The Sword and Laser discussion

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A Rant about a Particular Aspect of eBooks

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message 1: by Eric (new)

Eric Mesa (djotaku) | 617 comments I know that even among those of us who enjoy the Laser part of Sword and Laser there are many paper book aficionados. But I was curious if others find it frustrating that ebook metadata seems to be in the same state as late 90s MP3s: messy, incomplete, and all over the place. If you've been around long enough you've read me recommend Humble Bundle and StoryBundle as great sources of DRM-free ebooks. But the books I get from there sometimes have all the metadata fields like genre and description filled out and sometimes have next-to-nothing filled out. The books from Barnes and Noble and Amazon that I add to Calibre are often worse - sometimes missing the publisher and publication date.

Imagine buying a paper book in which the back/dust jacket had no description and the copyright page didn't have any of its information filled out. This drives me nuts.

I really had to get that off my chest. Anyone else want to pile on the rant?


message 2: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (johntaloni) | 3865 comments Considering the great boon ebooks have been to my reading, I will live with it. The ability to read at night in my bed without disturbing my wife with a light makes my kindle fire worth the cost all by itself. Then there's the ability to download free stuff from libraries like gutenberg.org. And ebooks from libraries themselves.

I can see how the limitation you're talking about can be annoying, but overall? I'll live with it.


message 3: by Leesa (new)

Leesa (leesalogic) | 635 comments Not a perfect solution, but one I use. I've found that Goodreads has much better metadata information than Amazon.

Whenever I add books to my Calibre library I have a set list of things I do:

1. Add books (from Kindle, Humble Bundle, or weightless books folders)
2. Edit metadata. And I pick Goodreads if it is available. It generally has the best tags and has the series names and sequence (critical for me as I read many series)
3. Convert to epub (batch convert)
4. Upload batch to my pending folder in Goodreads
5. Batch add page count (using Goodreads). Last I checked tho, this plug in was broken and uses word count instead of page count and I'm not programmer savvy enough to figure out how to fix it.


message 4: by Leesa (new)

Leesa (leesalogic) | 635 comments But let me add a rant! I sure wish Kindle would allow the app to organize. I HATE seeing a long list of unrelated books. I want to be able to truly categorize so I can move the books to folders of my choosing. Even a simple: Fiction, Non-Nonfiction, Read categorization. The collections feature doesn't really suit my purposes as it doesn't really move the book to that folder.

I have a Sony eReader, so I use Calibre to move books to and from that reader, but Kindle is not really friendly to anything, so if I'm on my phone or my Kindle Fire, I'm stuck with that crappy sorting system.

There's my ebook rant! Otherwise, I love ebooks :)


message 5: by Thane (new)

Thane | 476 comments Leesa wrote: "Not a perfect solution, but one I use. I've found that Goodreads has much better metadata information than Amazon.

Whenever I add books to my Calibre library I have a set list of things I do:

1. ..."


That would be nice. Good suggestion.


message 6: by Eric (last edited Jan 21, 2015 05:50PM) (new)

Eric Mesa (djotaku) | 617 comments Leesa: Hmm. I've been using Amazon source in Calibre and have been a bit underwhelmed. I'll have to make sure I have it prefer the Goodreads source.

All others: As for organization on eReaders, I'm shocked it hasn't been solved yet. Perhaps a chance for someone to break the current Amazon hegemony.


message 7: by David H. (new)

David H. (farrakut) | 908 comments A lot of companies that do things like that (poor interfaces) don't really care about organization. They want you to buy stuff. Don't like the stupid little carousel? Doesn't matter, they're not going to put any more effort into it.

Haven't you ever noticed that when you do an Amazon search on their website, you can't sort the results alphabetically? They don't want you to FIND things, they want you to BUY things.

Goodreads has a similar issue in that when you complain about some of the way they organize things (especially on the backend), they turn around and claim that they're a social media site, not really a book cataloging site. I mean, they use "number of spaces" to differentiate between authors with the same name. They show an entry of "read March 1, 2005" as "read March 2005."

