One of the main arguments publishers make for how they add value in the book ecosystem is production values: a professionally edited and designed book will be attractive, clean, and readable. Why is it, then, that the e-reader versions of so many books from major publishers are riddled with obvious design mistakes? I have seen:
- No chapter divisions
- Non-interactive indices keyed to physical page numbers (useless in a “location”-based Kindle book)
- Drop capitals formatted inconsistently within a book
- Endnotes with no way to navigate between note number and note
- Unnecessary hyphens wherever there were line breaks in the physical book
- Typographically incorrect quotation marks
- Repeated passages
The inescapable conclusion is that the publishers either didn’t notice these issues or didn’t care enough to fix them. Now, perhaps publishers believe that readers don’t care about production values in electronic editions. But if not, then remind me why we we’ll need publishers in the all-digital era?
It’s the same thing in news, in music, and everywhere else you look. You don’t get to be part of the future by pointing to what you did in the past. The argument that only professionals can do good work isn’t very convincing if the professionals don’t actually do good work.