Not All Public Domain E-books Are the Same

Having never read a Conan the Barbarian story, I recently purchased The Phoenix on the Sword by Robert E. Howard. There are many collections of Conan stories, some written by authors other than the man who created Conan, and I wanted one written by Robert E. Howard and didn’t want to spend a lot. Fantasy isn’t my thing and I wasn’t sure I would like it.

Since the Conan stories by Howard are public domain, I had many options to choose from at various prices. The $0.99 version had a space between every paragraph and a paragraph indent—I prefer e-books to be rendered like the print versions, so I ruled that one out. There was a version for $1.99 from Booklasic that used proper formatting, which pleased me enough to purchase it.

I quickly delved into the world of Conan, savoring every pulpy word, then I got to chapter 2 and my trouble began. The very first line wasn’t complete. It ended in a comma. I thought the next paragraph would continue the thought, but it didn’t. Also, the first line was first person—which was odd because the first chapter was in third person—and the next line was in third. Something was wrong, a chunk of the text was missing, but how was I going to find out what it was? I looked at The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian, a collection of Conan stories published by Del Rey, which had a sample that included the entire story…whew.

I found out that the opening italicized text for chapter one is attributed to The Nemedian Chronicles—the italicized text was in the Booklassic version without the attribute—and the second chapter began with a poem, which was formatted well in the Del Rey version. The Booklasic version had only the first line of the poem, then went on with the story. That was odd, but figured that it must have been an oversight, so I continued reading the Booklassic version.

The same thing happened with Chapter three. I went back to the trusty Del Rey version and found that chapter three also begin with a poem, from which the Booklassic version only published the first line. Now I was annoyed and checked the opening of chapters four and five to find the same thing!

Although I continued reading the rest of the story using the Del Rey version as reference, I was annoyed and felt betrayed. And yes, I notified Google Play of this issue and got a refund.

Since I enjoyed the story despite this issue with Booklassic, and wanted to read more Conan stories, I was more than happy purchase the Del Rey collection, The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian. I’m looking forward to spending more time with the tales of Conan.


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