Find-And-Replace Is Not A Good Idea When Porting Kindle Texts To Nook

As any thrifty e-book reader knows, there are a ton of cheap and free public domain titles available for download. But one War and Peace reader in North Carolina was confused about the new word he saw among the 1,100 or so pages of the classic Tolstoy novel.

The reader was enjoying his $.99 version of War and Peace on his Barnes & Noble Nook when he came across the sentence, “It was as if a light had been Nookd in a carved and painted lantern….”

“Nookd”?

So he found another translation and found a sentence that made more sense: “It was as if a light had been kindled in a carved and painted lantern….”

Wrote the man on his blog:

Someone at Barnes and Noble (a twenty year old employee? or maybe the CEO?) had substituted every incidence of “kindled” with “Nookd!”

I was shocked. Almost immediately I found it hilarious…then outrageous…then both. It is definitely clever. But it raises many questions. E-books can be manipulated at will by the purveyors of the downloadable software. Here is a classic work of fiction (some claim it is the greatest novel every written) used for a sophomoric and/or commercial prank. What else might be changed in an e-book? Fears of manipulation for economic, political, religious, or other ideological ends come to mind. It makes one wary of the integrity of any digital version of not only War and Peace…but any e-book.

While we get that he was a little peeved, we’re pretty sure that not a single person at Barnes & Noble had anything to do with this error, nor does it seem likely that this is a prank of any sort.

As FutureOfTheInternet points out, it’s likely the publisher made an error when porting over its Kindle version of the book:

The Superior Formatting Publishing version isn’t a Barnes and Noble book, so this isn’t the work of a rogue Nook marketer from B&N. Rather, it’s likely that Superior Formatting Publishing ported its Kindle version of War and Peace over to the Nook — doing a search and replace to make sure that any Kindle references they’d inserted, such as in the advertising at the end of the book about their fine Kindle products, were simply changed to Nook.

The fact is that War and Peace is a public domain book meaning there is often little-to-no editorial oversight — outside of maybe writing a brief introduction and choosing the cover art — when it comes to publishing a bottom-dollar cash-in copy.

But if these publishers wish to escape the outrage of the Internet, they should probably be a bit more careful when doing the whole find/replace thing.

What this reader should really be outraged about is the fact that he spent $.99 on an e-book when there are other editions — most likely with the exact same text, sans the “Nookd” goof — available for absolutely nothing.

[via slashdot]

Thanks to Len for the tip!

Comments

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  1. Bort says:

    why does this remind me of cookie cutter diagnoses?

  2. Portlandia says:

    Someone didn’t click “Whole Words Only”

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

      Even “whole words only” wouldn’t save against this kind of gaffe if the find/replace operation isn’t performed with human oversight.

  3. Cat says:

    Back in the dawn of personal computing, I did a global “search and replace” on the office Jesus freak’s computer Bible, replacing “God” with “Dog”.

    Hilarity ensued.

    • Jawaka says:

      I bet you were proud of yourself.

      Did you let the air out of the tires of his car as well?

    • madanthony says:

      I hope you didn’t for an insurance company, or some claim adjuster is trying to figure out why the policy doesn’t cover “acts of dog”

  4. MrObvious says:

    This should add some nooking to the fire.

  5. That guy. says:

    For some reason, this reminded me of….

    “It was the best of times, It was the blurst of times.”

  6. umbriago says:

    I’d say the possibilities are endless, but ultimately it’ll come down to product placement.

    Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
    Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
    As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
    `’Tis some visitor,’ I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -
    Season six of Jersey Shore!

  7. dangermike says:

    It would have been more amusing if it had happened in something by Orwell.

  8. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    Sweet. I’m going to buy e-copies of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and replace every instance of ‘to be’ with ‘robot penis’.

    • who? says:

      At first I thought you might mean MacBeth instead of Romeo and Juliet. But then I did a text search in Romeo and Juliet, and found plenty of robot penises there, too.

      • RandomHookup says:

        Are you sure you aren’t thinking of the “to be or not to be” speech in Hamlet? Not that “to be” isn’t a pretty common phrase in Shakespeare.

      • Thespian says:

        Okay, who — you’re going to need to walk outside, turn around three times, and spit. Don’t you know it’s bad luck to mention the name of “The Scottish Play?” :)

    • 99 1/2 Days says:

      I think I’d take every “hence” and replace it with “up the butt.”

  9. Rebecca K-S says:

    I can’t imagine anyone whose first thought is, “Someone replaced all the ‘kindled’s with ‘nookd’s as a clever prank!” will actually be able to make it through War & Peace.

    • Meagan_R says:

      “okay, i’m finally going to do it…i’m going to read every last -what is this? Nookd? What a travesty, I will not read this on the grounds of my personal integrity! ” *starts the “shades of gray” trilogy instead*

    • chevale says:

      Hmm. Perhaps someone who, in addition to having an appreciation for fine literature, also has a sense of humour?

  10. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    “Sophomoric?”

    Pfft. Poindexter reads War and Peace.

  11. rpjs says:

    This is what we in IT call a clbuttic error.

  12. quail says:

    Chuckle.

    Anyone remember when Barnes & Noble started to have books in the public domain like HUCKLEBERRY FINN or PRIDE AND PREJUDICE available in hard back for just $7.99. It was before the whole eBook thing was even a glimmer in someone’s eye. They had made a big deal when they rolled it out as being something great they were doing for the masses. Last time I looked they were selling them at the $18 price point.

  13. ldillon says:

    I suggest we coin a new term for this sort of find-and-replace error: We can say they nooked it up.

