No More Typos In Kindle Ebooks? Amazon KDP Is Trying To Help

Kindle Typos

Typos in Kindle ebooks can happen.

No matter how careful you are in preparing your book for publishing, perfection is difficult.

However, some help is at hand.

And it comes from a surprising source.

KDP to the rescue

I was delighted to get an email from Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), pointing out that it had found three typos in one of my Kindle ebooks.

Hello,

We’re writing to let you know that readers have reported a problem in your book.

There are some words in your book that our spell check dictionary could not identify. If any of the words are not spelled the way you intended, please update your content and resubmit it to us.

You can also email us at [email protected] to let us know that the words are spelled correctly. Here are the words and their locations:

Kindle Location: 6866 ; Description: “there where times when” should be “there were times when”
Kindle Location: 7298 ; Description: “heart is was called” should be “heart it was called”
Kindle Location: 6967 ; Description: “thorn is the side” should be “thorn in the side”

After you’ve made the correction, please upload your revised content through the ‘Book Content’ section in your KDP Bookshelf. If you have further questions, please reply directly to this email and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

For further information regarding specific book errors (including why some errors are more critical than others), please see the Guide to Kindle Content Quality Errors at https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=200952510.

Thanks for using Amazon KDP!

 

Any means to rid typos in Kindle ebooks is a good thing

I was a bit surprised, though. I had published this particular ebook quite some time ago.

But I was somewhat relieved as well because this book is nearly 170,000 words long.

So three typos are not so bad in a book that long.

I worked extremely hard to ensure it was perfect and free of typos when I published it.

But for KDP to let me know means that they are getting very serious about improving the quality of Kindle ebooks in general.

It was interesting to note in its email, though, that it states that readers had reported the errors.

I’m not sure how this works, as eliminating typos in any way is good news, but why rely on readers?

KDP has a spell checker that analyses a new manuscript when uploading. It notifies authors of possible spelling errors before publication.

But to add contextual correction would be a big plus, and it is something that other online publishers should consider adding.

 

Is there a better way to catch typos in ebooks?

The only point that I wonder about is why Amazon relies on reader notifications to find these contextual typos on KDP?

An online proofreading program such as Grammarly does a very good job of finding contextual typos.

Why doesn’t KDP use something similar to scan new manuscripts and find these typos before publishing?

Anything that helps eradicate typos in self-published books is a good thing.

But I genuinely hope that KDP and other online publishers can find a way to do this before publication and not rely on readers to notify them of typos they find.

 

Typos elsewhere

For hardworking self-published authors, there is hope. It’s only a typo!

You are not alone in trying to perfect your ebook manuscript.

Perhaps, you are working even harder and making a better fist of it than some of the big publishers at removing every single typo.

While reading two separate posts on Forbes and The Verge regarding the annoyance of typos in ebooks, it was reassuring in some respects to note that the brunt of the complaints was directed at large publishers.

However, as I read the long list of comments on these posts, a few new pieces of information caught my attention.

However, there was one very important consideration that was missing.

The new information I found interesting was in one comment. I quote:

GAP ebooks: an explanation for why they are so shoddy.
I’ve just learned that the production AND PROOFREADING for Bantam/Spectra ebooks is done…in India. By people who barely speak English. (Apparently, this applies to every ebook published by the conglomerate, which includes Bantam.)

If this is true, it says a lot about how quality control in publishing is being outsourced to the cheapest contractor.

Another practice being used to convert backlisted manuscripts to electronic files is by using OCR. (Optical Character Recognition).

Anyone who has had any experience with OCR will know it is a process that is far from perfect. A quote from the Forbes article:

Unacceptable or not, that’s what someone has done. Simply OCR’d the printed text and not subbed *sic (sub-edited) it through again.

I shudder to think what the result would be, as my experience with OCR has been that the result always contains character errors on every single page.

 

Poor quality control

While these two areas gained a mention, along with the obvious blame on poor editing, sub-editing, and proofreading, the one missing reason for ebook errors is the process itself.

You can prepare a final text in HTML, docx, RTF, pdf, epub, or any number of other file formats. But it will then be converted yet again into the ebook files used by each ebook distributor or retailer.

Kindle, Apple, and Smashwords, and all the other platforms use a variety of ebook formats. Even the most perfect text can fail during these file conversions.

In other words, the words of the text need to convert into ones and zeros, and then back again into text. And rarely perfectly.

This differs entirely from the technique for a printed book. All of the text is reproduced using photographic processes and, therefore, prints exactly as intended.

From my own experience, when I have download copies of one of my ebooks from different sources, they are never exactly the same.

The most common problems are changes in formatting, removal of italicized text, removal, replacement or misinterpretation of accented characters, and random changes to fonts and paragraph styles.

Quite honestly, some conversions are good, while some are terrible. It also makes a difference if the file preparation used Apple programs or Microsoft programs.

Some ebook conversion programs may not work with Apple word processing programs.

Or if they do, they can still add code and spaces (sometimes seen as Apple Space in code) that can change formatting styles.

 

Summary

The grand ebook typo debate will continue, I am sure.

But it is worth noting that some of the complaints about authors, poor proofreading, or poor formatting could be the fault of the ebook process itself.

Most authors work very hard in the preparation of their ebook manuscripts.

E & OE

 

Update: Amazon takes action over poor quality in Kindle ebooks.

Derek Haines

A Cambridge CELTA English teacher and author with a passion for writing and all forms of publishing. My days are spent writing and blogging, as well as testing and taming new technology.

