I’ve been receiving some complaints about errors in the Young Wizards US/Canadian (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) edition ebooks over the last few months, primarily having to do with typos and scanning errors. See Chris Meadows’ posting here, for example, at Teleread. (Please note: this problem has nothing to do with either the new Young Wizards international editions that are coming out from Errantry Press, or with the upcoming revised Author’s Cut editions.)
So I took this problem to my editor at HMH. She got in touch with their digital editions department, the head of which got back to us a day or so ago, saying:
As you may know all titles are put through extensive error checking but some do slip through especially in books we have had to scan rather than take from production files. [DD’s note: and this means at least my first four books at Harcourt, if not the first six.]
The type of error most likely to slip through is a replacement of one perfectly good word by another during optical character recognition — “die” for “the” is common.
We have now developed additional error checking that looks specifically for all of these incorrect substitutions that we know about.
What I would suggest to you and Diane is that before she does anything we run all of her books through this additional process.
Then in one way or another she can look at them and tell us if we missed anything. That would be very valuable information to me because we could add it to our error checking.
This correction would be done at the xml level, not the epub level. This is a more basic level and would ensure going forward that these errors would never occur again.
If this is agreeable to her and to you that’s what we’ll do.
And it’s definitely agreeable, so that’s what I’ll be doing. My editor tells me that this process will take about two months to complete. I’ll report back then on how things look. (The publisher is also sending me a complete set of the ebooks so that I can see what US / Canadian buyers have been seeing.)
And a side note to those interested: I gather from the interchange of emails on which I was “copied-in” that customer feedback is one of the factors that has been driving the development of these extra layers of error-checking. So, those of you who have been writing directly to publishers about these issues — keep doing it! It’s having an effect.
More on this as the business goes forward.