Shannon Stacey

Judging a publisher by formatting?

All Romance eBooks is giving away a free book for each of the 12 days of Christmas. It’s an exciting promotion because it’s a chance to sample new authors and new publishers and perhaps find great new books to read.

Previously occupying this space was a rant about the formatting issues of the two books published by Tease Publishing, which I downloaded from All Romance eBooks. The problem apparently occurred during the conversion to ePub by ARe and had been addressed.

11 comments to “Judging a publisher by formatting?”

  1. Holly
      · December 20th, 2009 at 4:09 pm · Link

    Because I know who owns Tease and why it was started, I refuse to buy their books anyway. The editing is shoddy at best (of the ones I’ve seen anyway) and the formatting issues aren’t limited to the ePub format. Though I hate to punish all authors because of their publisher, I won’t ever buy a book from them.

  2. Lillie A.
      · December 20th, 2009 at 4:19 pm · Link

    This made me curious since I have the free reads, too. I do not have an ereader, so I use the pdf format for my computer. So I opened my free reads. Pdf doesn’t have the same formatting problems as ebubs but it has another issue that I haven’t run across before. If you leave the text at 78.4% (which is what it opens as), it’s too small to read. If you increase it, it doesn’t fit on the page. *sigh*

  3. Chantal
      · December 20th, 2009 at 4:32 pm · Link

    I am SO glad you posted this.
    Ever since I got my iPhone I never use my eBookwise anymore, I read all my ebooks on my phone now.

    I will for sure be avoiding that publisher. What is the point of buying ebooks if you have all that annoying stuff in them?

    By the way, I have Doll, too.
    No real reason for saying that, other than I wanted too. LOL

  4. Shannon
      · December 20th, 2009 at 4:32 pm · Link

    I have the font size problem on the PDFs I buy directly from Harlequin’s site to read on the Sony 505. The font’s too small, but if I magnify it, it runs over on to a short bit of the next page, leaving a big white space and then a blank page I have to flip past.

    I don’t know a lot about the background of Tease, but I think if you’re going to publish ebooks, you should know how to make an ebook. :shock:

  5. Shannon
      · December 20th, 2009 at 4:33 pm · Link

    Chantal, I loved the cover of Doll. I still read the blurb, of course, but I was drawn repeatedly to that cover, so I bought it. :)

  6. AnneD
      · December 20th, 2009 at 4:36 pm · Link

    I had the same problem. And it’s one I’ve found myself when I’ve transferred a pdf into epub myself using calibre etc. So I wonder if some of the ePubs on ARe are ARe made from PDF in a similar manner? My reason for suggesting – the HQ offering for the 12 days of XMas had the same formatting issues.

  7. Stella Price
      · December 20th, 2009 at 4:51 pm · Link

    Hi Shannon,

    I’m sorry you had such an issue. I’m the “Stella” that makes the PDF’s for Tease, and we don’t put up EPub format, only PDF’s. When we first started, we had a few LIT formats on ARe but decided soon after that that it wasn’t worth the time or effort when the majority of our sales were in PDF. I don’t know HOW an EPUB format got on ARe since I didn’t make it and didn’t upload it this is a complete mystery to me(I don’t even know how to make them to be honest). As a publisher we only make PDF’s because our focus is print. Again, I’m seriously sorry you had such a problem with the format, It’s not something we do as a publisher at this time.

    Again, sorry for the inconvenience.


  8. Moriah Jovan
      · December 20th, 2009 at 5:33 pm · Link

    Looks to me like the PDF was made using Ghostscript (by Stella, as she said). Then the PDF would have been converted to an RTF (a non-stripped MSWord version), and run through an online epub maker somewhere.

    Formatting ebooks is a complicated process and it’s an entirely different skillset from making a PDF and, IMO, epubs are the trickest to make and make them work right.

    I know that Fictionwise does all its own conversion. You submit an RTF formatted to their (strict!) specifications, and they do the rest. I don’t know if All Romance eBooks does that or not and a quick scan of the site hasn’t yielded an answer to that. My Bookstore and More doesn’t do any formatting for books other than Samhain’s, and each publisher is responsible for the files they upload.

