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Kindle e-Books will have a warning message if they have spelling mistakes or bad formatting

21 January 2016

From GoodEreader:

There are thousands of e-books on the Amazon Kindle Store that have content errors. This can be as simple as a series of spelling mistakes or the book might have formatting issues. Starting February 3, 2016 Amazon will begin showing customers a warning message on the Kindle store detail pages of books that contain several validated quality issues. The warning message will be removed as soon as Amazon received an updated file from self-published authors or publishing companies.

Amazon has two stages of the warning system that will go live within a few short weeks. If an e-book only contains a few spelling mistakes, but is still readable, a simple warning message will appear on the details page of that specific title. It will make the average book buyer aware that there are some issues. If the book has bad formatting issues, and basically renders it unreadable Amazon will suppress it and the book listing will be removed.

Link to the rest at GoodEreader


69 Comments to “Kindle e-Books will have a warning message if they have spelling mistakes or bad formatting”

  1. uh, the ebooks already have that warning message. This isn’t new.

    • I’ve never seen those warnings. I usually look for the Kindle-specific reviews on Amazon just to find out about those errors. Last year I must have reported an error on every other page of a the Del Ray and the Delphi editions of Conan. I switched from one to the other at one point just to see if there would be fewer errors. I didn’t have any warning ahead of time that there’d be so many typos and missing paragraphs.

      I want this warning to be more prominent, and I hope that’s what Amazon is saying they’ll do. MTV claimed directors started doing better videos when the channel started listing their names in the beginning / end of the videos.

      • Amazon has been suspending listings since at least 2011.

        I’ve seen them once or twice, and from what I have heard Amazon will only let the ebook back in after it has passed review.

  2. Great, so if you have a new species like Caitian, Rakshan, or chakat you get it dinged as errors? Or names like Quickdash or Longsock? Or they take the translift instead of an elevator?

    Come to think on it, very few books would pass their ‘no errors’ test then — heck, a no errors ‘pass’ might be taken as a warning that the writer didn’t come up with anything new! 😛

    • And what about the not-made-up words that aren’t in the dictionary Amazon is using?

      • Never mind the number of laughs I get from Word ‘suggesting’ alternate wording of things.

        Unless they’re going to have a ‘real’ editor read each ebook and not some computer program (and even using different editors will give you different answers), I see this as a ‘fail to have a clue’ on somebody’s part.

      • I have a children’s book under a pen name. A reviewer helpfully warned others about words in the text that aren’t real words. Never mind that the tale is about a mouse and a cat who make a variety of noises that are expressed in non-words.

      • Michael Kozlowski

        Many authors who make up words, often have lexicons at the beginning of the book that outline the words and their meanings. I think Tad Williams does this, as does a number of other high-fantasy authors.

    • I would hope that people who read sci-fi / fantasy / horror would not think of those as typos. But now I’m thinking that this is a question that should be clarified from the get-go.

      I just now remembered Barbara complaining that some illiterate person thought a French word she used was a typo or something, and someone illiterate at Amazon tech support let the complaint stand. I don’t want the warnings to apply to those scenarios, just for books ritten lyke the author never did the Booklarning. in skool.

      • Didn’t Tolkien have a go-round with an overzealous copyeditor who tried to “correct” some of his archaic spellings?

        Hello? Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University here?

    • I have three books using non-English names for my Catmages (most of them are Hebrew words and names). Haven’t been dinged by Amazon once. I don’t think this is an issue.

      • I finally bothered to click the link, seems this is just for ‘Content published through Kindle Direct Publishing’ …

        But it still makes things a bit ‘tricky’ …

      • Lucky you, that you haven’t picked up a grammar troll who claims with complete unspecificity There are spelling and grammatical errors all throughout the book.

        Odd how out of 34 reviews, that’s the only 1 star, the only such complaint. Is Amazon going to be amenable to defending ourselves from such assaults or do we just have to accept it?

        • I’ve heard that this is a way certain “people” try to sabotage authors. On one of my more popular titles, I received a message from KDP informing me they’d had so many complaints about a typo that I had to correct it, or they would un-publish the book.

          That raised my eyebrows. They had so many complaints about ONE typo that they threatened to pull my book?

          Apparently, it didn’t raise anyone’s eyebrows at KDP They were serious about it, nevermind the fact that they could easily flag those complaints for closer examination, and in doing so probably locate a number of fraudulent accounts. I corrected the typo and never heard another word about it, so apparently the culprit gave up and moved on.