  14. dush says:

    If it’s not the exact text of War and Peace then they didn’t really sell you War and Peace right?

  15. pythonspam says:

    When I read ebooks that have typos, I wonder if some weren’t intentionally included so they can trace a pirated book back to a particular user or “printing”.
    (Not that I would ever obtain non-public domain ebooks extra-legally)

  16. mrscoach says:

    My first thought when I read this was “He actually PAID for a public domain book? Quick, someone point him to Mobile Read”. They have a TON of PD books that have lovingly been converted by members, all for free. Most (if not all) actually look better than what you can get from the regular venues, BN, Amazon or Sony. (OK, not a literal ton, but there are thousands there.)

    And for those who know nothing about public domain ebooks, anyone can pull a copy from somewhere, make the changes they want, and offer it to who they want or for how much they want. If an individual took a Kindle version and wanted to be lazy they could also do the ‘search-and-replace’ to remove kindle references that MIGHT be there. As long as it isn’t under copyright no laws have been broken, just common decency if shoddy work is released.

  17. EllenRose says:

    An author of my acquaintance did something like this to one of her own books. She’d been calling one of her characters a ‘chunk’ and decided ‘heavyset man’ was better. One search-and-replace later, she had the police arriving and getting out of their cars with a heavyset maning of doors.

    Fortunately, she caught it before she sent the book in.

    People are strange. The world is strange. Together, we can make strangeness happen in our books.

    • Snapdragon says:

      I am laughing out loud at this…

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      LOL!!

      I’ve done this in Word. Usually it’s with mistakes that I search for. Learned the hard way to find and edit individually. And always print a hard copy and read it, in its entirety, out loud, after each computer edit. Yes, I recycle the paper.

      Off topic, but I use a writing software called PageFour to write first drafts, and it has a list function where you can search for common words you’d like to edit. It also lets you merge chapters, which is why I got it in the first place, but whatever. It’s nice. The best thing is it doesn’t do the autocorrect like Word does, which can be annoying and distracting. Yes, I meant to write that sentence as a fragment. Now shut up, Word.

  18. Snapdragon says:

    OMG, hilarious. I’d ask for that 99 cents back out of principle.

    (Dwigt!)

  19. Peggee has pearls and will clutch them when cashiers ask "YOU GOT A WIC CHECK MA'AM?" says:

    B&N takes most of their classics from Project Gutenberg; the free ones I downloaded when I tried the Nook still had Gutenberg’s extensive headers. My first thought would have been that B&N grabbed the texts from some free online source and ran a macro to remove possible references to Kindle, like: “For more free books for your Kindle, visit manybooks.net!” or whatever.

    Why would his first assumption be that some intern at B&N did it for fun? It’s not funny. It’s not cute. It’s as stupid as me assuming that the guy is suffering buyer’s remorse on his Nook and that’s why he got so hostile when he saw this.

  20. sayahh says:

    This reminds me of the time American Family Association decided to replace the word “gay” with the word “homosexual” in all of their newsfeeds (wonder how that’s legal since they changed the original writer’s article, but I digress), giving us with hilarious headline: “Homosexual eases into 100 final at Olympic trials.” They did this to both basketball player Rudy Gay and sprinter Tyson Gay (no relation).

    http://planethomo.typepad.com/planethomo/2008/06/its-rudy-homosexual.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Family_Association#Stance_on_homosexuality

    • RandomHookup says:

      Depends on their agreement with the news service, but it’s pretty common for publishers to change some of the text — adding a local angle or making a change that has come to light since the original article.

  21. KyBash says:

    Back around 1980 (or so), a newspaper editor was coerced into giving a tour of the offices to a grade school class. Thinking he’d wow them, he showed them how easy it was to change text using the new word processing machine (a Wang?). With a few deft strokes, he changed every ‘a’ in an article into an ‘e’. The kids were less than wowed. They were, however, very amused when he tried to change it back and then scrambled to see if the article had been properly saved before he mangled it.

    • RandomHookup says:

      As someone who did “word processing” in the dark ages, I can confirm he really screwed things up. There wasn’t such a thing as an “undo” button back then and it’s impossible to change only the “e’s” that were “a’s” back without changing the “e’s” that were “e’s” as well.

      And saving documents was pretty linear…no real options if you messed things up other than unplugging the machine.

  22. Captain Obvious says:

    I did it all for the Nookie.

  23. wickedpixel says:

    clbuttic

  24. Press1forDialTone says:

    Consumerist’s tepid response to this report is very disturbing.

    It doesn’t matter -what- material is manipulated in this way, it is very

    very wrong and if allowed to continue and increase has ominous

    consequences for the future of the written word and the future of the

    past written word.

    If you will recall in the novel 1984, George Orwell depicted a society where

    all written and televised media was manipulated using “NewSpeak”, a set of

    guidelines that distorted the present, future and past.

    E-media, manipulated by a growing number of software programs

    easily obtained by both white-hat programmers and black-hat

    programmers is a very disturbing ongoing event. Of course we

    already have forms of NewSpeak in practice, such as Faux News.

    But the systematic distortion of literature, most importantly, non-fiction

    literature is a real and world-affecting event. How will we know if the

    non-fiction, historical, documentary or other information source we

    are referring to is indeed unchanged from the original author(s)??

    How about scientific studies, drug studies, etc?

    We should all keep out collective heads up and our senses alert

    and get the word out that this is not some conspiracy theory but

    a very real side-effect of turning all information into just a stream of

    easily changed ones and zeroes.

  25. Invader Zim says:

    Orwells 1984…

  26. skloon says:

    So that Bear Grylls book I got, where the heck do I find nookling to start a fire