Thursday, September 29th, 2011
24

Amazon Auto-Wires New E-Books of Neal Stephenson's "Reamde"

After pulling Neal Stephenson's ebook of Reamde off Amazon on Tuesday, early this morning, Amazon emailed to tell readers they could replace their copy. "The version you received had Missing Content that have been corrected," they wrote. (Or, apparently, their machines wrote. So glad the "Missing Content" "have been corrected.") And here's how it works: "If you wish to receive the updated version, please reply to this email with the word 'Yes' in the first line of your response. Within 2 hours of receiving the e-mail any device that has the title currently downloaded will be updated automatically if the wireless is on." It's a strange kind of revision, right? At some point, the book you're reading will be silently replaced with a new version of the book you're reading—AND GUESS WHAT, it'll force you to lose your place, so take a screenshot of your page or location number. Anyway, apparently some underpaid kids at HarperCollins did some really fast digital proofreading over the last 48 hours. (It's a big book! 1056 pages!) But what was the Missing Content! Did I read (past) the Missing Content already? Is Neal Stephenson super-mad? So many Missing Answers.

24 Comments / Post A Comment

keisertroll (#1,117)

I haven't been following this story. Did they recall Stephenson's books because the title was spelled "REAMED" on the cover?

SeanP (#4,058)

@keisertroll I keep reading it as "README".

Matt (#26)

You could also write down where you are in the book if you wanted. Like, on a piece of paper.

Matt (#26)

But then you'd have to remember where you kept the piece of paper.

Matt (#26)

Perhaps keep it on your person?

Matt (#26)

Maybe you could do the 'tie a string around your finger' trick.

Matt (#26)

But, honestly, I've never really understood why that's supposed to work.

Matt (#26)

Get this: you could send an email to yourself. Even if you 'archived' it, you could search for a keyword later.

@Matt I can't even remember where I filed the screenshot of my iPhone with my Page Number.

DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

Okay, Cryptonomicon was fine. Anathem, less so. (Anna Theme? Ann Athemm? Anna Thumb?) But now Ream Day??? NAME YOUR BOOKS WITH REAL WORDS, NEAL STEPHENSON! SOME OF US WANT TO TALK ABOUT THEM WITH OUR MOUTHS.

@DoctorDisaster ANATHEM is so fun to say! (Also such a crazy good book!)

I'm not sure I would have named this one Reamde. (Though I admire it!) There's gotta be another variant that's a WEE bit more hospitable. But now that I've said that… can't think of one! RDME.TXT maybe.

Neopythia (#353)

@Choire Sicha I just realized that it was Reamde and not Readme. I've been mentally transposing those letters the whole time! Agreed on Anathem. It was tough to get into due to all the new words, but definitely worth the effort. Also, for some reason I took to calling it Ann-a-the-um, though I don't think that's right.

DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

@Choire Sicha Around when I read Anathem I was dating a math major. At one point we were talking about something mathy, which happened a lot because I'm curious about things I don't understand, and this time I recognized something. I proudly blurted out, "Oh, I know about that, it's [somebody]'s theorum!" The very next second I realized that I had just name-dropped a made-up mathematician from a fictional parallel universe to the very person I had just lent the book. Me so smart.

DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

I relate this story here, because it's impossible to tell in person when I STILL DON'T KNOW HOW TO PRONOUNCE THE TITLE OF THE BOOK.

Limaceous (#2,392)

@DoctorDisaster
I know. I know! As far as pronunciation goes, I finally settled with "uh-NATH-em", accent on the second syllable. Like, "anathema" but with the last syllable omitted. That felt better than "AN-ath-em".
And then I spent six weeks convincing my boyfriend to read it, and another couple weeks telling him: "You just have to get through the next hundred pages; it starts to get really good…" (Of course, dying to talk to him about it The. Whole. Time., but not wanting to give any spoilers…)

boysplz (#9,812)

@DoctorDisaster This is uncorroborated but a friend once told me something about Neal Stephenson beginning to disregard any major editing recommendations about the time he began the Baroque Cycle. If true I think it explains a lot of why his books all suddenly doubled in size and incorporated made up words/meandering math proofs/whatever else he thinks needs to be smooshed into his stories.

On another note this is the kind of story that I don't really fact check on because I like to believe it's true despite any clear evidence one way or another. I love telling them to I can caveat them with exactly this.

KenWheaton (#401)

This is more and more starting to sound like one of Stephenson's puzzles/pranks on his readers.

Mr. B (#10,093)

So you're buying e-books from Amazon one day and wondering why St. Mark's is about to go out of business the next.

Mr. B (#10,093)

(Given that my avatar is the acid-free paper symbol, I guess my feelings about e-books were already kind of obvious.)

deepomega (#1,720)

@Mr. B Pretty sure Choire wasn't wondering about why it was going out of business. He was making bold assertions!

Mr. B (#10,093)

@deepomega "Buy a book in the East Village."

deepomega (#1,720)

Has Amazon ever bothered to explain the OCR-ish typos that show up in basically every kindle book?

@deepomega Er, no. Much as these typos annoy me, they're not Amazon's fault. Talk to the publishers. They're the ones who have editors on staff.

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