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  Springer space books, Amazon and quality issues

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Author Topic:   Springer space books, Amazon and quality issues
ColinBurgess
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posted 11-15-2013 04:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ColinBurgess   Click Here to Email ColinBurgess     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am going to open one big can of worms here, based on information I only received a few days back, and which has ramifications for all Springer authors, and possibly many others.

Springer books these days are produced as Print on Demand (POD) publications, and they haven't had issues with Amazon before now. The problem is — and this surprised me a lot — that Amazon is to able print their own books for distribution, which often results in very poor quality reproduction. Springer has told me they have been contacting Amazon to try and resolve this issue, which has caused them a lot of customer dissatisfaction.

I did not know until their message to me that Amazon had their own POD capability, but I know Springer is desperate to find a solution as they are copping a lot of flak over this issue, and Amazon only cares about sales, not solving printing problems.

I can tell you that I received my box of author copies of Freedom 7: The Historic Flight of Alan B. Shepard, Jr. direct from the Springer warehouse, ones which Springer had produced through their own POD system, and the photos are absolutely quite pristine throughout the book. So it would seem that while criticism has been directed at Springer in the recent past, it is actually a problem created and being perpetuated by Amazon.

I can only suggest that for the time being, orders for Springer publications should be directed to Springer and definitely NOT to Amazon, even though the discount is lost. I have seen an Amazon copy and it is rubbish when compared to the copies I got direct from Springer's.

Over recent years there have been a lot of complaints about photo reproduction and streaking and overall poor quality of Springer books, and for other Springer authors who are mystified by this criticism, look no further than copies ordered from Amazon.

PeterO
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posted 11-15-2013 06:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for PeterO   Click Here to Email PeterO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for that insight, Colin. I had no idea they were print-on-demand (POD), or I would not have ordered them from Amazon.

The same problem exists with the Steve Ginter "Naval Fighters" series, where the old volumes that were long out of print are now POD by Amazon. Steve has given the same warning as you, but unfortunately in his case there is no other source.

Ronpur
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posted 11-15-2013 06:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ronpur   Click Here to Email Ronpur     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My copy of "Freedom 7" was from Amazon, and its pictures were rather dark. It reminded me of an old photocopy of a picture as for the quality.

Next one, I will order direct from Springer.

GoesTo11
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posted 11-15-2013 07:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoesTo11   Click Here to Email GoesTo11     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Appreciate the heads-up, Colin. There are several Springer titles on my Amazon list, including a couple of yours.

I'll keep this in mind going forward.

dom
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posted 11-16-2013 04:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree Colin, Amazon POD copies are terrible...

DON'T ORDER THEM!

When Cold War Space Sleuths was published I ordered five copies from Amazon but every single one of them was badly printed - and not even in a consistent way!

Needless to say I sent them back for a refund and would encourage people who have already purchased your book to do the same - maybe Amazon will get the message?

PeterO
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From: Rochester, NH
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posted 11-16-2013 08:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for PeterO   Click Here to Email PeterO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Barnes & Noble generally has Springer books at the same discount as Amazon. For instance, Freedom 7 is with $0.10 of Amazon's price.

The question is, who prints B&N's copies?

Grounded!
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From: Bennington, Vermont, USA
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posted 11-16-2013 08:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Grounded!   Click Here to Email Grounded!     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Earlier this week my (2) copies of "Wheels Stop" arrived from Amazon. I chose to order from Amazon instead of directly from UNP due to the cost savings, which were considerable... $20 for the 2 books with free shipping.

So, a couple of questions:

How can Amazon sell a new book for $10/copy less than the publisher? Are POD books limited to soft-cover?

I see nothing wrong with the print quality of my copies.

Lasv3
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From: Bratislava, Slovakia
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posted 11-16-2013 09:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lasv3   Click Here to Email Lasv3     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In my opinion it shall be quite easy for Springer to push Amazon to better quality. Neither Amazon nor anybody else can print the Springer books by themselves without the Springer permission. The lower Amazon price can bring bigger sales which may suit Springer well. On the other hand they should protect their ( Springer) good name as the low quality prints carry the name of Springer, not Amazon.

I am sure Springer have all necessary tools to improve the Amazon POD books quality. The price will be most probably higher but I personally would rather pay more than to be disappointed with the book from Amazon - I also ordered Freedom 7 from them and all I can say is the book content is great, selection of photos is excellent, print quality is very poor.

