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22 mars 2014 6 22 /03 /mars /2014 15:35

I do like my Kindle. I like to read on my Kindle: e-books, PDF documents that I would not read on my computer, oldies but goodies SF books (H.G. Wells, Poe, Jules Verne,…). Also: when I am reading on my Kindle, I am not connected to the Internet – in that sense, it is like reading a book, I am in a quiet universe, without zapping, etc.


But. There is a ‘but’.


Why should the reading quality be worse than in the paperbook? Are we condemned to junk reading? Let me give you some examples (taken in L'Âge de la multitude, N. Colin & H. Verdier, Armand Colin 2012) .


First point. I do not know when a quote starts: there are no distinct characters, nor italics, just a very small margin which is hardly visible.


All the text in the red square is a quote. The blue line indicates the very small margin (2 mm) between the quote alignment and the normal text alignment. You cannot distinguish these two alignments.  The only possibilities I have to understand that it is a quote are 1/ the context (but I would prefer to see a real quote, for easy reading), 2/ the footnote reference number at the end of the 'quote'.   If some authors do not document their quotes, there will be no footnote number... 


By the way, my second point is about the footnote references (anchors in the text). As you can see on the figure above (number 37), or the one below (red circles), the reference is in the core text, and not above as it is usual in a document.


Third point. As it is written here{{fr}}, « Veuillez noter que tous les livres Kindle ne possèdent pas la numérotation des pages (Please note that all the Kindle books do not have page numbers).» How can we quote part of the text in an article? I recently had to mention a quote of this book, and instead of a page number, had to indicate: “Emplacement Kindle 1260 sur 5130”!


The first two points are really a discomfort and represent a minor quality of reading – I would say a poor quality of reading.


I mentioned them to Amazon people at their booth during the Salon du Livre Paris 2014: they listened carefully, but told me that they were binded by standards. I am doubtful about this explanation.


I would be happy if some readers of my blog are able to share similar experience, or give me some URLs where this kind of problems are mentioned (also please they can correct my English, as it is my first post in English). 



PS : this post does not regard the quality of the concerned book, which is an interesting and original book.

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Alan 26/03/2014 18:01

Hi Alexandre,

Thank you for the compliment, but I have no merit. Technically speaking, English is my mother tongue. And this advantage didn't even prevent me from dropping a couple of errors into my initial
comment ;)

But please allow me to return the compliment and congratulate you for your English; you definitely deserve it!

May I ask why you wrote this note in English in the first place? Was it to increase its reach and eventually get Amazon to read it? Or was it just for the fun? Or for another reason?

All the best,


Alexandre Moatti 26/03/2014 18:26

Thanks Alan. I wrote that in English because I ingenuisly thought that it was a general problem. In fact it is mostly for some French books, for some publishers
(among them Armand Colin !). So, my post was at least useful for that, and for our franco-suisse debate (in old times Franco-Suisse was a dessert...)

And also to train me to write in English.


NIcoTupe 25/03/2014 17:36

Hi Alexandre,

I read all my books with a Kindle (yours for example :p) and I must say things about your points. First, the last one : you're right and I think we cannot do anything when the information isn't
avaliable. But its just like when you have the quoted text from a wrong edition... It's probably better to reference it from a chapter number or other page independant refernce.


For the first two points, it really depend a lot if the edition. You have to know that, in my experience, french electronic editions are really worse english or american ones. The reference
number can be very small for example... And same for the quotes, some editions have a real layout that distinguish, chapter titles, quotes, etc. (and present well math formulas sometimes!). 

In brief, I think that french editor are a bit right that there isn't really a standard for a electronic book layout (like there isn't only one for paperback) but if you want a far better
experience, try a book in english (And not free, free ebooks are even worse than french ones...)!

Alexandre Moatti 26/03/2014 18:22

I have another French book from a less well-known publisher (Editions de la Hutte / Le néo-paganisme, une vision du monde en plein essor). It is much
better : my fisrt two points are void.

So this really depends of the publisher, as Chti'Suisse was saying above.

You are right : free books are the worst ones : we can realy call most of them junk reading !


Alan 24/03/2014 21:17

Hi, Fellow Coffee Barista :) (et salut Chti Suisse, en passant ! Marrant comme les grands esprits se rencontrent)

If you don't mind, I'll carry on in English; it seems more natural, given the circumstances.

I couldn't have agreed more with your post, dear Alexandre, had I read it 5 years ago. But I felt literally drawn to the past whilst discovering it today! 

