Next week, any e-book containing a whiff of a typo, spelling error, or formatting error will need to run for cover from Amazon’s editing bots.
Come February 3rd, no errors are safe.
Ok, there may need to be more than a whiff of an error. But it would seem that even a few mistakes could land some e-books with a nice yellow error message for readers everywhere to see.
Michael Kozlowski from goodereader.com said, “Amazon has two stages of the warning system that will go live within a few short weeks. If an e-book only contains a few spelling mistakes, but is still readable, a simple warning message will appear on the details page of that specific title. It will make the average book buyer aware that there are some issues. If the book has bad formatting issues, and basically renders it unreadable, Amazon will suppress it and the book listing will be removed.”
According to another article by Nate Hoffelder, Amazon has long been warning readers when they come across an e-book with substantial errors, and rightfully so. No one wants to try to decipher whether or not a 5 is really supposed to be an “S” whenever they sit down with a romance novel. Sometimes, Amazon will even remove the titles. These files come with a message:
However, it is not only the unreadable books getting these sorts of messages anymore. Amazon will now be posting warnings for minimal typos and errors, even if the book is mostly fine. This means that the product page of a well-edited book with minor mechanical problems will have a warning label.
Sitting in an office where we pore over grammatical and spelling errors from sunup to sundown, we can say with certainty that you won’t always catch ’em all. It’s just not going to happen.
If you add to that the difficulty of checking every character in a file to make sure each one converted properly (an almost impossible task), there will most definitely be some errors in e-books on Amazon, at least the first time they’re uploaded. Enough to make them unreadable? Not always. Enough to make Amazon add a big warning message? Probably.
It is, for the most part, a fair system. Customers and readers report errors in the text to Amazon, who will judge whether or not they will pull the book from the shelf for its errors. They then notify the publishers and authors of the specific errors, giving them time to reupload a polished book.
Yes, it’s nice to inform paying customers that they’re about to buy a book with some errors, and some would say that other e-book vendors need to catch up with Amazon’s system. If you’re about to lay down some money for a product, you want to know that product is worth your time and cash.
However, Hoffelder makes an excellent point that these “spelling mistakes” may well be alternate spellings specifically chosen by the author, fantastical names, or other made-up words. If this is the case, then customers may see Amazon’s warning message and decide not to buy an excellent book because it contains unfamiliar words.
So what happens when readers pass up an otherwise great e-book because of a couple mistakes in spelling? Is this just good customer service or is it yet another of example of Amazon putting its nose where it shouldn’t? Sound off in the comments!