I was ecstatic a few days ago when I discovered that I could download at least 35 books from my list for free to read on my desktop e-reader (I don't have a portable e-reader, yet, so I'm stuck reading on my laptop). When I finished Through the Looking Glass, I decided to try out one of these free e-books. I settled on Tess of the D'Urbervilles, having heard about the book but never actually read it.
The copy I downloaded for free was digitized from a 1921 volume. When I downloaded it I thought nothing of this. Words are words, the story will be the same, as long as it's typed it'll be no different than one being printed today. Oh, how wrong I was. Apparently spell checking wasn't used much in the 20's. Neither was proof-reading, either that or something went seriously wrong during the process of digitizing the book. In the first several pages the mistakes were enough to drive a person mad. In the middle of a sentence it'll cut to a new paragraph, like someone accidentally hit the 'Enter' key and didn't bother to fix it, just kept on typing. Quotation marks are very much nonexistent so it's hard to tell what a person is saying out loud or just thinking. The misspelled words are in overabundance, including the names of the main characters, and some to the extent that I can't tell what it's supposed to say. Yes, I realize that the process of printing books was much more difficult in the 20's than it is now so I'll forgive it, but it's incredibly frustrating.
However, it was free, so I have very little room to complain too much. You get what you pay for and I didn't pay anything, so I should be grateful to get anything at all. As I read more it's becoming less noticeable to me and I'm quickly picking up where the quotations should be so it's becoming easier to read. Plus, I'm very thrifty so I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. If I want something for free, I'll have to live with the imperfections.