Saturday, January 16, 2016

A mystery about a mystery: How can two books have the same set of reviews?

I am quite fond of murder mysteries, especially British ones. One of my favorite authors is Dorothy L. Sayers, author of a series featuring Lord Peter Wimsey, the younger son of a duke, and an amateur detective. I've read all of them, some of them many times,  When we renovated our house, I donated 18 cartons of books, including all my Sayers copies to the local thrift shop. However, when Open Road Media started reissuing them as ebooks, I bought some of them, so I could reread them when I felt like it. I loved what a fantastic job OR did on them. I even wrote a post about it.

Now, however, someone else is publishing Dorthy L Sayers (presumably, it's out of copyright) and they are no Open Road. You can tell it's a different version because it not only has a different cover, it has a different ASIN (Amazon's unique stock number). The Open Road cover is shown above.

I got an email promotion for Clouds of Witness for only 99¢ (ASIN = B00LDSUTMC). There was no warning on the Amazon page saying "You bought this book on [date]" so I didn't realize I already had the Open Road version (ASIN = B008JVJKXK). I bought the 99¢ version and it was terrible. I have never seen an ebook with so damn many errors!  Most obviously, there were 25 instances of [garbled] and 26 of [missing] they had not bothered to clean up.

They looks like this:

“[Garbled] least--not [garbled] see him. But there was poor Denis's body,

“My lords, it is your happy privilege [missing] his grace the Duke of Denver these [missing] of his exalted rank. When the clerk [missing] address to you severally the solemn [missing] find Gerald, Duke of Denver, [missing] guilty or not guilty of the dreadful [missing] every one of you may, with a confidence [missing] any shadow of doubt, lay his hand and say, 'Not guilty, upon my honour.'“

There were also plenty of plain old typos:

“What did you say you found on that skin Bunter?” (this should say "skirt," not skin)
. . .and bunked Silly-ass thing to do . . . * (missing the period at the end of the sentence)
“The position of the fingers being towards the house appears, does it not, to negative the suggestion of dragging?” (should be "negate")

But because it turns out Amazon lumps the various editions together, there is one set of reviews. You see the same reviews for the Open Road version, the crappy, cheapo version, and the print version. People are giving the book one star because this version looks so bad!

 I didn't write a review, but I did email Amazon and ask for my money back. It had been more than the 7-day limit, but they credited me anyway. I wish they would make the seller take down the new version.  Formatting that could make me feel cheated after paying 99¢ is truly terrible formatting.

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