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War and Nookd — eBook Regex Gone Haywire 185

Posted by Soulskill
from the thinking-things-through dept.
PerlJedi tips a story that highlights one of the downsides to ebooks. A blogger who recently read Tolstoy's War and Peace on his Nook stumbled upon some odd phases, such as: "It was as if a light had been Nookd in a carved and painted lantern..." After seeing the word 'Nookd' a few more times, he found a dead-tree version of the book and discovered that the word was supposed to be 'kindled.' Every instance of the word 'kindle' in the ebook had been replaced with 'Nook.' "The Superior Formatting Publishing version isn’t a Barnes and Noble book, so this isn’t the work of a rogue Nook marketer from B&N. Rather, it’s likely that Superior Formatting Publishing ported its Kindle version of War and Peace over to the Nook — doing a search and replace to make sure that any Kindle references they’d inserted, such as in the advertising at the end of the book about their fine Kindle products, were simply changed to Nook. The unwitting hilarity of a publisher doing a 'find and replace' and accidentally changing the text of a canonical work of Western thought is alarming. Many versions of e-books are from similar outfits, that distribute public domain works formatted for Kindle or Nook at the lowest possible prices. The great democratizing factor of the ebook formats – that anyone can easily distribute – can also mean that readers can never be quite sure that they are viewing the texts as the author intended."
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War and Nookd — eBook Regex Gone Haywire

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  • Umm, yeah? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday June 01, 2012 @02:50PM (#40183285) Journal
    Has anybody ever been introduced to the wonderful world of the truly dreadful unauthorized variants of canonical texts that were being hacked out while the ink on those texts was barely dry?

    Actors and/or audience members cobbling their (often surprisingly good; but not good enough) memory of a new work of Shakespear into a cut-price unauthorized edition, some really trippy stuff in those version... Hack printers buying first editions and setting blunt type as fast and furious as they could, to get their knockoff on the street before the other guy did... Never mind the various editorial mistakes in subsequent prints, bowdlerizations, etc.

    Of course, works that started as oral traditions or assembled-by-committee mashes of existing texts are far worse than even the worst horrors of post-gutenburg hackery. Oh, and let's not even talk about the dark history of situations where translation has been needed...

    There's a whole industry, in academia, of 'critical editions' that are distinguished in no small part by the editor actually giving a damn about the sources drawn from, attempting to provide the most accurate reproduction of the original, essays and footnotes illuminating the process of choosing between manuscript A and manuscript B, and how to transliterate manuscript C's character names, and whatnot.

    Sure, .99 public domain cash-ins are largely shlock(Project Gutenburg isn't world-class critical editions; but they do at least tend to be produced by people who give a damn and aren't just grubbing for cash by releasing quick and dirty repackages); but the quality of the low end of the market for printed works has always been pretty dire. At least, these days, we don't generally see physical problems like crap ink, blunt, used type, or horrid paper stock also being inflicted on the readers in the cheap seats.
  • checksum (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheSync (5291) on Friday June 01, 2012 @02:54PM (#40183363) Journal

    Every novel should have an MD5 hash....

  • Re:hey (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 0123456 (636235) on Friday June 01, 2012 @02:54PM (#40183365)

    It's a dangerous world of low cost ebooks out here

    Nah, some of the expensive ebooks are worse; I've seen a number of people complain about e-books of recent high-priced novels where they've clearly OCR-ed the print book rather than use the actual digital text it was created from, because it's full of uncorrected OCR errors or 'corrections' to the OCR errors which are even further from what the text should say.

  • Re:Amusing, but... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by b0bby (201198) on Friday June 01, 2012 @03:11PM (#40183611) Homepage

    This is the problem exactly. I can deal with odd formatting from a PG book (though as you say, most are fine); what pisses me off is recent, full price ebooks where there has obviously not been the slightest attempt at editing or typesetting. One I got recently had a consistent problem where quoted text changed font & size after the first paragraph, which is pretty jarring. A full price book on my Nook should be a better experience than PG or scanned & OCR'd pdb were on my old Palm Pilot but sometimes these types of glitches just take you out of the experience & actually seem worse.

    The Oatmeal's book "5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth" I luckily got out of the library (through Overdrive) - the images are so small as to be unreadable, both on the PC & ipad. If you look at the Play store, there are lots of good reviews, but they're all from Goodreads & such for the paper version. I'm sure it's funny, if you can read it; if I'd paid money for this pile of bits I'd be pissed. Does the publisher not own an ipad or a Kindle Fire? Did they not load it on one single device & say to themselves, "hmm, this really sucks, let's fix it"?

  • by DavidTC (10147) <slas45dxsvadiv...vadiv@@@neverbox...com> on Friday June 01, 2012 @10:24PM (#40190399) Homepage

    Uh, not really. Word meanings and connotations changes over time.

    'Nigger' was a slur, but it wasn't, as you call it, 'a terrible slur'. I point to Scout using it (And being corrected by her father.) in To Kill a Mockingbird, set in the 1930s, written in the early 60s.

    It's only fairly recent that it became an obscene word that people won't say, ever. Not even in the context of reporting what other people say.

    Or to look at it another way: Huck and Tom talk about 'Injun Joe' all the time, just like 'Nigger Jim'. That is also a racial slur, used in exactly the same context. And if you went around calling people 'Injun' in the modern day, well, people would rightly assume you were racist. But when they recounted the story, they would say that you said 'Injun', not 'the I-word'. And you'll notice that no one has proposed changing 'Injun' to anything in Huck Finn.

    This is because at some point the taboo against 'nigger' became so strong that it managed to cross the boundary into the obscene, thus fundamentally changing how we see the word, which imparts a rather unintended impact to Huck Finn.

    You can argue for that impact, but it's certainly not something Mark Twain knew was going to be there.

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