The Kindle version of the book “Clinton Cash,” which has faced criticism from Hillary Clinton’s campaign, was updated this week to correct for “seven or eight” factual errors, according to publisher HarperCollins.
Amazon called the changes “significant revisions” in an alert to users.
“It may not be unheard of, but it is not common” to make such corrections to a published book, says Mike Shatzkin, a consultant with decades of experience in the publishing world. Shatzkin says e-book corrections are a relatively new phenomenon.
“It’s not like a lot of people have done this and there’s a protocol around it. There really are no rules about this,” Shatzkin says.
But publishing consultant Ted Hill, founder of THA Consulting, says there is a business case for keeping e-books updated. Publishers see it as customer service “and in many cases, consumers want to have that file updated dynamically,” he says.
“Consumers don’t know the fact that the book has changed a bit,” says Hill, pointing out that the publishing world is still debating that practice.
Publishing industry lawyer Jonathan Kirsch, who teaches about publishing at NYU and is himself the author of 13 books, says e-books should follow established conventions in printed books and in online journalism.
“Unless a publisher tells you what is being changed, the reader has no way to make a critical judgment about the credibility of the author,” Kirsch says. “The best practice would be to insert a marginal note or a footnote, which alerts the reader to what was the error that has been corrected.”