      • And I’ve gotten dinged for using “shamaness”, “dhampyr”, “geeze”, and “supes”.

        Out of 5 notices, only one was an actual mistake.

    • I’ve recently gotten a couple of warning e-mails from Amazon about mistakes in my latest book, which is chock-full of made-up words. None of the errors mentioned those words – they had things like wrongly using ‘for’ instead of ‘for’ and a missing word. So I don’t think F&SF authors have anything to worry about.

  3. Is he claiming that a story he wrote a few days ago is responsible for something Amazon’s been doing for years?

  4. Loretta Ellingsworth

    Is this going to catch homonyms? I read one book where if there was a possible homonym the author picked the wrong one, i.e. birth a boat at a pier.

  5. The Dr. Seuss books will all be taken down.

  6. Did you notice the point under Disappointing Content? (Kindle’s Guide to Content Quality)

    • Content that does not provide an enjoyable reading experience

    Well, that’s certainly subjective, isn’t it?

  7. ’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
    Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
    All mimsy were the borogoves,
    And the mome raths outgrabe.

    There goes Through the Looking Glass.

    I use alfandega and other Portuguese words in a work. Will I be dinged for that?

    Stupid is as stupid does.
    –Forrest Gump

  8. There are people who complain about things they don’t understand. I cannot see how harassing authors because some reader incorrectly thinks objets is missing a c. (Yes, Jamie, you remember that!)

    On some level it’s crowdsourcing illiteracy.

  9. This is just an intensification of something Amazon is already doing. And all it will do is makes things worse for authors, many of whom have already received takedown notices for British spelling reported as incorrect, plus the many others that have been noted. From my observations of one and two-star ratings, I believe that the general low level of literacy is the primary driver.

    Also, judging from the quality of best-sellers in some genres, the majority of readers simply don’t care about such niceties as spelling, grammar, word usage, etc.

    Samples are available for decision-making about purchases. Refunds are available for real dissatisfaction. The only sensible reason for taking a book down for corrections is formatting that makes reading difficult.

    On the other hand, Mr. Kozlowski’s article should be taken down for:”There is no reporting options for content errors…”

  10. This could be a real problem for one of my WIP’s. It’s written in first-person from the perspective of a South Texas boy, so it has a lot of abbreviations and such to simulate the speech patterns used in rural areas here.

    Has anyone had to deal with this yet? If so, what is the appeal process like?

    • I’ve written all of my novels in alternating first person POV. I put the first and second ones out in 2010, so they’ve been out for a while. Because they’re fantasy, I have included a number of made up words and alternate spellings–for instance, in one of my countries, they spell werewolf as weirwolf. One character starts out as a bird and as a result, almost misses the critical period for learning human language–her spelling, especially in her younger POV, has a number of deliberate errors and idiosyncracies. Another character from a different country forms her plurals the way they do in Chinese–two eye instead of two eyes, for instance. There’s a first time for everything, but I’ve never had a reader who complained about grammar or spelling. Most people seem to understand that it’s part of that particular character’s voice.

      Aside from typos I caught myself, the only issue I’ve ever had to fix was a formatting glitch in one of my books where the reader couldn’t change the color of the text on his/her Kindle. KDP e-mailed me and let me know about the issue, I fixed it, re-uploaded the file, and all was fine.

      • Excellent, thank you for your response, Karen.

        • You’re welcome–glad my comment was helpful. Good luck with your WIP. First person can be a fun POV to write in because you get to develop character voice not just in dialogue but in narration. I hope that there are always readers who agree and enjoy reading it as much as we enjoy writing it. 🙂

  11. Well that would be pretty much every book on Amazon then. I’ve only read one book published this century that doesn’t have any mistakes in it, and that was book 4 of a 7 book series.

    • I’m wondering if this is only for indie authors or also for mainstream pubbed authors because I just finished a very long book – mainstream – and I noted quite a few errors in both formatting and spelling. Didn’t occur to me to complain. The book was still a good read.
      So I’m pretty much agreeing with you. Hard to find a book without a single error.

      • I’ve been rereading a lot of the classics lately. Yep, still finding typos in books first published over one hundred years ago. Not formatting errors and British English, but actual typos. But there are also plenty of formatting errors. I assume this is because these books were scanned from paper using accident-prone software and then edited by overworked, bleary-eyed editors.

        I also read a book by one of the world’s best selling thriller writers that had twenty-five typos in the first hundred pages. Not that he actually wrote or edited the book, but it does make one question the validity of KDP’s approach to the problem.

