A Celebration of Simply Dreadful Prose

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Last year, Amazon announced that e-book Kindle editions were outselling print books.

Amazon also announced that it will publish Kindle books at no charge.

For the last eight years, I have been reworking a novel in my computer. On my website, I offered a free PDF copy of the unpublished manuscript in return for a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” rating. Thirteen people read it—mostly strangers—and all gave it thumbs up with incredibly long and thoughtful reviews.

I recently re-read the novel and decided to give it a shot on Kindle with a selling price of $2.99 to see if it fogs the mirror.

I uploaded it into Kindle and downloaded the sample. It looked terrific, but with one serious screw-up. None of the paragraphs were indented. The entire book was comprised of 185 pages of solid “gray walls of type” and unreadable.

After hours of searching the Internet two sad facts became apparent:

• Amazon turned the conversion programming over to a bunch of techies whose minds were in the cloud and who had no understanding of a customer’s needs.

• The Internet is swarming with self-styled experts that cannot write the English Language.

Amazon’s Conversion Problem
When the sample of the book came back with zero paragraph indents, I emailed Amazon for help. The reply was mind-boggling:

The Kindle format does not internally support tab characters or consecutive spaces. For this reason the paragraphs in your book are not being indented after uploading to the KDP website.

OK, I could live without the use of tabs. It’s easy to convert the indent tabs to five spaces, and it would look fine.

The Kindle format can make only one space. The idea that it cannot make two consecutive spaces—or five spaces—is preposterous.

I just finished a splendid book on my Kindle, “The Long Night: William L. Shirer and the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” by Steve Wick. It was seriously riddled throughout with spacing errors. In 70 years of reading books, I have never come across a series of distractions this blatant caused by publisher incompetence.

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.

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