June 15th, 2010
Here’s another author who would make a great Kindle screensaver: Rudyard Kipling.
But watch out if you try to read a Kipling work on your Kindle…
My girlfriend’s been contemplating a trip to India, so I tried downloading some of Kipling’s classic India stories to my Kindle. But soon I discovered comments on Amazon warning me that for some of the free editions, the formatting was absolutely terrible.
No italics. Straight quotes. Dashes are hyphens. No paragraph re-wrapping at all – the original book’s line endings (or perhaps every 80 characters) are just hard-coded,
Loads of typos/ocr/spellcheck errors – e.g. “Thou Knobbiest” for “Thou Knowest”.
Avoid. It’s terrible.
That’s for Kipling’s story Kim, about the young orphan of a British soldier stationed in India. And another reviewer seemed to be mimicking the bad formatting you’d experience if you tried to read the ebook, by adding lots of unnecessary extra line breaks!
This one’s not properly formatted
for the Kindle
It will drive you nuts
What’s sad is that sometimes the editorial problems are more serious. One Amazon reviewer noticed that a very crucial part of the text was left out of one ebook version of “Just So Stories” — the poems!
Being a free Kindle edition, I was expecting that the drawings and their attached descriptions would be missing. What I was not expecting was for the little poems often found in the stories to also be missing. Things like the Sloka the Parsee sings after the Rhinoceros eats his cake, that are usually block-quoted and italicized in published versions, are not included. The stories can certainly be followed without them, but as the text that IS there specifically says a little poem or song is going to be related to the reader, the gaps are quite obvious.
I’m sure this will all get sorted out over time, as more editions become available for great works of classic literature. In fact, the free edition of Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” is already in the top 100 of Amazon’s best-selling free ebooks.
But readers still have some complaints…
As to formatting of this kindle edition: there are blocks of Kipling’s poetry in between the stories, some of which was difficult to read as the formatting had not carried over well to this Kindle edition. Not a critical issue, but Kipling’s poetry is excellent and the formatting errors were annoying.