Well, I say a "worrying flaw" - I mean an error. All books contain errata - I think that's a given - but outside of academia, Jasper Fforde is the only author I know who offers upgrades to his books.
Here's a sample from the original Thursday Next "patch"
5: Using a fine black pen make the following corrections:
6: Go to page 32 and replace 'Stella' with 'Steller's - this is the correct spelling. The large slow-moving-manatee-type-mermaid-legend creature was named by Georg Wilhelm Steller, the German naturalist.
What's The Error?
The book contains a number of charming illustrations - the final illustration is meant to be (NO SPOILERS) about a wiped out clown army. Instead, it's a repeat of an earlier illustration of (NO SPOILERS) mimes encircling a car.
At the time of writing, there's no upgrade listed for the latest book - although there are a range of fabulous special features. I've dropped Mr Fforde an email alerting him to this devastating turn of events.
Yes, yes, it's fairly minor in the grand scheme of things.
Of course, one could argue that traditional books don't get upgrades - so why should this be a problem for ebooks?
- I can take my physical book back to the shop and get a replacement. Or even send it back to the publisher. With eBooks, this is virtually impossible - not least because of the DRM issues involved in revoking a book.
- If a book contains a serious error, I can print out an errata sheet. The DRM on eBooks prevents me from altering their contents.
- We should expect more. This is a new medium - we should expect more than simply plain text in a DRM layer.
Yes, it all comes down to DRM - or, as Jasper Fforde puts it...
The DRM was the Dark Reading Matter – the unseeable part of the BookWorld.
DRM’s existence remained theoretical, at best.
I don't know if I'm reading too much in to Fforde's work - but he doesn't strike me as the sort of author to use an acronym without a thorough understanding of what it means. I have no shame in saying that I removed the DRM on the ePub I purchased in order to read it on my Kindle (which does not support Adobe's DRM scheme).
I don't know how I expect an eBook upgrade to work - with or without DRM. I don't want an author, book seller, or publisher to randomly change the book I'm reading - that's a little too similar to Amazon deleting 1984 from its Kindles.
I know I don't want to buy an entirely new copy - just because some punctuation has been fixed.
Should I be able to download a diff and let my eReader decide which version of a book I want to see?
Should I be able to get an update free? Should it cost?
So many questions and so few answers. If you've got any thoughts on the matter - please let me know.