they were trying to be wrapped to fit a very narrow line. It also had long runs of italics (no closing tag), random font size changes, and run-together words. It was obvious that nobody had read that book after some idiot formatted it.

Also, many eBooks are apparently not sourced from an electronic copy, but rather scans of the print version, as they often have dozens (or even hundreds) of versions of the section separators (like 3 stars) as images. I can maybe understand one copy of the image, but with Unicode and embedded fonts, you can usually convert those kind of dingbats to text.

Or how about this sample (that happens a lot) of how not to do small caps to intro a chapter. The entire span is set smaller than the main text, then the first character is made bigger, and the rest set in fake small caps (by using all caps and shrinking the font). I've seen even worse examples that result in the first words at about 30% of the main font size. These are straight from Amazon, and that's exactly how it renders on a Kindle.

The author is not going to be good at reading for consistency, since the author knows a whole lot more about the fictional world than went into the story (at least, this is my experience writing stuff that isn't really publishable). A casual reader may miss a name change or inconsistent backstory. That doesn't mean that name consistency is unimportant, but rather than a skilled editor will pick up on things that will make the book worse that most people will overlook.

I can tell you right now that publishers either don't have any skilled editors working for them, or they choose to only assign them to books I don't read.

From #1 best-selling authors to the somewhat obscure, I find errors that anyone who read the book at all would have caught. Gems include sections repeated outright in later chapters (character briefly introduced, then fleshed out, but the "fleshing" used copy/paste starting paragraphs that made little sense in the later context), character name changes, spelling/usage errors (I've seen they're/their/there confusion in far too many books), and no knowledge of the character/author (character says "should of gone" as many people incorrectly do, but is "corrected" by the editor to "should have gone" in some but not all instances).

What I'm basically saying is that if you think a publisher deserves money because they provide editing for the author, much of what is being sent out by the "Big Six" shows that you're wrong.

Comment: Re:Bricks and Mortar? (Score 1) 301

by nabsltd (#47582009) Attached to: Amazon's eBook Math

Powell's Books is quite searchable, they have quite a lot of books, and they have lots of old and rare volumes that are likely to be hard to find elsewhere.

The website is actually quite poorly searchable, as an exact author name of a somewhat obscure author (James Elliott) doesn't hit a match until the 17th result. In addition, none of the books by that author that aren't actually available as physical books are listed. Amazon has similar problems in the first way (although the 2nd result is a match for a different author with the same name), but not in the second. Even if it isn't available anywhere, if Amazon ever sold it, it's in their catalog.

As for "hard to find elsewhere", I pretty much guarantee you that anything they have will have 10x the listings on ABE.

They also have a rather nice store that one can visit and simply browse, on the off chance that they don't actually know precisely what they want going in, and want the opportunity to see what is available on the shelves or to communicate with the knowledgable staff.

Once suggestion engines got going well, "browsing" in a bookstore pretty much went away. Wandering up and down the aisles looking for a title that sounds interesting or a book cover that grabs attention is pretty much guaranteed to cost you a lot more time and result in less success than using Amazon, etc., to do the same thing. I understand that some people like to do this, but some people also just like to walk around the mall looking for "something to buy".

As for the "knowledgeable staff", if a book isn't in their catalog, I'm pretty sure they would give the same blank stares as every place else for anything outside their comfort zone.

Comment: Re:I've got a better modell (Score 1) 301

by nabsltd (#47574203) Attached to: Amazon's eBook Math

People who actually work in the industry, including award winning authors will point out that as much work goes in to turning a manuscript in to a book as goes in to writing the manuscript. That's today, with the crappy level of editing and proofreading.

I have no formal training in "copy editing", "proofreading", or any other publishing skill.

Yet, it takes me only about an hour to reformat a book from the crappy HTML that almost all eBooks have into something that fits the ePub standard. Likewise, I have taken community-scanned books with horrific formatting and with a few regular expression search and replace, turned them into correct paragraph-formatted HTML, ready for detail formatting. Again, this only takes a couple of hours.

Proofreading the book does take whatever time it takes (a minute or two per page), though, as even spell- and grammar-checking can't catch much.

