An Example Of Bad eBook Formatting

by Mike Cane 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

About Nate Hoffelder (11384 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

3 Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Thad McIlroy – Future Of Publishing » A Harsh Spotlight Falls on Sloppy eBook Conversions
  2. Thad McIlroy – Future Of Publishing » Sloppy eBook Conversions in the Spotlight
  3. Fixed-layout Vs. Reflowable EPUBs: InDesign eBook Formats Explained – Creative Studios

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