Digital Book World has an ongoing discussion about the quality of eBooks that I find particularly interesting. Recently, I bought the digital version of a new book by an author I have been following for as long as I can remember, and was so disappointed with its quality that I wrote to the publishers of that edition, saying that I thought she deserved better. To my surprise, I received a prompt and very polite reply, thanking me for my comments. And the publisher not only revised his formatting, but sent me a free copy of what was now a very professional eBook, to demonstrate that he had done it. Hopefully, the rest of her eBooks have been revised equally well.
In my experience, publishers have jibbed at the cost of a well polished digital edition. They have already paid out large on editing, production and promotion of the print edition, and the eBook is just an optional extra. Perhaps there is even a perception that eBook readers are not as discerning as print book readers -- that they are the cheap end of the market. For instance, it was very disappointing to me that Tupaia, the Remarkable Story of Captain Cook's Polynesian Navigator, which was a beautiful, lavishly illustrated volume in print form, was without illustrations in the digital version. It was a matter of costs, I am sure. The British Library, which owns the originals of Tupaia's artwork, is not cheap to deal with. But without the illustrations, the book loses much of its meaning, and most of its richness.
Now it seems that the era of economizing on the digital edition is coming to an end, thankfully. According to a new survey on trends in the digital publishing industry publishers are increasingly concerned with quality as they move towards digital productions. Of the respondents, 84 percent are planning to publish digitally in 2014 (an increase of 21 percent over the prior year), and 52 percent of respondents said quality of digital conversion was the aspect of greatest concern.
The survey was jointly conducted by Data Conversion Laboratory (DCL), an industry leader in organizing and converting content into digital formats, and Bowker®, the world’s leading provider of bibliographic information management solutions for publishers, booksellers, and libraries.