ThreeMen In aB oat

Years ago, back when I was running the Monty Python Special Interest Group of American Mensa (but that’s another story), a fellow MPSIG member recommended Jerome K. Jerome’s novel Three Men In a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog). I read it, I enjoyed it. Some years later I read Connie Willis’s time travel novel, To Say Nothing of the Dog, which, rather obviously, was influenced by Jerome’s book; it’s a wonderful and very funny story, one of my favorites.

The Kindle edition of TSNotD is currently selling for two bucks so I picked it up, and decided to also get the Penguin Classics edition of TMiaB in Kindle format too. And now I’m telling you why not to do likewise.

As Carl Frank notes, there are formatting problems in Chapter 8. I bought the book anyway, figuring it was cheap enough and if there were problems in one chapter I could deal with them or get a refund. I found these problems did not make the chapter let alone the book “unreadable”. They affect only a few pages and all that’s wrong is a very badly placed left margin which leaves a very narrow text. Bad, annoying, but it can be read. I did indeed complain to Amazon about this and they credited me the price of the purchase.

What bothered me more was the frequent problems with spaces, or lack thereof, scattered throughout the book — or at least the first few chapters. “Hesaid” where it should be “he said” and the like. At one point “at one” should have been “a tone”. These errors certainly don’t make the book unreadable, either, but they do make it an unpleasant experience. Somewhere around chapter 4 I gave up and used my refund toward the Oxford World’s Classics edition of the combined Three Men in a Boat and Three Men on the Bummel. So far it is a far more readable edition (albeit without chapter entries in the table of contents).

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