There are tons of mistakes in Goodreads system, and I try the best I can when I browse and see glaring issues, but the fine details I only do for the books I own.


message 8: by Kevin (new)

Kevin | 701 comments Eric wrote: "I know that even among those of us who enjoy the Laser part of Sword and Laser there are many paper book aficionados. But I was curious if others find it frustrating that ebook metadata seems to be..."

Yes, it's f'ing annoying. I recently got some digital comics off Comixology.eu, and they have *nothing* in their metadata fields. Even the book's title is formatted like a directory link.


message 9: by Michele (new)

Michele | 1154 comments Hmm, I pay no attention to the metadata stuff - as long as I have the title, author name, and the book itself I'm good - I can look up the rest I I need it for something.

As for the Kindle organizing - I just got a Paperwhite for Xmas and I spent a few days setting up all my collections and putting every book I have into them, and now as I buy new ones I put them in right away and then I set my home screen to "collections" and find my books that way instead of scrolling through them all one book at a time.

It's kind of a pain at first, but at least I get to organize them however I choose.


message 10: by Lindsay (new)

Lindsay | 593 comments I'd rather the metadata issues with ebooks than the bugs in the search and dictionary look-up features of paper books. (One seems non-existent and the other is too slow).


message 11: by Dara (new)

Dara (cmdrdara) | 2693 comments Michele - I organize my Paperwhite the same way. It's so easy to find something to read. Want some scifi? There's a folder for that!


message 12: by terpkristin (new)

terpkristin | 4120 comments Hmm...when most of my 200+ unread books are either SF or F, it's hard to figure out a logical categorization scheme.

My problem with the "collections" is that when I'm halfway through organizing, I figure out a better way to do and start over. And then rinse, repeat. Ergo, I use the search function on my PW a lot. ;)


message 13: by Travis (new)

Travis | 17 comments Leesa wrote: "Not a perfect solution, but one I use. I've found that Goodreads has much better metadata information than Amazon.

Whenever I add books to my Calibre library I have a set list of things I do:

1. ..."


I will definitely have to look for that plugin. Thanks for the suggestion!


message 14: by Travis (new)

Travis | 17 comments Lindsay wrote: "I'd rather the metadata issues with ebooks than the bugs in the search and dictionary look-up features of paper books. (One seems non-existent and the other is too slow)."

LMFAO!


message 15: by Michele (new)

Michele | 1154 comments Yeah, I have a general fantasy and SF and then also urban fantasy, YA, historical, steampunk, romance, cyberpunk, space opera, military, classics, etc., and I have books in more than one, and one for each author that has a lot of books (mysteries series mostly) and I'll probably come up with more as I go on.

It certainly makes it easier if I'm in the mood for something specific. And the "recent" filter helps with finding stuff when I switch between books.


message 16: by David H. (new)

David H. (farrakut) | 908 comments Oh wow, I just organize my collections by series.

If I only have the first, it's "New Series," and I throw them all in there.

I also use Standalones, Nonfiction, Short Stories (I also include anthologies/collections), and Continuing Series.

I use "Continuing Series" as a grab-bag of sequels (I have a pathological horror of having a collection with only 1 book in it, so once you're down to one book, into Continuing Series you go!).

This way I don't have to multi-tag anything, and it keeps my 300+ books in line.


message 17: by Robyn (new)

Robyn | 115 comments Ooh, new project next time I'm bored and need to exercise my OCD demons - organising my ebooks! I like these ideas.


message 18: by Eric (new)

Eric Mesa (djotaku) | 617 comments Lindsay wrote: "I'd rather the metadata issues with ebooks than the bugs in the search and dictionary look-up features of paper books. (One seems non-existent and the other is too slow)."

Funny, but with paper books I can usually find a general section of a book and narrow my search from there faster than I can remember the exact words to look up. When AI gets to the point where I can ask my ebook software to find "that part where Jon kills the first alien", then ebook search will surpass paperbook search.

