Look Out! Here Comes the The Kindle Spelling/Formatting Warning!

A few days ago I was on Twitter and I came across a tweet relating to this article:


‘Starting February 3, 2016 Amazon will begin showing customers a warning message on the Kindle store detail pages of books that contain several validated quality issues. The warning message will be removed as soon as Amazon received an updated file from self-published authors or publishing companies.’

It appears, on the face of it, to be aimed towards typos, words you misspell easily enough when in the throes of writing. That can only be a good thing, right? Typos are a pain in the neck, but easily done, so if the Kindle can pick these up during the publishing process, all well and good; however, I have an issue: Amazon is an American company first and foremost, and I don’t believe – despite assurances – that it will be able to recognise British spellings and more importantly, British-preferred variant spellings (like ‘ise’ over ‘ize’ ).

What about slang? Will it smack me across the face with a wet fish and say, ‘Excuse me, no such word as “bizzy”! Unless you spell it “busy”…’

‘Yes, there bloody well is!’ I will shout back. ‘it’s Scouse for “policeman” and no, you spell it “bizzy”!’

‘No such word as Scouse!’

(You get my drift! I can see me having a full scale row with it over ‘any more’ which is two words, not one! Better get my Chambers dictionary and urban slang dictionary links set up to email the Amazon know-alls with my evidence!)

I naturally jumped onto the comments and had my say. Some wag suggested I wrote two editions of my books, one for the British market and one for the Americans. Like I’ve got time to do that! I don’t want to and why should I, anyway? (The lexicon (glossary) idea is a classic and I think not! One of my readers asked for a glossary once of Liverpool slang terms: I said work it out!) Then someone else picked holes in the grammar of the article, and then I got abuse for misuse of a semi-colon! FFS! Is that going to be next? Will the Kindle then decide it’s not only the spelling that isn’t good enough, but neither is the grammar. Never mind that Dammymac (a character from Big Brother and that’s his nickname; will it let you off for nicknames?) from Liverpool doesn’t talk like Lord Muck, but by George, by the time we’ve finished with him he’ll make the Queen sound like her from behind the bar in The Rovers Return in Coronation Street!

The other thing that concerns me is that this idea seems mainly targeted at indie authors, judging by a conversation I had with someone on Twitter about it. It’s always been assumed that indie authors can’t spell, can’t edit and don’t have the commonsense to proofread their work, nor do they ask someone to do the editing and proofreading for them. While I recognise that a lot of indie books are poorly formatted and poorly edited, and are full of misspellings, it’s unfair to tarnish them all with the same brush. I’ve read traditionally published books that aren’t all that spelling-wise.

There is a plus side: it could be seen as a way to get free proofreading for authors before they put their books into print format.

It will be interesting to see what happens when I upload Episode to Kindle this year and when I do I’ll report back.


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