To whom do you report a typo in a ebook?
September 16, 2018 5:09 PM   Subscribe

I just finished a novel that I enjoyed and found a type in the Kindle ebook edition. To whom do I report the typo so that it will get correct in future editions?
posted by plinth to Writing & Language (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Book Has Missing Pages or Content Errors
If you find a typographical error, missing pages, or other content problems in a book, you can report these errors to Amazon.

Go to the book's product detail page on Amazon. Scroll to the bottom of the page and select Would you like to report poor quality or formatting in this book? in the Feedback section.
Enter information about the errors, and then click Submit.
That said, basically every book has typos. Unless the error is disastrous, I would refrain from any attempts to contact an author you don't otherwise know about a typo, particularly if the book is not self-published. They're either blissfully unaware or already entirely too painfully aware.
posted by zachlipton at 5:29 PM on September 16, 2018 [6 favorites]

This came up in a writing group I am in. I had assumed that alerting authors/publishers to typos would be helpful, but it was a resounding 'don't do it' from the group.
posted by Youremyworld at 5:51 PM on September 16, 2018

I find the advice not to contact at least the publisher to be strange. It is not exactly the same, but I once let Ted Conover know there was some typos on his web site and he sent me one of his books I hadn't read yet.

Don't be pissy or rude or demanding but leaving a little "just to let you know" note to the publisher can't hurt.
posted by mmascolino at 5:57 PM on September 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

but it was a resounding 'don't do it' from the group.

Can you share what the reasoning was here? I would be completely mortified if a book I had written or edited had errors in it...
posted by elsietheeel at 6:15 PM on September 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

I could be mistaken but I’m pretty sure I was able to highlight and report errors in a kindle ebook from within my kindle paperwhite, maybe through a chain of contextual menus. Can’t see it on a quick mobile google but perhaps worth looking into.

Also: all books have typos but some have a zillion and it can be pretty disconcerting so please do report, assuming you use a standard form. (Once I found a ‘said Bill’ where it clearly had to be ‘said Jane’ and it was surprisingly enraging - that’s never happened to me in a print book, and kindle books now often cost more than a paperback version that has less errors!)
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:16 PM on September 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

I do this from within the Kindle- you select and hold the error, and there’s a menu that pops up under the three dots at end of the box that eventually leads to “report error.” You can actually check the status of typo reports from within your Amazon account; that’s how I know that I found two typos in The Martian, for example that have actually been fixed!
posted by charmedimsure at 6:37 PM on September 16, 2018 [11 favorites]

charmedimsure is exactly right. To add more detail, touch and hold the word that is misspelled. That brings up the dictionary. In the bottom right corner of the dialog box, touch the button for "more". "Report content error" is at the bottom of the list of further options. Then you can indicate the type of error it is and submit your report.
posted by DrGail at 6:59 PM on September 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'd report it both ways. I am not at all confident that Amazon passes those reports on to anyone. I work for a publisher and have never received such an alert, ever. I get every email that vendor central sends out and I don't think there is a complete absence of typos in our books, so I just don't think anything is done with it.

I sometimes receive those notes via email. I pass them along to the appropriate editor and I assume they do get fixed. But I would not expect that we would ever update the ebook file with the correction, unless it was really massive/offensive. The cost for us to do that doesn't make it worth it, but we have to update the print file before reprinting no matter what, so the correction does get made there.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 7:01 PM on September 16, 2018

This is a Kindle .epub file? Use the reporting tools that zachlipton and charmedimsure point out. It has been my experience (anecdotal: I triggered and observed this process myself on the publisher side about two months ago) that ebook production departments at the big publishers have access to these reports in an Amazon-specific queue. It's often trivial to correct the typos for the .epubs and Amazon makes it easy to mark it as done and push the corrected file to Amazon same-day.

It also neatly solves the dilemma of whether to bother the author or not; which could be a very emotional process depending on the relationship between author, publisher, reader, etc.

HOWEVER, if this is a self-pub/vanity press book, the author should be the first contact, as they'll be the ones to coordinate fixing the file.
posted by greenland at 7:19 PM on September 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

I can confirm that kindle-edition errors reported to amazon get passed on to publishers, and at least some of them have a process for making corrections. Please be sure the error you’re reporting is an actual mistake and not an author choice. When you hit send on that comment you trigger a shitton of work for people - don’t do it lightly.
posted by libraryhead at 8:03 PM on September 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

With regards to reporting the error in-app, neither my Android based Kindle app nor the web based app have the option to report content errors in line or any way related to the dictionary. I reported it via the product page and sent a kind email to the author.
posted by plinth at 3:14 AM on September 17, 2018

I am an author of a book that had least a couple of dozen typos in it on publication. (I tried my hardest, there was a paid copy editor, things just get through in a long book.) Some of those typos I found myself, others I know about because a reader emailed to tell me. When that happens, I check that the mistake is really a mistake, and if so I send it along to the publisher, and I am grateful.

(I always imagined that the Kindle file was getting updated but per peanut_mcgillicuty's comment above, maybe that's not true!)

It is not a lot of work for me.

I suppose it's possible that the typo is Amazon-specific and has nothing to do with the author, but in every single case a reader has pointed out a mistake (and I'm sure plenty of those people were reading on Kindle) the mistake was there in the master proofs.

I think it's fine to write the author.
posted by escabeche at 8:15 AM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

> This came up in a writing group I am in. I had assumed that alerting authors/publishers to typos would be helpful, but it was a resounding 'don't do it' from the group.

I don't know what your group's reasoning was, but it's certainly not a universal guideline. I regularly report typos to the authors of major books like Kotkin's Stalin bio and the new History of Russian Literature, and they are always deeply grateful (the standards of copyediting/proofreading with modern publishers being what they are). Obviously everyone is different, and I imagine nonprofessional (self-published) authors may be touchier, but it makes no sense just to say "don't do it."
posted by languagehat at 1:32 PM on September 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

Some books have an address on the copyright page for errata. If it's a mistake in the .epub version, it could be a mistake in the printed version too.
posted by cass at 11:10 AM on September 18, 2018

You can safely ignore the frankly-odd position of Youremyworld's group.
posted by turkeyphant at 7:09 PM on September 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

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