The book like this deserves better treatment from Amazon (and I think Springer are to be at least partially blamed as well), as do their buyers.

cspg
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posted 11-16-2013 09:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In response to Colin's and others' posts:
  • the publishing arm of Amazon is CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. Most NASA books (SP) are reproduced from them. And customer review indicate quality printing issues.

  • How come Amazon can publish it's own version of a book? Well, if they can grasp the e-book version (the Kindle version?), that shouldn't be too difficult. Whether it's legal, I don't know.

  • I can confirm that pictures in Freedom 7 are dark and not of the best quality. Book purchased from Amazon.

  • But I can say the exact opposite with "Partnership in Space: The mid to late nineties". Pictures are pristine and in color (see my post on the appropriate thread). Book also purchased from Amazon for $33.97. The same regarding "To Orbit and Back Again", Davide Sivolella. Color pictures, diagrams are just fine.

  • The "Don't Order" them slogan is fine but then SOMEONE will have to explain to me the following: I have pre-ordered "Partnership in Space: The mid to late nineties" from Amazon for $30. If Springer also used Print on Demand, why do they charge $189 for the same book? They never went that high for such type of book — it is aimed at the general public the last time I checked — and other volumes in the series were in the $30-50 range.
So blaming Amazon is a bit easy if you ask me. Who's to say that the POD from Springer isn't done in different runs, and some (the first ones) may be better than the others. Is there proof that Amazon printed those books? I think Springer has to look at their own business practices before we jump to conclusion.

I'm not defending Amazon but in view of the lack of response from Springer regarding their pricing policy for Partnership In Space, I fail to see why I should believe anything they say, until hard evidence is brought forward.

If Amazon printed a Springer book without their knowledge or approval, there's a copyright lawsuit on the horizon.

The problem with Amazon is the discount they ask from publishers (which is outrageous recalling email exchanges with Rob Godwin from Apogee Books) to have their books on Amazon's catalog/distribution. And Springer may be confronted with this particular issue. POD + huge distribution costs may explain the price they charged for "Partnership in Space." But again, I'm not going to pay $189 for a book, no matter what.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 11-16-2013 12:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by cspg:
How come Amazon can publish it's own version of a book? ...If Amazon printed a Springer book without their knowledge or approval, there's a copyright lawsuit on the horizon.
I can't state this for certain, but I have to believe that it was Springer's choice to have Amazon print their books on demand.

It seems to be a cost-saving measure (some of those savings being passed onto to the customer). Springer doesn't have to print and maintain inventory of any given title and it doesn't incur any shipping charges.

As an aside, learning that Springer is now a print-on-demand publisher helps explain how it maintains such a large catalog of titles.

cspg
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posted 11-16-2013 01:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
I can't state this for certain, but I have to believe that it was Springer's choice to have Amazon print their books on demand.
Then, the product page for Freedom 7 should clearly say that the publisher is Amazon, not Springer or that Amazon is printing on behalf of Springer.

And Springer has an online webshop. Asking Amazon to do all the work would undermine Springer's own efforts.

And the titles we are referring to (Freedom 7 and others) are published in association with Praxis. You can order books from them, but you're redirected to the Springer's website and ultimately to Springer's webshop.

And that still does not explain the $189 for the "Partnership in Space" book (now $55.84 at Amazon, $189 from Springer; the previous volume, published in 2012 is selling for $29.95 — same for the first two volumes; the third goes for $39.95; makes you truly wonder how they managed to come up with $189 for the latest volume; pricing is more or less from Amazon).

I think I'll email Praxis. Done.

cspg
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posted 11-18-2013 06:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
According to Praxis, it's a mystery to them (both the price tag and printing issues). They will bring this up to Springer New York.

cspg
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posted 11-20-2013 03:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A word from Springer New York: the pricing issue was a mistake.

I have asked for any insight into the quality issues.

cspg
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posted 11-21-2013 04:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Springer just confirmed the following: It has no control over the quality issues regarding their publications after they have sent the files to Amazon for printing.

ColinBurgess
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posted 11-21-2013 09:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ColinBurgess   Click Here to Email ColinBurgess     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is a very sad situation, and not only for those who buy Springer books from Amazon. As a Springer author I feel bloody awful when people write or post and mention the streaky, over-contrasted state of the photographs within the book, and I'm sure this is a common complaint for Springer authors.

