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Customer Review

148 of 164 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great book, terrible Kindle conversion, 15 Oct. 2010
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This review is from: Surface Detail (Culture series Book 9) (Kindle Edition)
This is a great addition to the Culture series of books - was very much looking forward to it, and enjoyed it an awful lot. I won't go into the detail of plot, characters etc. any more than saying that it was great, they were interesting, etc.

As a book, it deserves five stars. The hardcover version would have got this from me.

However, I read the Kindle version, and the Kindle version has been lazily put together, I'm guessing from an earlier manuscript version. It has missing or half completed paragraphs. Very frustrating.

It flows quite often from one sub-chapter to the next without a line break to let you know - you're reading the dialogue from one perspective, get confused after a few lines and a paragraph later realise that you've got to go back as it's actually another character's dialogue.

There are spelling / word usage mistakes - not hundreds, but definitely 30+, which sometimes you can skim past but a few had me furrowing my brow trying to think what Banks actually meant/wrote.

In short, I still enjoyed it, but am putting in a complaint to Amazon about their shoddy work.
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Showing 11-20 of 31 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on 22 Oct 2010 20:42:02 BDT
Specky says:
Disagree. There is (as yet) no separate kindle review and, on this site, many consumers use the kindle format. Yes, I want to know how good or bad the book itself is, but if there's a problem with the download I need to know that too.

Kindle reviewers should state this in the first line, first words even. Then if you're a "normal" consumer you can ignore it if you wish.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Oct 2010 22:58:37 BDT
J. D. Ludlow says:
The problem here is I only see this if I actually open the reviews. If all I do is look at the review breakdown (the dropdown that appears if I hover over the rating) then I just see x number of 1* reviews. Not that those reviews are irrelevant to me because they are based entirely on factors that won't affect me.

This isn't the reviewer's fault, it's Amazon's fault for not handling this type of situation better, and for not providing a better representation of the book for the Kindle. But that doesn't change the fact that the review is, for anyone who doesn't have a Kindle, flawed and misleading because it skews the results.

I suppose this is like DVDs and BluRays being rated on the extras, or video games being rated on the multiplayer.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Oct 2010 08:28:58 BDT
jrhbcn says:
Yes, amazon should provide a way to rate the formats differently than content but my point is that I prefer to see this kind of reviews here at least rather than not seeing them, even though that might reduce the overall rating.

> I suppose this is like DVDs and BluRays being rated on the extras

No, this is like the DVD is fine but the bluray is missing several seconds/minutes through the movie!! it is not about extras.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Oct 2010 10:21:47 BDT
J. D. Ludlow says:
It's about reviewing based on factors only a small percentage of the review audience are interested in. Only a small percentage of a review audience for a bluray consider the extras to be significant. Only a small percentage of a review audience for a Serface Detail consider the Kindle format to be significant.

So actually it's pretty much the same. I'm sorry that the Kindle format didn't work out for you. I just don't care enough to factor it into review scores.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Oct 2010 16:35:02 BDT
Last edited by the author on 24 Oct 2010 18:08:42 BDT
SA says:
I've just emailed Amazon support about this problem. The Kindle formatting is appalling, and if I were Iain Banks, I'd be furious that my work had been treated so shoddily.

I've noticed that the Kindle edition has been removed from sale, and have asked support if I should expect a fixed copy to be sent to my Kindle. If not, I'd rather have a refund and buy the real version. If this isn't a one-off, I'll also be looking at a refund for my Kindle. I've enjoyed using it so far - it's an amazing bit if kit - but if Amazon/publishers treat Kindle readers with contempt, it ruins the whole reading experience.

EDIT.

Amazon support brilliant. phoned me within 90 minutes and updated to (hopefully - I haven't read it all yet!) properly formatted version.

Advice for those affected - Click "right" on bad copy, then "Remove from device"

Go to "Home", and use the page forward button until you get to "Archived Items". Find "Surface Detail" in there, update, and it will download the new version.

Posted on 29 Oct 2010 09:26:24 BDT
Couldn't agree more with the original review. I received a Kindle as a gift and this was my first purchase. Great story (I've not quite finished yet) but full of formatting problems, particularly in the second half. The text flowing between sub-chapters is the main problem, and has really spoiled some sections for me. I don't know if this a common problem with Kindle versions but I'm reluctant to buy any more in case it is.

Posted on 29 Oct 2010 18:44:10 BDT
redshift says:
U.S. kindle version without formatting errors...... note the different publishers.

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Oct 2010 23:18:40 BDT
SA says:
Update - still errors in the Kindle update I received, most notably

- sub-chapters running into each other
- hyphens I can only assume were used to split words across lines for print justification remaining in the Kindle version.

Great book, but I can't leave a review as it would be unfair to Banks. If I bought an mp3 that had skips and missing beats, I'd want a proper replacement.

In reply to an earlier post on 31 Oct 2010 21:15:29 GMT
I am not sure that 'only a small percentage' consider the Kindle format to be significant. Kindle sales already exceed hardback sales on Amazon, and will outstrip paperback within 2-3 years in the US, with the UK a year or so behind that.

So a better comparison would be if the hardback edition was missing pages, or had blurred paragraphs overrunning the page edges.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Nov 2010 11:21:28 GMT
Tadhg Kelly says:
Didn't fix the problem though. It just downloaded the same not-fixed version again.