Avatar for Derek Haines

17 thoughts on “No More Typos In Kindle Ebooks? Amazon KDP Is Trying To Help

  • Avatar for Charles Howard
    April 23, 2018 at 5:58 pm
    Permalink

    The worst offenders I know of are maths books; for example “The Calculus Lifesaver” has a host of idiotic errors,, and various efforts from Schaum are even worse

    Reply
  • Avatar for Diane
    March 21, 2018 at 7:21 pm
    Permalink

    There is a way for readers to report typos, but probably it’s too obscure and only the most determined will stop to do it rather than continuing to read. See https://www.howtogeek.com/303981/how-to-report-typos-in-your-kindle-books/.

    I like the free classics available on Kindle, but the typos are abundant and really annoying. Of course this is because the books are simply scanned, not written (typed) by an author. I sometimes wonder if there would be a good market for classics that have been carefully proofread and corrected. How much more than zero would readers be willing to pay? I’m a great proofreader and wouldn’t mind this as a small business–if it worked! Any votes for the first classic (public domain) book I should try? :)

    Reply
      • Avatar for K. I. Fallang
        June 10, 2020 at 3:12 pm
        Permalink

        I think you missed the point of S.A. Hunt’s comment. LOL! You are missing the final zero in your post, which means it reads as “one hundred seventy HUNDRED words,” instead of “one hundred seventy THOUSAND words.” Change 170,00 to 170,000 and you’ll be golden!

        Reply
        • Avatar for Derek Haines
          June 10, 2020 at 3:17 pm
          Permalink

          Yep, you are right. I missed it. But not any longer. My typo, my fault. But now corrected.

          Reply
          • Avatar for Nikki
            August 19, 2020 at 4:19 am
            Permalink

            I understand why you would wonder about Amazon using readers to proof read books, however as an avid kindle reader I like the option. I often make highlights and notes while reading so it is no extra work to report typos. I think of it as volunteer work in an online Library.

  • Avatar for Stuart Aken
    November 14, 2015 at 12:12 pm
    Permalink

    Interesting idea, and I have no problem with such scrutiny. In fact, as a writer, I’d appreciate such detailed and free copy editing. One point, though: I work in fantasy, among other genres, and many of my stories contain characters and places with invented names. It will be interesting to see how this process copes with such idiosyncrasies.

    Reply
  • Avatar for Chris Meadows
    November 2, 2015 at 1:06 am
    Permalink

    That’s funny. Where did my comments and replies therein go?

    Moderator: Sorry, they got lost on our domain move. Here they are.

    The funny thing to me is, even if Amazon did run a spell checker on submitted e-books, it probably wouldn’t have caught your book’s typos because the typos all produced words that were nonetheless in the dictionary. Since “in,” “is,” and “where” are all real words, even though they were supposed to be “it,” “it,” and “were,” they would have passed a spellcheck.

    Be that as it may, why not rely on readers? If a reader notices a typo and is irritated enough to report it to Amazon, why shouldn’t they do something about it?

    I think that it would be a great idea for Amazon to incorporate typo reporting directly into their e-readers. If they can synchronize page position, highlighted passages, and so forth, why not let a reader long-tap on a word and choose “report typo”? They could have someone check each report to make sure it really is one, then aggregate the actual ones and send that off to the publisher (be he corporate or self). Even if most didn’t bother, the thousands upon thousands of actual human readers who did would make a far better way to catch typos after the fact than a spellchecker…

    Reply
    • Avatar for Derek Haines
      November 2, 2015 at 10:14 am
      Permalink

      Sorry about losing your comments, Chris. We moved our website to a new hosting, so we had a few gremlins appear during the few days it took to complete the move. Hopefully all is well now though.

      Reply
    • Avatar for Samarth Sharma
      April 13, 2018 at 9:32 pm
      Permalink

      Your Kindle eInk devices have a feature called Report Content Error that allows you to report content issues in the book. The feature is not currently available on other reading surfaces like Tablets and phones.

      You can reach the feature by long pressing a word, selecting more from the pop-up menu. You should see Report Content Error option on your screen. All valid errors are surfaced to publishers and authors for correction.

      Reply
      • Avatar for Richard
        April 18, 2018 at 6:41 pm
        Permalink

        Thanks for your comment. I read Kindle content on my PC and laptop, and this is exactly the feature that I used to use but is no longer available. Keep on reading!

        Reply
  • Avatar for Joseph Duemer
    October 29, 2015 at 11:13 am
    Permalink

    I found at least two typos in this blog post.

    1. “. . . pointing out that they had found a three typos in one of my books.”
    2. “The only point that I wonder about is why Amazon rely on reader notifications . . .”

    Number two may simply be British usage for collective nouns, but to an American ear/eye, “Amazon relies . . .” would be correct.

    As for your question about reader-detected typos, Kindle has a feature that allows readers to highlight a word or phrase and then select a menu item to report errors. Unfortunately, e-books are typically riddled with typos. Maybe it’s only because I am a professional editor, but I always report even small errors using this feature.

    Reply
    • Avatar for Derek Haines
      October 29, 2015 at 11:22 am
      Permalink

      Thank you for your comment, Joseph. Point taken and corrected for the first, but yes, I think the second is my British English usage where organisations or companies can be either plural or singular. So “the government have, or the government has” would both be correct.

      Reply
    • Avatar for Richard
      March 23, 2018 at 7:22 am
      Permalink

      Re: correction feature. I believe this has been discontinued. I cannot send corrections to my latest ebook purchase, ( which is riddled with errors), and when I look into older purchases in which I know I used this feature, it seems to no longer exist.

      Reply

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