The useful list of free Smashwords books that I linked to in my last book review has now gone, so I found my next free read by going to Smashwords itself and searching for free books from their home page. I went into the Sci-Fi and Fantasy section, which wouldn’t be my normal first choice, but thought I should mix up the genres I’m reviewing a bit. From the ‘most downloaded’ list I picked the first book that appealed, which was this one. Having just blogged about book covers, I should mention that I really try not to let them influence me. It’s the words that matter, as far as I’m concerned. The blurb for Tamar Black – Djinnx’d showed an author with a sense of humour, so I bit and downloaded the book.

And I’m really glad I did. It’s a twist on the classic genie-in-a-bottle story and is very Terry Pratchett-esque in its humour. From the cheeky foreword and the very first chapter, with its sly rewriting of the Book of Genesis as a computer programming job, I was sucked in. Funny and smart. What’s not to like?

Well, actually, there is something that not everyone will like, and that’s the standard of editing. Font size changes randomly in the .epub version of the file and the punctuation is decidedly hit-and-miss at times. But (and this follows on from observations I’ve made before) it really doesn’t matter that much. It’s slightly irritating and my inner copy editor was itching to take out a red pen, but after a while I gave up noting down the errors (yes, I really did start to write them all down – thinking that the author might like to know about them) and just sat down to enjoy the ride.

There are four other books in the series, which sell for between $2.50 and $2.99. Now, the question is, would I pay for them, knowing that they are probably as badly edited as this one? And you know what, I think I probably would. But not right now – I’d want to get an ereading device first and then curl up in front of the fire with them in the winter. Paying to read things on my computer screen still seems wrong.

So there’s the proof of what I’ve been arguing in this blog for a while. Quality matters, yes, but if there’s a good read in amongst the errors then this reader is willing to overlook them and potentially pay for the next book, regardless. It’s time to stop wringing our hands about the quality of editing in ebooks – let’s just enjoy a damn good story when it presents itself instead.