Friday, May 6, 2011

Special Kindle Illustrated, Commented Editions - Complete Works Collections - UPDATE


  These are sets published this year, and I hear more attention is given to formatting with the newer ones.

  While I have the Complete Works of Shakespeare already, I wanted some of the features mentioned in the product detail.  Using the Shakespeare set as an example, the description is: "The Complete Plays of Shakespeare  (Special Kindle Illustrated and Commented Edition)  All of William Shakespeare's Unabridged Plays AND Yale Critical..."

  The set was "especially created for the Kindle" and is  "commented and fully illustrated," with:
' - Over 12 full color (color enabled device required) illustrations and photographs  [Well, THAT makes no sense, does it.  But the Kindle can deal with color photographs; it just shows them in black and white.  However, your Kindle for PC or for Mac and other Kindle apps can show them in full color] ...
- Over 300 pages of additional biographical and historical materials
- Over 14 critical essays from leading Shakespeare scholars from Yale University on various aspects of Shakespeare's life and literary legacy
- Fully Kindle enabled with fully interactive table of contents, Kindle MasterLink technology, Kindle Text-to-Speech ' (Audiobook) enabled, Kindle Lending Technology enabled

Note that sets of complete works, with illustrations, will be several times larger than a regular Kindle book.  In this case the file for the Kindle book is 6 times larger than the average Kindle book.

Here's the page listing all the Collections available.

These sets are probably, at $2.99 each or less, something students and families might find worth a look.

UPDATE - I perused my copy more closely. The illustrations I've seen so far have been in in the front and are small although putting your cursor on them and clicking on one zooms it to fill the screen but they're not in high resolution.

  There is also no explanation for these illustrations.   It's as if they're there just for atmosphere.  I don't see why they couldn't explain one was the Globe Theater.  For a set with a very good set of notes in the BACK of the book, the lack of information for the illustrations is pure laziness.

The Table of Contents: As promised, it's interactive, but the essays under "A critical Introduction to Shakespeare" by writers from Yale University, while linked under most circumstances, doesn't work if the would-be link winds up at the top of the page in some font-settings.  The workaround is to lower or raise the font size so it moves off the first line and then you can click on it.

  The essays start at Location 82864. (Good to bookmark it.)  Curiously, just in front of it is another illustration and this one is explained.  And there are others illustrations in the Yales essays section.

Chapters (to give you an idea of whether or not they'll interest you)
1.   An Outline of Shakespeare's Life
2.   English Drama before Shakespeare
3.   The Elizabethan Theater
4.   Elizabethan London
5.   Shakespeare's Nondramatic Works
6.   The Sequence of Shakespeare's plays
7.   Shakespeare's Development as a Dramatist
8.   The Chief Sources of Shakespeare's Plays
9.   How Shakespeare got into print
10. The Plays of the First Period -
      Imitation and Experiment 1587 (?)-1594
11. The Plays of the Second Period - Comedy and History
12. The Plays of the Third Period - Tragedy
13. The Plays of the Fourth Period - Romantic Tragi-Comedy
14. Chapter 14 - Famous Mistakes and Delusions about Shakespeare

Although the Complete WORKS by Shakespeare, via Mobile Reference does not have the voluminous notes/essays, its formatting is easier to read, as they use bold facing and more separation between lines.  They do recommend font size 2 to avoid odd line breaks but you can rotate the Kindle to Landscape to avoid that.  That set is $2.99 also and is nicely organized but has only a short biography of Shakespeare as an addition.  The sonnets and other poems are included in that set though.

  THIS set of plays uses small italics instead of bold facing (to identify the speaker) and less separation of lines.

Kindle 3's   (UK: Kindle 3's),   K3 Special, $114   DX Graphite

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  1. "Over 12..." - why don't they just say 13?

  2. Stephen,
    Probably more flexible wording, since they can add another set or two without changing that. They seem pretty busy putting these together.

    I will post about some oddities I found.

  3. [Part 1]

    What's the quality of these Amazon-made collections, particularly the formatting and text accuracy? That matters a lot when you're collecting for long-term reading.

    I've yet to see any evidence that Amazon as a publisher cares about the sorts of issues that well-established publishers constantly fret over.

    We need to be realistic. Amazon is into sales and profit, particularly profit. Books are commodities there, meaning absolutely no distinction is made between good and bad books or between quality editions and sloppy, grossly inaccurate works.

