Skip to main content

Formatting Error Causes George R.R. Martin’s Name To Randomly Appear In "A Feast For Crows"

a-feast-for-crows-original[1]Here’s a typo you don’t see very often any more.

Is anyone reading the A Song of Ice and Fire series? I know that most of us are probably watching the TV series based on it, but if you’re reading the books then I want you to keep an eye out in the 4th ebook.

Apparently there’s a formatting error in one version of A Feast For Crows which seems to be randomly inserting the author’s name in the text:

ku-xlarge 2

This error was exposed last week by io9 commenter teshara, and some of the examples posted are really quite hilarious. I have a pretty good idea how this error happened, but before I explain it I want to share the rest of the screenshots:

ku-xlarge 1

ku-xlarge 3

ku-medium 2

ku-medium 1

ku-medium 3

I couldn’t find any similar reports, so I’m pretty sure this is not a common bug. I also haven’t found any ebook copy of this title that demonstrated this problem, but I think I know what went wrong.

It looks to me like this is either an example of a poor conversion from a PDF or it is the result of a bad scan job. The only times I have seen the author’s name and the book title inserted like this was when someone wasn’t careful when working from either a PDF copy or a scanned copy of a book.

You won’t find this all too often in an ebook produced from scratch, but if you scan the page of a paper book you will sometimes get a mass of text that includes the author/title header at the top of the page. And sometimes when an ebook formatter will be handed a PDF to work from that PDF has the same header as in the print edition.

Most ebook formatters know to filter out the page header, but clearly this ebook was handled by someone who missed this detail.

Normally I would only expect to see this on a pirated book, but I have seen this in a commercially produced ebook (though it has been 6 years since that happened). And I would not assume that this example is a pirated book; it’s entirely possible that someone sent their paper book to a book scanning service like 1DollarScan and got back a marginally quality ebook.

But who cares about that; this error is hilarious. Has anyone seen anything similar?


Similar Articles


Michelle Louring August 29, 2013 um 2:52 am

"That hair was George R.R. Martin…"
Definitely one of the funnier bugs!

Nate Hoffelder August 29, 2013 um 6:50 am


fjtorres August 29, 2013 um 12:03 pm

Most people who’ve used a scanner once or twice know to set the scan window to crop out headers and footers so it takes a pretty raw amateur to let that kind of error get to the proofing stage, to say nothing of out into the wild.

KarlB August 29, 2013 um 12:55 pm

I agree, but I’ve seen a lot of incredibly amateurish mistakes made in the formatting of eBooks from big-name publishers, so I totally believe that this could have happened in a "real," non-pirated edition of this book.

Quoi Lire August 29, 2013 um 1:48 pm

That’s remid me one of the first virus I have met : Waizu.
This little virus was in Microsoft Word document.
When printing the document, it randomly introduced "Waizy" in the document… but not in its preview.

Rob Siders August 29, 2013 um 10:59 pm

Actually, I don’t think this is a bad OCR scrub. Running heads usually don’t have the author’s name and the book title together. Author name is on the verso; title is on the recto. Plus, the text is usually, but not always, rendered as small caps.

My money’s on a bad find-and-replace.

Nate Hoffelder August 29, 2013 um 11:40 pm

This would be a very strange F&R error. I’m assuming that someone accidentally added text instead of removing it, but where would you find that string of text in a paper book?

fjtorres August 30, 2013 um 12:58 am

In the header of a pdf printout.
If you carelessly print, scan, and ocr a pdf file named George R.R. Martin etc you can easily get the file name all over.
The listed examples don’t seem to be missing any visible text or characters.

Nate Hoffelder August 30, 2013 um 6:42 am

It might not have been printed.There are ways to extract the text from a PDF via OCR.

fjtorres August 30, 2013 um 7:24 am

I know. But then you don’t get the header/footer issue.
This kind of mess is hard to create by simple carelessness; you have to worrk extra hard to get there. 😉

teshara August 30, 2013 um 12:22 pm

I reformatted it RTF to Epub using Calibre. I’m pretty sure it pops up where the original page breaks were. 🙂

Google Play Books Wants You to be the Next E E Cummings ⋆ Ink, Bits, & Pixels April 6, 2015 um 10:40 pm

[…] deleting ebooks just because someone crossed the wrong international boundary, or strange text inserted into a copy of Game of Thrones, formatting errors are fascinating puzzles which are fun to […]

Write a Comment