Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Rude Awakening

In the olden days—like maybe four years ago—Kindle and Nook readers were fairly tolerant of formatting errors. The technology was brand spanking new and early adopters always accept a few lumps with hot innovations. Times have changed. The cost of eReaders have collapsed and, in many categories, ebooks outsell the old fashioned print variety. Readers have also become more demanding. They want their ebooks professionally formatted so they're never distracted from the story or subject matter.

For the most part, I write novels. My latest book, Principled Action, Lessons from the Origins of the American Republic, was non-fiction. Since it had a table of contents, index, footnotes, illustrations, and section headings, I had it professionally formatted for every eReader on the market.

I thought my novels were different. They were narratives with only chapter breaks to interrupt the flow of words. In fact, I had sold tens of thousands with nary a complaint. Occasionally, I would do an update when I became aware of an indentation problem or a stray character that defied interpretation, but these were rare.

Then I got an email note from Amazon saying a reader had complained that one of my novels did not include a Table of Contents. Amazon concurred and suggested I add one. At first I thought this was odd. I don't have chapter titles, so the TOC would merely be a numerical list. Granted, it could be  navigation tool, but would it really be that helpful in a straightforward novel? Then I checked the five novels I had backlogged to read on my own Kindle. Each had a table of contents and most were only a numerical list. Darn. Times had changed and I hadn't kept up. What else was I missing. Were there other glitches that would jerk my readers out of the story and back to reality?

Since I was busy getting Steve Dancy out of trouble once again, I didn't want to invest the time to insure that my six Kindle books were completely up to snuff. My solution was to go back to my non-fiction book formatter. I used "eB Format" and like the first time, my experience was excellent. The job was done with an expertise that would have taken me at least weeks to learn, and they were reasonably priced and quick. If you have ebooks that need added features or need a thorough scrubbing for format glitches, I highly recommend eB Format. Click on their logo if you would like to visit their site.

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