Rant – Avoid ebooks from Packt Publishing

Since I got my Kindle DX over 6 months ago I’ve been buying lots of Ebooks. Some from the kindle store, but actually most of them directly from publishers. mostly O’Reilly, and Pragmatic Bookshelf but also few others. Both publishers offer ebooks in variety of formats, including .mobi which works on Kindle (including Kindle apps for Windows/iOS and Android), epub which works on IPad and many other devices. The books are nicely formatted, including great formatting of source code, links are clickable etc.

android_kindle_pragProg

Above you can see an example of that, from a Prag Prog book, screenshot comes from the awesome Kindle for Android app.

I do this introduction to show you that I am used to a high standard of books. Also the fact that most publishers offer books in several formats (.mobi and .epub as a bare minimum, but most of them also offer PDFs that work on mobile devices and O’Reilly even offers .apk for some books). That’s the quality I’m used to and that I expect. And then I bought a book from another publisher – Packt Publishing.

Please be advised that the following is a rant.

tl;dr version – Packt Publishing absolutely sucks. Don’t buy from them.

Fail one – “yes, we have .epub” (no you don’t)

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The above comes from their website. I really wanted to get .mobi to read it comfortably on my Kindle, but I figured the epub will do. I can read epub on my phone and I thought I’ll just convert it to mobi if I needed. To my surprise and unlike advertised the .epub version of the book was nowhere to be found. I obviously learned that after I payed. To be fair, I checked few weeks ago and there was the epub version. It’s still a fail as they didn’t let me know in any way that it became available.

Fail two – “here’s your epub” (are you kidding me?)

I thought that (finally) getting the epub version would be the end of my problems. I was wrong – turns out they screwed up the formatting of code samples – there’s no indention at all, which makes reading them a horrible experience (and the book I bought has lots of code samples).

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Screenshot comes from fantastic Aldiko app for Android. To make sure that the formatting issue is not the fault of the app I checked it on two other apps including one on my PC – it’s broken everywhere.

Fail three – “you can read the .pdf on Kindle” (no I can’t)

Back to the purchase day – oh well, I thought, at least I have the .pdf version of the book. I opened it on my PC and it looked all right. So I copied it to my kindle and to my phone to read it on the bus the following day. The following day though when I tried to open it, it would show me the cover but when I tried to move forward to where, you know – the content is, the Kindle would freeze and show me white screen and .pdf viewer app on my Android would just plainly refuse to operate and crash. So the only option I was left with was to read the pdf on my PC.

Fail four – “Our commitment is to reply to all e-mails within 48 business hours.” (Well, it’s been four months…)

That really pissed me off, so I found contact info and send them an email:

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I’m still waiting for the response.

Fail five – “We won’t spam you anymore. Promise” (oh, btw, here’s our latest offer)

After giving up on them I noticed that they started sending me spam with offers for new books they publish. I complained and (to my surprise) quickly got an email with apologies and promise they won’t spam me again. However here’s what I found in my inbox today (the mail above, below is the other email from some time earlier):

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Bottom line

I now really appreciate the effort other publishers put into the high quality ebooks they produce I’m now even more happy to pay for them, knowing how horribly experience with ebook publishers can be.

  • Methylik

    But sir, Pack recently published the NH3 Cookbook… what kind of supporter of NHibernate are you? 😛

  • Tom

    He did purchase the NH3 Cookbook. It is the book that he is ranting about, the screenshot in section Fail Two is from page 49 of the NH3 Cookbook

  • I found the NH3 Cookbook useful but the correlation between the physical book and the downloadable code samples were terrible. Working from memory I think the pdf ebook and physical book weren’t even the same in places (book is at work so can’t check now)

  • Julian Copes

    Dear Krzysztof,

    My name is Julian Copes and I work Packt Publishing.

    Thank you very much for this feedback. I’m really sorry to hear that you’ve had a bad experience with our eBooks and our customer relations team.

    We treat all feedback seriously and find it very valuable. We are working on finding out where we failed to deliver our promises with this book and how to make sure it doesn’t happen again. We are currently experiencing some technical issues with our ePub eBooks and working to improve the delivery of these. We are in the process of making the conversion to Mobi format at the moment and should have these available to download in the next few months.

    I would like to offer our humble apologies for the unwanted emails from our mailing list, and I will work to ensure that your email is taken off the mailing list.

    If you encounter any further problems, receiving spam or with eBooks, feel free to contact me directly: julianc [AT] packtpub.com.

    Kind Regards,

    Julian Copes