I just came across an interesting book that my neighbor purchased on Amazon. The book, Virginia Woolf's 'The Voyage Out', should have been remarkable only in a literary sense. However, as it turned out, the book and it's contents were highly unusual due to the (hopefully) unique practices of the publisher. The book was an unedited, raw OCR dump, and as a result is nearly illegible. The only place that a book like this could be sold is on Amazon, where the buyer can't handle the book before purchase, since the errors are obvious to anybody who actually attempts to read the book. Even Amazon's 'look inside' feature wouldn't be a warning, as it links to another publisher's version of the book. The book was published by General Books LLC, so be warned of any other 'books' published by this company.
My review can be seen here
, and I have copied it down below in case General Books LLC's lawyers have it removed.
This review is for the General Books LLC edition of this book, and is not a critique of Virginia Woolf herself or her writing style. My neighbor made the mistake of purchasing this book on Amazon, actually thinking that it would be readable. It was not. From the looks of things, the contents of this edition were taken from an OCR scan, and just dumped on the page willy-nilly by a high speed book printer. There was not even the slightest attempt to edit the contents of this edition. No spellcheck was completed, and I doubt if anybody even looked at the contents of this edition before it was sold. I was unable to read even a few paragraphs without being forced to parse out garbage characters, odd paragraph breaks, obvious errors, and missing punctuation. In a few cases, entire sentences are illegible. |
In fact, there is a disclaimer opposite the Table Of Contents which claims:
"Limit of liability, disclaimer of warranty: While the publisher and author have used their best efforts in preparing this book, they make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this book and specifically disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose." It sounds as if the publisher knows that their edition is unedited garbage.
"No warranty may be created ore extended by sales representatives or written sales materials." Note that there is a typo in the disclaimer. Does the publisher even have employees that speak English?
"We have recreated this book from the original using Optical Character Recognition software to keep the cost of the book as low as possible. Therefore, could you please forgive any spelling mistakes, missing or extraneous characters that may have resulted from worn or smudged pages? When in doubt, please consult the original scanned book which may be available from our website." Think about it. If you had the chance to read this disclaimer before purchasing this book, would you actually pay money for it?
I've dealt with raw OCR scans before, and it does take quite a bit of editing to clean them up enough to be legible. A simple spell-check would have found most of these errors. Given the raw data and PDFs of the scans, I could probably do it myself in a day or so. The problem is that this publisher didn't even make an effort to do so. In fact, I doubt if they even have one editor on their staff. The fact that they have typos in their legal boilerplate is probably proof of that theory.
I think the publisher is doing a serious discredit to Virginia Woolf, Amazon's customers, and Amazon.com itself by attempting to market this book as anything but kindling. It is a waste of paper, ink, money, and time.