Grammatical standards in ebooks

I am a big fan of my Kindle. I’ve read countless ebooks over the last two years since buying it. Not literally – I guess I could count them. I just choose not to. (This despite writing a rather damning post upon their introduction back in 2007.)

But I’ve noticed that in publishing ebooks, authors seem to be bypassing an important step that was rarely bypassed in the production of the printed book: proofreading.

I’ve read quite a few works of fiction over the last few months. And every single one falls short of the mark. There are words in the wrong order, words that are missing completely, hyphens in place of en dashes, British spellings creeping into an otherwise American style guide, and countless (more literally) other niggling gripes. Sometimes I’ve seen three or four errors on a single page, which given that Kindle pages are less text-heavy than standard book pages, is rather unsettling.

(For the grammar stalwarts among you, a recent book I read started all parenthetical clauses with an en dash but finished them with a hyphen – frustrating in the extreme.)

As well as making publishing more accessible to the masses, the Kindle has lowered the standards needed for a work to be published. And future generations will note the sudden drop in standards that electronic book publishing brought about.

A crying shame. But a trend that will continue, I fear.

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