I've been doing most of my reading on a Kindle since 2009. And for sure, these annoying shortcomings gave me the exact same feeling of downgraded reading experience. But, now, as of 2014, I must
confess I haven't come across them in ages. 

This is what a quotation looks like on my Kindle: http://goo.gl/8YHliU (sorry if it looks a bit blurry, the picture was taken on shaky train ;) )

Here is a footnote, in its quiescent state (if I dare say): http://goo.gl/Qnw2pT 

And the same note when clicked: http://goo.gl/AjPxBB

Besides, I always have both the Kindle "locations" and the physical page numbers on the display.

So as far as I'm concerned, Amazon has fixed all of the issues you mention. The difference, I guess, is that I do most of my reading in English (actually, the last book I read in French was
yours). And I buy my e-books directly from the Kindle (US) Store. I guess the quality standards are probably not the same yet across all markets.

To me, the Kindle experience today is almost perfect (so long as we overlook the phenomenal multimedia potential experience, of course, and focus on the transposition of the physical book reading
experience). I can even sync my audiobooks and ebooks over whispersync, how crazy is that?

The only 4 remaining complaints I would issue are the following :

- The black & white experience has its limitations. I really look forward to experiencing e-ink in colour

- I despise the closed format Amazon has chosen to impose (and I still de-drm every single book I buy, just in case... I want to be able to read them whatever happens to Amazon)

- The Gigabytes of electronic books I have read over the past fifteen years totally lack the singular elegance and beauty (not to mention the smell) of the physical bookcase I do not have. The
older I get, the more it bothers me

- E-books should be free when you buy the paper or audio version. This confusion between the content and its packaging are from another age, and hopefully they will be nothing more than a memory
we shall have hard time believing in in a few years.... 

Which Kindle do you have? Is it a recent model? 

Alexandre Moatti 25/03/2014 10:50

Thanks Alan for your comment, and congratulations for your English skills. I wish I could write as you do.

As I believe only wht I see, I went on my Kindle to see a book in English that I have (Science left behind, 2012). This book does not have separate quotes, but
footnote references are correctly disposed, as well as page numbers are mentioned.

It then confirms what you two swiss analysts point : it concerns books in French, and maybe it is due to unsatisfactory work of French publishers.


ChtiSuisse 23/03/2014 14:07

Re bonjour

Je ne pense pas que cela soit une question de format.
J'ai recontré le même manque de qualité aussi bien en azw qu'en ePub.
Il y a un grand manque d'intérêt et donc de compétence :

L'editeur investi le minimum dans la conversion en eBook
Le prestataire n'est sans doute pas payé pour faire de la qualité même rudimentaire. Et il sait qu'il ne sera pas jugé la dessus par l'éditeur.

En exemple de conversion minimum: les notes de bas de page
qui devraient toujours être des liens du texte vers des paragraphes de fin de livre ou de chapitre.

Chti_Suisse 22/03/2014 19:46


La qualité thechnique des eBook est en effet déplorable : il faut ouvrir un xhtml avec firefox en 3d view pour constater les dégats


C'est édifiant : certains livres empilent tellement les balises que l'eBook ressemble à New York.

Vous pourrez me dire et alors ?

la liseuse n'a que peu de puissance (ouverture et tourner la page prend des plombes)

charger la structure c'est rendre la mise en page rigide et buggée suivant la liseuse

empêcher l'adaptation de la police

J'ai parfois lus des eBook fait par la team A........z alors que j'avais acheté les ePubs !

Les éditeurs payent visiblement quelques fournisseurs sans établir de cahier des charges, ni sans contrôler le travail fournit.
Alors qu'ils ont sans doute des décennies de contrôleur du travail des imprimeurs derrière eux.

Ce qui me fait dire que l'Ebook est méprisé par les éditeurs traditionnels : prix, drm, qualité, ...

Les éditeurs 100% numériques eux font attention.

Alexandre Moatti 23/03/2014 13:03

Merci  beaucoup cher Suisse du Nord de votre analyse, où vous confirmez donc que le format kindle (AZW?) est une sous-norme ! Par aillers je n'avais pas
compris que c'étaient les éditeurs eux-mêmes qui faisaient la conversion Kindele. Comme vous dites : vite fait, mal fait.


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Ce blog est créé à la rentrée scolaire 2006 pour suivre les sujets suivants:
# Bibliothèque numérique européenne (BNUE), et bibliothèques numériques en général.
# Edition et revues scientifiques.
# Culture scientifique.

Alexandre Moatti
Secrétaire général du comité de pilotage BNUE août 2005- août 2006


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