    You can see that in Amazon's search results, particularly for titles that are in the public domain and thus may exist in several editions of differing quality. Amazon's search function is deliberately set up to display editions that offer Amazon a high profit margin even if that particular edition is a crudely done, overpriced facsimile. That's not my interpretation of their strange search results. It's what an Amazon lawyer told me in a phone conversation and what an Amazon programmer (I live in Seattle) admitted to me. "Don't use Amazon search," she told me.

    Try a generic search for one of my titles, a marvelous 1892 classic called Across Asia on a Bicycle. The top result varies, but it's aways an overpriced facsimile with an ugly generic cover. That's currently a paperback at $20.33. My two editions aren't listed on either page of search results even though unavailable, long-out-of-print editions are.

    Force Amazon's search to do your bidding by clicking on the Hardcover tab and you'll belatedly find that I have an enhanced hardcover with adding material and an attractive cover for $18.21, which is a hardback for less than that cheap replica paperback.

    Push aside Amazon's veil of greed still further by clicking on the paperback link for that hardback and you'll find that my paperback edition sells for $11.01, almost half the price of the version Amazon is pushing. It is a better book at half the price, but one that doesn't earn Amazon as much money per sale. That's what Amazon's programmer meant when she said don't use their search. It lies and lies badly.
    You'll also find there's a link between my editions and what Amazon calls the "Kindle edition" of it. It's described in terms identical to my edition, including mention of two additional chapters and biographies of the original authors. I've not created a Kindle edition for my book, so if they've really created one identical to mine, as that description implies, I can sue the socks of them for copyright infringement. I copyrighted my additions as a collection and wrote the author biographies.

    But I have no doubt that they've not stolen my enhancements. They've simply taken a free and probably badly OCRed text and treated it as if it were the equivalent of my enhanced, carefully laid out and extensively footnoted edition. Then in some blend of sheer slovenliness and indifference to the truth, they've claimed their crude Kindle edition as if it were every bit as good as mine. It isn't. Not even remotely so. And it is good. A university-affiliated history institute in Turkey recently chose my particular edition for translation into Turkish.

    [Continued in Part 2]

  4. [Part 2]

    That's why I'd suggest readers never believe what Amazon Digital Services says about their growing series of Kindle editions and Kindle collections. It's not that they are always wrong. It that you simply can't trust what Amazon's says about either their own editions or about publishers that they have a close, almost incestuous relationship with.

    One example of the latter is General Books, which has created tens of thousands combination of ugly overpriced facsimile paperback editions and free Kindle editions. If you've downloaded free Kindle editions of classics, you've probably noticed all the OCR errors in their ebooks. In many cases you can blame General Books.

    On their website General Books admits that none of their books are proofed and that even entire pairs of pages may be missing if the automated page turner didn't work right. You can catch most typos, but can you always catch missing pages? Not likely. You'll just end up wondering why the plot has strange holes. General Books openly admit their indifference to the quality of their Kindle editions and yet Amazon often seems to favor their overpriced printed replicas over less-expensive, carefully checked editions from other publishers.

    That's also why I find Amazon's move into publishing genres like romance disturbing. Whatever field Amazon moves into, it is likely to find ways to their push books and ebooks at the expense of other publishers and authors and to do so in ways that drive their profits up, while driving out of business publishers who take the time and expense to create quality products. It's Gresham's Law, that "Bad money drives out good," applied to publishing.

    I want to be careful in what I say. It's not that all Amazon Digital Editions are trash. It's just that Amazon doesn't care if they're trash or not and is big enough that it's yet to be called to account for that indifference. People would rather gush about the Kindle, which is a good product.

    If you want a parallel, think of Detroit in the 1950s--huge, highly profitable, but indifferent to quality. Eventually they met their nemesis, but not without doing a lot of harm to the manufacturing industry in this country. The same is true of Amazon's impact on publishing.

    It's a sad, sad situation.

  5. Dear Andrys,
    I hope you can help me!!!
    I own a kindle 3.
    I have a question: what should I do to add a link which send me to a website while reading a book (mobi format).
    1. reading a book I find a unknown word, I look for the meaning of this word.
    2.-after writing the word that I need to know its meaning, go to FIND, click on the right arrow, then kindle displays 5 options:
    I want to add a link (OR OPCTIO) next to DICTIONARY which send me to WORDREFERENCE.
    Hence, I want to have the next options:
    Could you tell me how to do this?

    Thanks in advance



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