Friday, March 18, 2011

Scanning doesn't work very well, it seems

I continue to have a childish love for Albert Payson Terhune (Lad: A Dog and a gazillion other collie stories). When I saw that Buff: A Collie was available electronically, I happily ordered it (for my Nook-- it isn't available on Kindle yet). I hadn't read more than a sentence or two before I began laughing uncontrollably. It looks like someone just scanned an old print edition and published the result without bothering to proof it. This created this sort of deathless prose:

At random the kenhelman scooped up five-sixUis of ikt litter...

As a result of tins monopoly the sixth piippy throve apace. When she was eight weeks old, fate intervened cwice more to save her...

Her coat was like a chow^s, except that it was l^adc and white and tan-- as is no chowV between here and the Chinese Wall Her deep chest as as wide as a bulldog^s; her queer little eyes slanted like a coUie's; her forface was like a Great I>ane's, with its barrel muzzle and dewkips. She was as big as amasfiiff.

To clear upj in a handful of words, the mystery of Nina^s breeding, her diaai was Shawe's long-pedigreed and r^stered aad prize-winnki^ tricolour colKe, Shawemere Queen. Her sire was Upstreet Butcherboy, the fiercest and gamest and strongest and most murderous pit-terrier ever loosed ufxm a doomed oppo^iefit.

The roughly affectionate manhaiKIUii^ which had torn the Pom*s hair-trigger nerves aiMil tenous vitality to shreds had no effect at all upon Nina. On tlie contrary, she waxed fat under the dtntl caresses and yankings of her new owners, *Wliidi was lwky.

In short, it's ludicrously unreadable (fortunately it was free, or I'd be hollering to B&N and demanding my money back). It's not easy to decipher the above, but manhaiKIUii^ is meant to be "manhandling," which gives you some idea of how bad this is. If you happen to be one of those publishers who reissues public domain books, my advice is that scanning isn't enough. You have to carefully proof the resulting text, or you can wind up with a really hideous mess.

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