Ereaders like the 7.8″ Aura One can be finicky about formatting, and crappy ePubs can slow down tasks such as the selection of text for annotation.
With public domain titles I’ve enjoyed the best luck with editions from Feedbooks (public domain section here).
If you’re really, really persnickety about formatting, typos and other details, however, another choice might be Standards Ebook. It offers ePub, AZW3, and pure ePub3 along with instructions for using them.
Standard “takes ebooks from sources like Project Gutenberg, formats and typesets them using a carefully designed and professional-grade style guide, lightly modernizes them, fully proofreads and corrects them, and then builds them to take advantage of state-of-the-art ereader and browser technology.”
Alas, Standard offers a fraction of the number of titles that Feed does—only around 70. But it’s still worth checking out, and you might even want to volunteer and produce a book under Standard’s rules.
The choices of authors and titles seems pretty, er, standard for the most part: Verne, Flaubert, Wells, Thoreau, Balzac, London, Conrad, Twain and other old favorites (although I also saw Dick).
Give Standard a try and let TeleRead community members know what you think of the books in terms of formatting, typo control, aesthetics and the rest.
If Standard editions are what they’re cracked up to be, they could a natural for libraries interested in providing the most usable editions for modern readers. The idea isn’t to preserve books exactly for researchers. For example, Standard if need be changes spellings to make books more accessible.
Outdated information on the Standard site: On the About page, Standard says Project Gutenberg “makes it a point to only provide ebooks in what they call ‘plain-vanilla ASCII’ format.” No longer true! You can normally download ePub, HTML, PDF and Kindle versions, for example. I know firsthand. I can recall years ago telling PG that ePub would be around to stay. PG listened. Ideally the perfectionists at Standard can correct the error.
Thanks for the helpful information. One of the many reasons I opposed Google’s book scanning was that it was being done so sloppily, both as a reading/research tool and as OCRed text. Google’s massive but bad approach prevented better approaches. I also read the letters and court filing in favor of the Google book settlement. Virtually every one of them was someone who couldn’t see beyond “Gee, free books. I like that.” Tacky, tasteless and shallow.
We’ve probably missed the opportunity to do digitization right thanks to Google. But that copyright extension that Hollywood/Disney bribed Congress to create in the late 1990s could have been a blessing in disguise. It would have given us twenty years to create quality versions of as many pre-1923 books as possible and organize them well rather than this massive word-search, bad OCR nonsense. Then once that extension ended and 1923 and later books began to enter the public domain, we’d have a year to process each additional year of books.
Amazon has engaged is similar misbehavior driven, as you might expect by greed. My improved edition of an 1890s book, Across Asia on a Bicycle, was so highly recommended by biking websites, that it was the number one hit on Google. But there was a time when, if you searched for it on Amazon by the full title, it did not appear at all, although long out-of-print and unavailable editions from the 1890s did.
Why? Because my paperback edition was the least expensive edition and even my hardback cost less than a grossly overpriced fascimile someone was selling. Amazon, seeing that inflated price, hide my title from their search results. That inflated prices for customers and gave them lower-quality editions—all to make filthy rich Bezos just a tiny bit richer. That’s why I regard anyone who trusts Amazon as a fool of the first order. As one Amazon software developer told me, “Never trust Amazon search results.”
Bezos attitude mirrors that of many of his fellow billionaires. We’re repeating the horrors of the robber barons of the late nineteenth century. First they rob, then to ease their conscience, they give to various charities they like. As some noted of the robber barons, they should have just not robbed in the first place.
Never have the ‘malfactors of great wealth’ been more arrogant and unpleasant to have around. They travel by private jet and criticize ordinary folk for using air conditioning. In the 1990s, when I met a few billionaire want-to-be’s, I was tempted to tell them, “When the revolution comes and they’re taking people like you to the wall, don’t expected me to hide you.” You can find an illustration of their trickery here:
The list of companies involved reads like a who’s who of high tech, including Adobe, Apple, Facebook, Google, IBM and Microsoft. As best I can tell, that lowered the taxes they paid in the EU by about 800%. And needless to say it wasn’t a loophole a small business could use.
And those malfactors of great wealth, knowing the dubious legality of their tax evasions and crony capitalism, are pulling out all the stops to elect Hillary, herself a great malfactor and a beneficiary, many times over, of $250,000 for a single speech. Does anyone really believe they found her that interesting a speaker? I can’t stand listening to her for more than about ten seconds.
Yeah, it’s a lot like that Disney payoff that got copyright extended.
As one Amazon software developer told me, “Never trust Amazon search results.”
Here is one example. The Chilean author Roberto Ampuero has written a number of mysteries with interesting political twists, along with several volumes of his memoirs. Ampuero has a unique perspective. As a member of Communist Youth, after the coup he fled Chile for East Germany. In East Germany he fell in love with the daughter of a member of Cuba’s Nomenklatura. He married her and moved to Cuba. After his divorce he was able to get to East Germany. Unfortunately, one one of his books- The Neruda Case- has been translated into English.
One of his better-known books is El último tango de Salvador Allende (Spanish Edition) [Salvador Allende’s Last Tango]. When you type “Roberto Ampuero” in the Amazon search engine, and follow the link Amazon’s Roberto Ampuero Page, you find a German translation of that book, but not the original in Spanish. When you follow the link See search results for author “Roberto Ampuero” in Books, Amazon displays the original Spanish language version.
Ampuero has written a short editorial on Chile’s Forgetful Memory.
Manybooks.net presents free public domain books with many choices of format. The ones I have read seem to be free of typos and other errors. They are my first choice for public domain books. Also, those on mobilread.com which I have downloaded appear to be very carefully done.
They pass the “Heart of Darkness” test. The Project Gutenberg text has a minor error is first line – the names of ships should be in italics, but the hold over plain-vanilla text as never fixed this classic. A lot of Gutenberg texts are like this – the old ASCII couldn’t show italics and the texts have never been corrected now that technology has caught up. It’s still plain text on their HTML version today.
Good job Standards!
Reblogged this on Don Massenzio's Blog.