Dictionary lookup, on the other hand, is something I use all the time. I've read long enough that I've picked up on a lot of words, but it's nice to know exactly what a word means. Think of the difference between mad and furious.


message 19: by Eric (new)

Eric Mesa (djotaku) | 617 comments Robyn wrote: "Ooh, new project next time I'm bored and need to exercise my OCD demons - organising my ebooks! I like these ideas."

David wrote: "Oh wow, I just organize my collections by series.

If I only have the first, it's "New Series," and I throw them all in there.

I also use Standalones, Nonfiction, Short Stories (I also include ant..."


Michele wrote: "Yeah, I have a general fantasy and SF and then also urban fantasy, YA, historical, steampunk, romance, cyberpunk, space opera, military, classics, etc., and I have books in more than one, and one f..."

Interestingly, because I have Calibre and all my ebooks in there (no matter where I bought them), I don't bother with eBook organization. If they have the proper metadata, they are self-organizing. I can do simple searches on tags or authors or I can do complex searches with the virtual library feature (using booleans).

Most of the time I'm using a "read" tag to quickly filter out the books I've already read when I'm figuring out what to read next.

On my reader itself, I find that my 1st Gen Nook is tedious with its bookshelves so I just have 3 bookshelves on there: Currently Reading, Next Up, Unread. And I typically only add the next few books I plan on reading to keep things from getting overwhelming. I also usually add a book or two to Google Reader so that if I'm at, say, my in-laws for the weekend and didn't bring my Nook, I can start a book if I find myself with copious free time.


message 20: by Lindsay (new)

Lindsay | 593 comments I use a custom field in my calibre library to indicate when I read a book in yyyy-mm format. Good for sorting and great for year end summaries and such. I wish there was an automatic page count field though.


message 21: by Ken (new)

Ken (kanthr) | 334 comments I'd have to edit and establish a standard for metadata. I am a stickler for order. So OCD. So very OCD.

This is why I like to stick to paper...


message 22: by Eric (new)

Eric Mesa (djotaku) | 617 comments Lindsay wrote: "I use a custom field in my calibre library to indicate when I read a book in yyyy-mm format. Good for sorting and great for year end summaries and such. I wish there was an automatic page count fi..."

Hmm. Didn't think about custom fields. Great way to keep track of the data if/when Goodreads goes away. Worst case scenario, a tag for year read wouldn't be bad either. Maybe combine that with yours. Learning oh so much. Glad I started this topic.


message 23: by Lindsay (new)

Lindsay | 593 comments I also use custom fields to indicate which of my to-read lists a book is on, a field to indicate award nominees and winners and a field with a page count (which I use for my to-read list).


message 24: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 6114 comments Publishers still seem to treat ebooks with a low priority. You're lucky to get page numbers and a table of contents.


message 25: by Eric (new)

Eric Mesa (djotaku) | 617 comments Tamahome wrote: "Publishers still seem to treat ebooks with a low priority. You're lucky to get page numbers and a table of contents."

So true. Although, depending on the book, sometimes I hate having a table of contents because it can end up being spoilerific if the chapters have titles.

Lindsay wrote: "I also use custom fields to indicate which of my to-read lists a book is on, a field to indicate award nominees and winners and a field with a page count (which I use for my to-read list)."

Pretty neat. I tend to use tags for some of that stuff. So I could have a custom field for which bundle the book was in, but I have tags for that. I think each approach has pros/cons.


message 26: by Valerie (new)

Valerie (darthval) | 96 comments Hmmm, I am going to have to try this Collections feature for my Kindle Fire. I've long wanted a way to organize my ebooks better.


message 27: by Leesa (new)

Leesa (leesalogic) | 635 comments Does the collection feature tie to the account or to the app? I read across several devices, so don't want to have to do this 3-4 times each time I add a batch of books.


message 28: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandikal) | 1212 comments Leesa wrote: "Does the collection feature tie to the account or to the app? I read across several devices, so don't want to have to do this 3-4 times each time I add a batch of books."

It ties to the device. I like it because my husband and I both have Paperwhites and use the same account. We wouldn't want to use the same method to organize our books and we do overlap some books. I really like that the Kindle lets us each view only the books that are on our device. He doesn't need to wade through my books and I don't need to wade through his.

