An Example Of Bad eBook Formatting

It shouldn’t have to be this way, either.

Harriman House thought so highly of the late Max Gunther’s long out-of-print books that they’ve gotten not only the print rights, but the eBook ones too.

While the print editions are probably very readable, the eBook ones are just a disaster.

Thanks to Moriah Jovan, I’m able to compare screensnaps of the bad Kindle formatting with iPad screensnaps I took from an ePub version sample available at the iBookstore.


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While the cover’s dimensions are suitable for an 600×800 eInk screen, the cover is lost in all of the whitespace of the iPad’s larger screen. Publishers need to create large eye-popping covers for tablets.

The indicia:


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Notice how it all clumps together in the Kindle version and even has some very bizarre line breaks!

It’s not much better on the iPad, either:


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No blank lines between the block paragraphs, as there would be in a proper print version. No publisher would even allow that in a professionally-produced print version, so why let it pass here?


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Moriah doesn’t like the fact “Harriman House, 2010″ is in gray text. But it works on the iPad:


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Notice however that the line is now left-aligned, not right-aligned!

And here comes the horrendous formatting in the Kindle version:


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It’s just about all one block of text! What were they thinking?

I think they were counting on something the iPad tried to do:


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Notice that the iPad tried to insert some spacing between the paragraphs. But this is still bad formatting and should be redone.

It doesn’t get any better as it continues:


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Really, just a line of asterisks as a separator? Do proper dingbats cost more? I don’t think so. An amateur would do that line of asterisks back in the days of IBM Selectrics and Liquid Paper. It has no business showing up in the 21st century in an eBook!

Below is just a rough I did myself. I took the Kindle sample, converted it to HTML, dumped it in Atlantis, and just put in proper paragraph indents. This is just messing around. I’m not saying this is pro quality (it’s damn well not!):


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So they can get proper frikkin paragraph indents, they just didn’t bother to do the little bit of extra work that would take.

I’ve recommended Max Gunther’s books. They’re excellent. But I can’t recommend these eBook versions until Harriman House lives up to its commitment to Gunther and formats them properly.

Previously here:

Another Max Gunther Book In E!
You WANT These Books: They Nearly Made Me Buy A Kindle!

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9 Comments

Filed under Amazon Kindle, Book Creation, eBooks: General, eInk Devices, iOS

9 responses to “An Example Of Bad eBook Formatting

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention An Example Of Bad eBook Formatting « Mike Cane's xBlog -- Topsy.com

  2. Pingback: An Example Of Bad eBook Formatting

  3. Publishers need to create large eye-popping covers for tablets.

    I had been coding with the iPhone in mind, but I’m starting to use the biggest size covers my clients give me to pop in the iPad since the iPhone and Kindle will scale.

    It’s just about all one block of text! What were they thinking?

    You have to be very specific about your p tags in Kindle or it’ll give you a blank line between paragraphs, so it was somehow coded in some way that didn’t translate to the EPUB. I’m not sure how… And the EPUB doesn’t have ENOUGH line space between paragraphs.

    Do proper dingbats cost more? I don’t think so.

    Dingbats that are HTML special characters are fine. Images have to be embedded, so… Yeah, that costs more. At least, it does in my shop.

    Really, this isn’t, by any stretch, the worst I’ve ever seen, but it IS the worst I’ve ever seen where they’re asking $9.99 for it.

    You really don’t get lucky shelling out $10 for shit work.

    • mikecane

      I got the para indents in my rough ePub via CSS, IIRC (I like to forget these things as soon as they’re done!). But I also then used that for a Kindle file test and the indents stayed. Hm, just UnZipped the test ePub. Calibre is all over the frikkin stylesheet. I could have sworn I used Atlantis. My head hurts.

      • Maybe you used Atlantis over a Calibre file without knowing it? I could believe the original was done in Calibre.

      • mikecane

        I was doing more than one thing at the time. With one of them, I might have used either PolyEdit or PSPad Editor instead of Atlantis. I don’t keep notes when messing around like that.

        Edit: The original was the Kindle sample directly from Amazon. Used a sekrit tool on it to de-Kindle-ize it.

  4. Ebook formatting is unpleasant for perfectionists … as bad or worse than html.

    Which figures.

    Giving Sigil a try …

  5. Pingback: The Content Wrangler » Blog Archive » eBook Creation Service Aims To Make Publishing Quality eBooks Easier

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