    For my part, I know what I like in ebook formatting, and I take care to make it as pretty and accessible as it can be for each format I offer.

    Regarding the metadata: Many, many publishers, both digi and traditional, don’t do much with regard to that and it’s so important–yet so easy to do, especially in a PDF, using Acrobat. I don’t know about the other PDF drivers.

  9. Lori James
      · December 20th, 2009 at 7:57 pm · Link

    Shannon –

    I saw this come across on twitter and had to take a look. As an avid reader and retailer, I often wish that there were standards across publishers when it comes to file formatting and creation. Technological developments in publishing seem to sometimes move at lightning speed and ePublishers today are facing some tough choices. How much do they focus on keeping up with the technology v on the publishing? Should they outsource the technological aspects? If so, to what extent? I have opinions about these things…but that’s for another post.

    The ePub file format is gaining in popularity, thanks in part to the Smart Phone. Conversion of files to the ePub format can be a bit tricky as Moriah so aptly pointed out, and some base file types convert much more smoothly than others. I know, because we do these conversions for many of our affiliated publishers. One of the great advantages of digital publishing is that revisions – especially revisions of a file build – are something that can be done quickly and easily.

    I’m sorry you didn’t contact customer service when you first noticed the issue, we could have corrected it then. After reading your post, I contacted the publisher to request a clean base file. It’s a Sunday afternoon, the Sunday right before Christmas. They answered the phone and I had a clean base file in hand within thirty minutes. The ePub file has been rebuilt and you’ll see, if you download a fresh copy, that the formatting is corrected now.

    The questions you pose at the end of your post are all important ones and I can’t say how this publisher stacks up. My experience with them is from the perspective of a retailer, not an author. I can, however, add a question to your list for authors to consider. How available and responsive are they? At least today, in that regard, Tease has come through with flying colors.

    Obviously we want readers to enjoy the freebies we’re giving away. Good formatting is an important part of that. I hope you don’t let your initial impression be your final impression. In the future, should you encounter any issues with the titles we sell, do write and provide us with feedback.

    Lori James
    Chief Operating Officer
    All Romance eBooks

  10. Lori James
      · December 20th, 2009 at 8:12 pm · Link

    I intended to write this in as a PS. Obviously I was too eager to hit the “send” and get back to helping my son with his history research…

    Anne D –

    Conversion of PDF to ePub doesn’t work well, at least we’ve yet to find a converter that will do a decent job of it. If someone isn’t doing the build from scratch, we recommend using a Mobipocket or MS Reader file for conversion.

    Lillie A –

    We recommend publishers consider building their PDF files using a 5X8 page. The display is far more readable than when it’s formatted on an 8.5X11 page.

    Lori James
    Chief Operating Officer
    All Romance eBooks

  11. Shannon
      · December 20th, 2009 at 9:40 pm · Link

    I’ve replaced the body of my post with:

    Previously occupying this space was a rant about the formatting issues of the two books published by Tease Publishing, which I downloaded from All Romance eBooks. The problem apparently occurred during the conversion to ePub by ARe and had been addressed.

    I would have deleted the post, but that would also delete the comments, so I’ll leave it.

    Unfortunately, I rarely deal with the customer service of any company, just as I rarely return things to brick & mortar stores. A character flaw, I suppose. But I did re-download the books and they’re more correctly formatted than before.

    There’s a part of me that feels bad about raising a fuss about a free book, but the reality is that before this promotion and after this promotion, readers are paying money for this product. And when a publisher puts the conversion in somebody else’s hands, there’s a responsibility to ensure they’re providing the necessary and correct documents to convert and to follow up on quality control. And if part of your service is to convert files and you know that PDF to ePub is notoriously glitchy (which even I knew), you need to take the time to doublecheck the finished product. It took me maybe thirty seconds to redownload the corrected file and move it to my iPod and see that it was better.

    Honestly, if I hadn’t blogged about this I would simply have never read another Tease Publishing book again.

    Now, if one strikes my fancy, I’ll be willing to give it a shot because if there’s a problem I know it’ll be made right. (And I’ll contact customer service if there is.)

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