Since I'm assuming that current authors write using some kind of computer software, I would suspect that a publishing house would have far less to do in the formatting realm as they would have much better sources than I get to work with. So, unless the book is just broken in some way (characters re-named halfway through, backstory in chapter 1 doesn't match that in chapter 12, etc.), it won't need much in the way of editing, as pretty much every author has their own style and changing that isn't a good thing. eBooks especially have no real limits, so a book with an extra 30,000 words isn't going to cause the publishing run to have to be done with some other physical method, or a smaller font to fit the required page count, etc., so again unless the book is so crappy that it probably shouldn't have been written in the first place, there's really not as much need for "editing" as there used to be.

Comment: Re:Equally suspect (Score 1) 301

by nabsltd (#47574081) Attached to: Amazon's eBook Math

Scalzi is right that (entertainment) books are not necessarily interchangeable. If one wants the latest Stephen King novel, and it is too expensive, one may very well not be willing to substitute another author.

The other issue is that books have historically always been available for free for many people (libraries) and very cheaply for many other people (used book stores).

If I have 27 books on my reading list, and the latest Stephen King novel is too expensive today and my local library has a waiting list, then I can read any of the other 26 books in the meantime.

Comment: Re:Equally suspect (Score 1) 301

by nabsltd (#47574049) Attached to: Amazon's eBook Math

The interesting thing is that when Apple allowed the music companies to set the price to $1.29, the companies that did so made more money. While some people were not going to pay $1.29 for a song, there were plenty of others who said, "Yeah, okay."

I think the difference is that for $0.30 more you get "what you want", and it's far less than buying the whole album (which many people still remember as the only way to get music).

For books, though, most people who read are willing to read any format if they just want to read the book. So, when an eBook costs more than some other format, then the price needs to be lowered. Since used physical books are still very readable, those need to be considered as well when determining what the market will bear.

For me, this means I haven't paid more than $3.00 for any eBook yet. When Amazon had sales similar to Steam's big ones, I spent hundreds of dollars, and haven't come close to reading all the books yet. Unlike physical books, I can buy for later with no real penalty (storage space for eBooks is essentially free with books averaging 1MB each).

Comment: Re:Amazon is right (Score 1) 301

by nabsltd (#47573975) Attached to: Amazon's eBook Math

I also refuse to pay $9.99 for an eBook copy of a book that has been out of print for 30 years. There are numerous scifi & fantasy books being re-released lately at this absurd price scale and it's ridiculous.

Absolutely true. Assuming you don't circumvent the eBook DRM, both eBooks and physical books have there advantages and disadvantages. If you just want to read the book, a "very good" used paperback from Amazon will do the job as well as anything else.

So, the eBook shouldn't cost any more than the least expensive physical book that is at least "very good" used.

Comment: Re:Bricks and Mortar? (Score 1) 301

by nabsltd (#47573931) Attached to: Amazon's eBook Math

Come to Portland, experience Powell's Books.

Why? What does it give me that Amazon (and the rest of the Internet) doesn't?

I used to spend a lot of time in bookstores, and would almost always go into a bookstore in whatever town I was visiting. Today, I never go into a bookstore, because I guarantee you I have a much better chance of finding the book I want at Amazon, and will almost never pay more for the privilege.

Most of my hunting for books was for hardcovers, because they last longer. I would also search for obscure older books in whatever format I could get. With eBooks as an option (which last even longer than hardcover), plus the vast number of 3rd-party sellers at Amazon, I can find whatever I want. On the rare occasion that Amazon doesn't have what I want, I can try ABE, which is like being able to walk into every independent bookstore in the world at the same time and look for my book.

Powell's Books might be a fine bookstore, but it's unlikely they have a few million easily searchable volumes, sometimes with hundreds of copies of each book (and with each copy trying to price itself competitively against the others). Then, too, one of the things I always hated about bookstores was trying to figure out where they might put a it science fiction, horror, fantasy...and why do "bestsellers" often get their own section, even though the books there are from all genres.