Tamahome wrote: "Publishers still seem to treat ebooks with a low priority. You're lucky to get page numbers and a table of contents."

You're lucky to get proper spelling and punctuation.


message 29: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (johntaloni) | 3865 comments I am really impressed at amount of organization people are putting into their lists. I never have more than two unread books on my kindle - I buy (or borrow) as I go. So my to-read list is "stuff near the front." Books I've read are "stuff starting a few swipes past the front."

I suppose that makes me the average ebook reader, which is why the publishing companies don't bother with the metadata. Sorry peeps! :)


message 30: by Michele (last edited Jan 23, 2015 01:55PM) (new)

Michele | 1154 comments The collections will sync up with your cloud - at least my paperwhite tells me it will. I haven't tried it yet, and some of my books are uploaded personally from epub that I changed over so those won't go.


message 31: by [deleted user] (new)

I did not know Paperwhite had a collections feature. O_O I've just been musing how that would be a useful feature.....I'll try figuring out how to do that.


message 32: by Eric (new)

Eric Mesa (djotaku) | 617 comments Lindsay wrote: "I also use custom fields to indicate which of my to-read lists a book is on, a field to indicate award nominees and winners and a field with a page count (which I use for my to-read list)."

Thanks to you putting this in my head I went into Calibre and created a "read" column so I could remove the read tag and have cleaner tags. Of course, now I need to clean up my tags. Some of the books are a little ridiculous in their tagging.


message 33: by Eric (new)

Eric Mesa (djotaku) | 617 comments This should give some idea of the organization of my ebooks (before I did the changes from last night's post):

http://server.ericsbinaryworld.com/eb...


message 34: by Lindsay (new)

Lindsay | 593 comments Oh wow, those tags are a mess :)


message 35: by Eric (new)

Eric Mesa (djotaku) | 617 comments Yeah. I have done work to do.


message 36: by Joe Informatico (new)

Joe Informatico (joeinformatico) | 888 comments I'm a public librarian, and this really gets my goat. We're reliant on metadata from Overdrive, which presumably they're getting from the publishers, and it's bad. When you put the ebook metadata side-by-side with the cataloguing data of the print version of the same title, the lack of detail and care is notable. I'm not saying there aren't issues with library cataloguing, but at the very least library cataloguing has controlled authority headings for author names*, and is more consistent with series notes. For the latter, I've seen different volumes of the same series listed under very different series titles. You'd never know they were part of the same series, and for SF&F titles, that's a major issue. Especially when this data already exists! (From the Library of Congress, mostly.)

*To translate the jargon: librarians recognized a long time ago that we needed a way to distinguish between authors with the same name. So if there's a Jane Smith who writes fantasy novels and a Jane Smith who writes non-fiction books about science, they're given unique authority headings. So if you click on fantasy-Smith's name, you don't get science-Smith's books in your results. Most ebook retailers don't build such functionality into their search algorithms or metadata, so instead it will just search for the key terms "Jane" and "Smith" in the author field, getting you both fantasy-Jane Smith, science-Jane Smith, and a whole bunch of other authors with Jane and Smith in their names who are neither of two.


message 37: by Eric (new)

Eric Mesa (djotaku) | 617 comments Joe Informatico wrote: "I'm a public librarian, and this really gets my goat. We're reliant on metadata from Overdrive, which presumably they're getting from the publishers, and it's bad. When you put the ebook metadata s..."

I say with seriousness, perhaps these tech companies need to hire some librarians. Right now it's not too big of a deal, but with my ebook library approaching 300 books it's already looking cumbersome to fix all that. I'm sure there are some with larger libraries, but I think we're on the early adopter side of things (given that I've heard that ebook growth has petered out - ie people are buying ebooks, but the rate at which they do so has stabalized). As more of the common person finds it hard to find "that one book" in their library, something's going to need to change. The sooner the better.


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2837 comments We have the same problem with our ten, yes ten, academic eBook vendors. The subject headings don't even work properly if they exist much less authority control. Siiiiiigh,


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