Ebooks - is EPUB the poor relation?
A summer of reading ebooks has led to the dismaying discovery that, in some cases, publishers are not taking enough care in converting titles to digital formats.The worst examples were EPUP ebooks from Penguin of John Updike's The Early Stories and Rabbit Is Rich, both bought because I thought they would be easier to read/re-read than my hefty, small-type print editions. The Early Stories - perhaps because I did not buy it from Kobo? - lacks pagination for individual stories, so my Kobo e-reader can chart only my progress through the entire, 800-page book. More annoying is Rabbit Is Rich: it has lost Updike's line breaks between scenes, and so runs on new paragraphs with jarring shifts from the previous ones; and in Updike's fourth long chapter, full of dashes, every dash is reproduced as a comma. I found a similar problem with line breaks in William Landay's Defending Jacob (Orion).
Do Kindle titles suffer from these defects? I suspect that publishers are paying less attention to EPUB - a mistake, if they want to encourage competition. Certainly, EPUB availability is not as impressive. Searching in July, I could find no trace of JK Rowling's A Casual Vacancy on Kobo - can you imagine such an omission on Amazon? Looking to buy Ian McEwan's Sweet Tooth in the week of publication, I could find it for sale on Kobo, but not on Google or on Sony.
The ebook revolution has not been a PR success for mainstream publishers, who are generally portrayed as outmoded profit-mongers. Providing consumers with shoddy service is not a timely strategy.