I am not in any way suggesting people should buy directly from Springer in future, but all I can say is that the books I received direct from the Springer warehouse were absolutely fine, and the photographs were reproduced to the highest quality.

This problem really does need to be resolved, as it is totally unfair on the authors and Amazon buyers. I advised Springer of this problem earlier this month following a couple of complaints, and they gave the same explanation as Chris, although they did add they were trying to follow up this and numerous other complaints with Amazon. I know one Springer author who recently ordered several copies of his book from Amazon, and when they arrived he took one look at the photos, bundled the books back up and demanded a refund. Maybe some other people should do the same.

Lasv3
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posted 11-21-2013 11:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lasv3   Click Here to Email Lasv3     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
So Springer say they have no means to influence the Amazon's print quality?

Amazon is their contract agent in this case and if they do not have the quality clause in the contract that means Springer does not care what product comes into the hands of their buyers — it's the Springer name on the books bought from Amazon.

Or the Amazon sales volumes are so interesting that even if Springer had some means of influence they do not want to disturb their big agent.

Instead of doing something, Springer use quite childish excuses which is very bad and can eventually turn against themselves one day — the clients are no fools.

cspg
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posted 11-22-2013 06:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ColinBurgess:
I am not in any way suggesting people should buy directly from Springer in future, but all I can say is that the books I received direct from the Springer warehouse were absolutely fine, and the photographs were reproduced to the highest quality.

That's what I asked the person who kindly responded to my queries (and thanks to Praxis for following this up; Springer's contact form is a useless), of course, the answer will probably be "yes"!

That being said, is the problem Springer or Springer-New York? Has anyone encountered printing issues with books purchased from the UK for example? And Colin, do you receive your copies from Springer (Germany) or Praxis (UK)?

nelyubov
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posted 11-22-2013 07:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for nelyubov   Click Here to Email nelyubov     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I just the other day received mine from Amazon and see no difference from other Praxis Springer books I have received. The photos in mine are fine and of good quality as always. I see none of what has been talked about above. Maybe Amazon has a new shipment of books in?

PeterO
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posted 11-22-2013 12:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for PeterO   Click Here to Email PeterO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This issue begs a bigger question. Since the printing quality has been shown to be lower on Amazon-printed copies, what about their paper quality and binding? My Amazon copy, as well as having poorly reproduced photos, has a low-quality, mass-market paperback feel to it. It's printed on uncoated, very lightweight paper that has a slightly rough feel to it. My copy of Space Sleuths, purchased several months ago, has a similar feel. Both have a lightweight cover, and their bindings are more flexible than most of my paperback books.

By contrast, my earlier Springer volumes have coated paper and a heavier binding and covers, as well as much better image reproduction. Was Amazon not the printer for the earlier volumes, or have they lowered the quality of their raw materials on the new books?

Philip
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posted 11-22-2013 01:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The most recent Springer book I've bought via Amazon.co.uk was "Asteroids: Prospective Energy and Material Resources" — very light paper indeed and the last page states: Printed by Printforce, the Netherlands (overall good quality of the images and graphics).

Lewis007
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posted 11-24-2013 01:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lewis007   Click Here to Email Lewis007     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The issue is not restricted to Springer books alone. I ordered the book "Shuttle MIR" by Clay Morgan from Amazon early this year, and got a poorly-printed black & white copy instead of a color version. I do believe that inside the book it was stated that it was printed by Amazon, although the website now says differently (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform). I already have the book (in color) in PDF format, but, being old-fashioned (in the eyes of the younger generation), I preferred to have a copy for my space library.

I got a full refund, with as main reason that the book should be accompanied by a CD-ROM, which was lacking.

hermit
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posted 11-24-2013 10:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for hermit   Click Here to Email hermit     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have heard of early Springer-Praxis books being print-on-demand'ed with the labelled "Colour Section" being printed in black and white.

cspg
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posted 11-24-2013 10:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Lewis007:
I do believe that inside the book it was stated that it was printed by Amazon, although the website now says differently (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform).

They're the same.

quote:
I got a full refund, with as main reason that the book should be accompanied by a CD-ROM, which was lacking.

That's because the original book was a NASA SP publication- amazon won't be reproducing cd-rom.

Sometimes the Government is way better than the private sector!

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