Comment: Re:The Alliance of Artists should lose this suit (Score 1) 314

by nabsltd (#47567943) Attached to: Ford, GM Sued Over Vehicles' Ability To Rip CD Music To Hard Drive

*** "Fair use" does not actually make copying legal. Rather, it's a defense to the accusation of copyright infringement.

You're splitting hairs here.

Imagine that you are sued by someone for copyright infringement. It turns out that they sued you over copying something they you, personally, hold the copyright to. You'd still have to go to court to "defend" yourself, but what you did was absolutely legal.

Basically, you can be sued for anything, and might have to "defend" yourself, even if the law explicitly states that what you did was legal, which is what the "fair use" part of US copyright law does for certain things that would otherwise be infringing.

Comment: Re:Time Shifting? (Score 4, Interesting) 314

by nabsltd (#47567827) Attached to: Ford, GM Sued Over Vehicles' Ability To Rip CD Music To Hard Drive

Lastly, Ford and GM could be dismissed from the suit as they didn't manufacture the systems but bought them and used them.

Ford's system uses Sony hardware and software (including patent-encumbered software) in addition to software by Microsoft.

Ford and GM are pretty big, but if Sony and Microsoft get involved, the AARC would be in for being tied up in court for centuries.

Comment: Re:$7142.85 (Score 1) 417

by nabsltd (#47560531) Attached to: A 24-Year-Old Scammed Apple 42 Times In 16 Different States

I was merely pointing out that to me, coming from an x86 background, that seems like an astonishingly high sum to spend on any computer at a computer store.

And, you are's a lot of money, and likely would have been several items because really expensive builds are "special order", which couldn't be done with this scam.

A really good 30" monitor could set you back nearly $2,000 at any computer store. An external drive array with 4 disks might be about the same price. Start with a laptop, add a few other accessories and you end up looking like you are buying a complete system (which wouldn't be as suspicious as buying 4 laptops) and are around $6-7K.

Comment: Re:He is lucky not being labelled a terrorist... (Score 1) 894

This isn't police state stuff, because Southwest Airlines is not a police organization but a private corporation.

"Failure to comply with the orders" of a flight attendant, gate attendant, or just about any other airline employee while in any area they "control" (e.g., the airplane, the gate, etc.) is a felony in the US.

So, yeah, it's "police state stuff", because these people know they have that kind of power.

Comment: Re:Is there an SWA Twitter police? (Score 1) 894

If he wanted to complain about the agent by name, he should have filed a complaint with the airlines rather than post it for anyone to see.

Do you seriously think that she would have reacted the same way (pull him off the plane and ask him to delete the tweet) if she had let the kids join him and he tweeted positively about how great she is at customer service?

The situation would be identical in that she would be named personally and an opinion would be stated about her. Just because that opinion might be a "bad" one doesn't give her the right to use her very real authority to attempt to bully him into retracting the post.

Comment: Re:Is there an SWA Twitter police? (Score 1) 894

The other is that - as the articles say - he named her in the very public tweet, and might have threatened to escalate further and encourage people to harass, threaten, or do worse to her.

So if he had named her in a tweet full of praise, it would be OK? Wouldn't she then feel threatened that wackos might want to propose to her because she's such a great person? He's not responsible for what other people might do in regards to a truthful but opinionated twitter post, regardless of whether that post is positive or negative.

I would be OK with your idea if she only requested that he remove her name from the post, and explained her personal discomfort. If she then also offered contact information for her supervisor so that he could complain about her personally if he wished, that would have been just about the perfect way to react. But, none of this should have involved pulling him off the plane. That was done solely as leverage to get her way.

Comment: Re:Customer service? (Score 1) 894

That's not government authority, that's the authority of a privately owned company to refuse service to anyone.

As others have pointed out, "failing to follow the instructions of a airline/TSA/whatever employee" when at an airport is a felony in the US. Thus, if he refused to remove the tweet, he technically could have been arrested.

Whenever the government says "you can't do X" and "X" is exercising one of your inalienable rights, it's a Constitutional issue, which in this case is 1st Amendment.

Overload -- core meltdown sequence initiated.