Lately, I’ve been revisiting some of my favorite mysteries, primarily Jeffrey Deaver’s Lincoln Rhymes collection. I own most of the books in hard back, but I’m a Scribd user, so I downloaded several onto my iPhone to read on the go (I admit the Kindle and/or iPhone is a lot easier to carry than a stack of books).
However, I’ve noticed a trend. As I revisit this series, all of which I have read in the past, I’m noticing some editing errors. I’m not one to be an over-bearing, requires perfect editing, reading. No one is perfect. I get that and I’m fine with a few errors in a book. It happens. But I didn’t notice them the first time I read the books.
Last week, I dragged one of the hard backs out to compare notes. I’d found ten errors in the e-book copy (I mark them as I find them). And holy cow, they existed in the hard back copy that I had bought when the book was first released. I didn’t notice them the first time through. Why am I noticing them now?
I think there are a couple of different factors. One, I’m now an author and critically aware of errors in general. Not so much in my own stuff (I’m usually blind to it by the time I finish the writing process), but in other books. Two, I read a lot of indies and as I said earlier, no one is perfect… I don’t mind a handful of errors, as long as they are not grotesquely prolific through-out the book, but I read the reviews and see the same complaints over and over and over again… needs proof-reader. Three, I can control everything about the book on my Kindle or iPhone. This includes font size, color of the background, etc. While I know cream is the industry standard for printed books, I don’t like it. I’ve never liked it. I prefer to read on white paper. Call me crazy, but I find it easier (hence why all my books are printed on white paper instead of the industry standard cream). I also prefer better spacing. These things are out of my control in a print book, but not in an ebook.
This third factor is huge. I read fast. I read even faster on an ebook than a print book… but I find I read more of the words in an ebook. Strange since I read faster on the ereader, but I do. I actually read more of the words instead of my mind just filling in the words I would normally skip or only partially read before moving to the next. Therefore, I find more errors.
With this in mind, I have to wonder if the ebook revolution is part of the reason for people suddenly “thinking” that there are more errors in books now than before. I remember in college reading a history text book and finding that a paragraph just ended, mid-sentence and thinking that was very strange. Recently, I pulled out the book to refresh my memory on a specific chapter that I wanted to use in my writing. The chapter contained three spelling errors, errors I had not caught the first time I had read it. Errors that now appeared glaringly obvious. I’m beginning to believe that we, as a society, with the increased use of technology that allows us to control how we read, are becoming increasingly aware of the mistakes made in books… and as a result, we think the quality is dropping. I also am beginning to believe that this is incorrect. The errors have always been there and we are just not noticing them because we can adjust the reading to meet our specific reading preferences.
Just something to consider.