  12. I did notice that when I bought a couple of Harlequin’s older print titles, reissued through Ellora’s Cave, they’d been badly scanned and were full of typos. I posted my complaint on my ‘Zon review but nowhere did it advise me as a customer, of the poor scanning and quality control issues.

  13. I have a related question to this topic. As a reader sometimes when I see a typo while reading a book on my kindle I highlight the word and submit a content error. If its a typo I offer the corrected spelling or fix in the comments.

    Does this feedback even matter? Does the error get corrected by Amazon or does it get forwarded to the author? Do authors even care about this data?


    • I think most authors would, and in addition would use a specific report to correct such an error and update the file. I’m always grateful to receive such a note from a reader.

      I think I’ve gotten a couple of notes from Amazon that something might contain an error, but I don’t believe I’ve ever received a specific one. Which is why the OP concerns me, in fact; almost universally, what KDP has dinged as potential spelling errors in some of the books I’ve published have been deliberate choices.

      (While I acknowledge that it’s difficult to discern when an author who knows better deliberately “breaks a rule” versus when an author does so out of ignorance, I think there are other problems generally associated with the latter that often bear it out as such.)

    • CB,

      Yes, Amazon forwards those errors to the author (you’ll get an email from Amazon specifying the errors and where in the text they appear), and yes authors take them very seriously.

      I don’t always upload a whole new version of my manuscript just to fix two typos, but when I have several of them I sure will. KDP makes it so easy, why not up the quality of your book with the click of a button? I very much appreciate it when readers report a typo that hasn’t been caught up to that point.

      About half of them have not been actual typos, just instances where a reader thought (incorrectly) that he/she knew the grammar better than me or didn’t agree with my usage. I ignore those but appreciate the consideration.

  14. CB, my answer to your question is: no, never. I know at least one of my self-published books on Amazon has at least one typo in it, regardless of my OCD on typos. It has never been reported to me. I suppose I should go in and reload the book, but I moved on.

    What are TPV minions’ opinions? Should I correct and reissue, or let it be?

    • Reissuing the book could cause technical problems down the road.

      I’d leave it until you decide to update the book with a new cover,etc.

    • I’d say unless it was a show stopper to leave it or give it a month/year to see if any other errors are found and fix them all at once. (Murphy’s law of the web is another error will be reported only after you’ve hit ‘send’ on the reissue …)

    • Maybe depends on the format? If it’s print via CreateSpace, that’s harder to update than digital through KDP.

      If the latter, I’d fix it, but that could just be me. I’m all about the best reading experience I can provide, so I fix every error/formatting issue I can as soon as it comes to my attention.

      Honestly, I’d fear that not fixing it just perpetuates the whole “self-publishing stigma”/”glut of low quality” thing that indie publishing always gets stuck with.

      • …so I fix every error/formatting issue I can as soon as it comes to my attention.

        I do this as well.

        • Same here. The way I see it, someone complaining to AZ and my getting a request to fix a typo is far better than getting a 1-star review because of said typo.

          • This is exactly the feedback I wanted. If the authors see it as a complaint then I’ll just skip the flagging of the typo. I’d only do it if there was a need or desire by the author to perfect the work and to be helpful. If they are just responding or correcting because of the fear of bad reviews then eh… why bother. When I read reviews that complain about typos or content I typically ignore them as they seldom matter to the overall story.

            My other fear is that Amazon provides the ability to submit a content report as simply a “placebo” as a way to placate potential irritant reviewer.

            • It’s not fear. It’s simple customer service. As far as I’m concerned, any grammatical mistakes in something I put for sale are a failure on my part. If a mistake distracts someone from a story, it’s not good for all concerned. And a lot of people will hesitate to try a new book if there are enough complaints about poor editing. Getting feedback is very useful for those of us who want to provide customers with the best product possible.

              • Heh, my ‘in work’ stuff is updated on a couple websites every week or two. The primary purpose is to let my readers see where that rather slow writer they were foolish enough to follow is heading, but it’s had the secondary benefit of having some of those readers spotting and pointing out plot holes and other errors for me (and then I have a friend who ‘rips my a new one’ on punctuation once the writing part is pretty much done.)

            • I think a lot of authors would fall into the former category — wanting to deliver the very best experience possible, and being rather ashamed of putting out a flawed product.

              But then, authors’ motivations are as different as readers motivations. Like, you think errors seldom matter. I can only tolerate a handful before I figure the author is as careless with the story as with grammar and give up altogether.

