"Premium" ebooks, anyone? - was Re: OT: Physical Book Prices

Peter Corlett abuse at cabal.org.uk
Mon Dec 15 06:11:20 CST 2014

On Sun, Dec 14, 2014 at 07:18:17PM -0500, Toby Thain wrote:
> I am hoping for a "premium" tier of ebooks. The current versions are
> typographically horrible (think 1987 DTP) and overpriced.
> I would expect this tier would have:
> * complete proofreading and debugging
> * high quality fonts
> * actual input from designers and typographers
> * all of the above leading to a better reading experience
> * high quality images (implying better UI, which puts pressure on
> the device platform itself...)

Are you objecting to ebook pricing in general, or just Kindle?  Because the
Kindle platform is a joke.  The hardware's crap, the UI is worse, and the books
I tried were badly OCRed from paperbacks and not proofread.  Bizarrely, even
out-of-copyright works that have excellent versions on Project Gutenberg were
also shoddy.  Some of Apple's free samples were similarly half-jobbed.

I note that ebooks I've bought through Humble Bundle and direct from O'Reilly
and a few other places are of reasonable-to-good quality.  This suggests that
it's just the big names that are cutting corners because they are making money
hand-over-fist without needing to do it well.

However, you missed "good library management".  Kindle, iBooks, etc seem to be
designed as if one's library is a half-dozen pulp novels which are thrown away
when done.  My iTunes library contains 692 "books" -- some pulp novels, but
mostly technical documentation and papers -- and it's already unmanageable.  In
particular, ebook readers don't let me have a half-dozen documents open and
have poor random-access so I can't easily skip around checking references.

> If we are going to be screwed on price we should demand better quality :)

Or just pirate them :)

> Much as a high end print book has. (And the low end stabilised to "decent"
> layout and typography decades ago, thanks to farsighted paperback publishers
> like Penguin who invested in design and typography.)

You still see this in self-published books where there wasn't an editor who
would quietly take the corrupted Word document and burn it, then re-typeset it
with sensible styles and no Comic Sans or Papyrus.

And then we come to self-published books on Kindle. *shudder*

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