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Why standards matter…

I’ve been called fearless, but I am not an early adopter! So when my brother gave me a Kindle for Christmas, I was pleasantly surprised. The Kindle is for the most part self-explanatory without recourse to manual, and buying downloads only required one call to tech support. For a woman who has the Genius bar on speed dial, this is a high recommendation!

I do have 2 concerns about this evolution in book production:

1) Now, instead of saving and driving or waiting for the mail man, I just have to hit a single button. I don’t even have to review and approve an order page. I can see the charges piling up even as I succumb to temptation and hit that button!

2) Gatekeepers are also disappearing in production. Yes, I know the frustration of being turned down by publishers and agents, but without going through some check, ideas don’t get clarified, positions don’t get tested, and mistakes don’t get caught. Even supposedly simple stuff like layout is compromised.

For example, Molly Harper writes an hysterical series about a fired librarian turned vampire after accidentally being mistaken for a deer during a drive-by hunting accident. But, the Kindle version of Nice Girls Don’t Live Forever has a second blank line between paragraphs instead of the standard indent. So text that would normally look like:

“Her family put out a bear trap for me!” he huffed.

“Well, that just means that your families cancel each other out.”

ends up taking an entire screen for 2 lines!

Since a Kindle screen only shows a few paragraphs to begin with, dialogue becomes a frustrating exercise of the Next and Previous buttons. There’s probably a lot more to layout in electronic format that I’m not aware of, but I think revisiting the style guide is also in order. Your thoughts?

One comment on “Why standards matter…

  1. Jack Bryson
    May 2, 2013

    I agree. I’m also surprised by the things, which are supposedly vetted that get published/aired. I can only chalk this up to the creative spirit of America being tired. I watched the first two seasons of a show called Lost Girl. I think it has all the right ingredients but the stories are completely directionless.

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