  15. Uh, this scares me! I write Japan-inspired fiction and use a lot of Japanese words that it ALWAYS marks as spelling errors (and I tell Amazon to ignore them). I hope this is something we can appeal to a higher power about!

    • This new policy worries me also. I make up many of the names for my characters, as well as terms for the “realities” of my fantasy world that simply don’t exist in our world. The automated spellcheck that flags errors in the KDP publishing process turns up from 60 to 100 “spelling errors” in each of my books. I always double-check to be sure, but have only found three instances (across many tiles) where the flagged error was truly an error. All the rest were names and terms created for the story and its fantasy milieu.

      • It’d be nice if Amazon had a ‘new/added word’ box where you could key in all the ‘strange but meant to be there’ words your story has in it.

  16. Gracias. I’d planned to leave it until I either update the cover, or unpublish and send it to my small press to see if she can make more sales with it.

    I would love to see Amazon add a widget to let the author know directly where/what the “error” is and let the reviewer/reader who found the error communicate directly to the author. For direct-to-reader books, this would be a great blessing.

    I forgot to say upthread that the ‘Zon has never reported Spanish, Cornish, old English, Italian, or Welsh words in my books as errors. And this is after eleven books available for the Kindle, either through my small press or indie.

  17. P.G.

    Russell Blake writes like a Ferrari on Oxy, and in the 10 or so books I’ve read of his, I can only recall a single story/place type error.

    I mentioned it to him politely. It was a UK thing. I doubt USA readers would have given it any thought, but the sharper UK eyed might.

    He fixed it, with grace and said thanks.

    Some writers just pour it out and don’t look over it well enough at all. For me it does spoil a book to hear characters breathing out yet another long breath, or, “Can I ask you a question?”

    Yer professionals, write good. When I was writing statements for High or Low court, the text was gone over by at least four examiners before it hit the bench. There’s no excuse for sloppy.

    When I read for Librivox, my favourite PL, (checker-over) was someone everyone else found a bit picky. No, that’s yer best friend who’s going to find yer errors and make you sound better than anyone else.


  18. The traditional publishing companies had better watch out then. My wife found at least six errors in my book THE PARADISE PROPHECY, which was published by Penguin…

    • I actually see this as being both the point and the biggest impact. Self-pubbers can, and have a desire to, fix the problems.

      Trad-pubbed authors can’t. Backlists, in particular, where the publisher has scanned and uploaded an old copy without fixing any errors will be hard hit. I just read the digital version of a favorite author, and there were so many errors not in the original (and not the author’s fault) that it was silly. And, yeah, I’ve reread that book enough times to know without checking.

      I think this is both an attempt to increase quality, *and* a dig at the Big Five, who upload shoddy versions then charge ridiculous amounts. Sadly, it will hurt those authors a great deal.

  19. I warn my readers that I make words for a living and that some of them are even original to me. It’s a long tradition among wordsmiths going back at least as far as Shakespeare — or maybe Chaucer. Portmanteau words, borrowings, and nouvelle coinages abound in the English language, and any fool who dares to say, “That’s not a word,” is almost bound to be wrong. I go to a great deal of effort to make my manuscript as error-free as humanly possible and would even go so far as to guarantee that every single work is correctly spelled — by my style sheet and spellcheck dictionary.


    • …my style sheet and spellcheck dictionary.

      I make my own style sheets, too. In one work I use the original definition of a Latin word that most people for another purpose, and the original but now less-common spelling of a mythical beast. I’d be reassured if Amazon outright said they’d accept style sheets as a defense.

  20. I wonder if they’ll flag A Clockwork Orange or, even better, Riddley Walker?

  21. I first published back in January, 2013, and Amazon picked up a number of ‘typos’. All but one turned out to be made-up words I’d created for a science fiction world. Once I’d gone through each one, and flagged them as not typos, everything was okay.

    As I see it, the only way this new initiative will do us any harm is if we /ignore/ the warning emails from Amazon. And I can’t see any serious writer doing that.

    On the other hand, this initiative could well weed out those optimistic first drafts that have had little to no editing.

    Either way, improving the basic standard of published books is long overdue and can only improve the industry long term.

  22. I hope this is available on all books not just indies. I’ve had to return more than one trad pub book because the formatting made it unreadable. With the prices they charge it would be nice if they were more motivated to fix big errors like that.

    Agree with Jamie on stylesheets!

    In addition I hope this isn’t used as a club to beat on writers with unpopular opinions like the review system has on occasion.

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