Last night I received an email from Amazon stating that the copy of Neal Stephenson’s Reamde was “missing content” and that there was a new version available. Specifically:
We’re writing about your past Kindle purchase of Reamde: A Novel by Neal Stephenson. The version you received had Missing Content that have been corrected.
An updated version of Reamde: A Novel (ASIN:B004XVN0WW) is now available. It’s important to note that when we send you the updated version, you will no longer be able to view any highlights, bookmarks, and notes made in your current version and your furthest reading location will be lost.
I didn’t deal with it right away because I knew I had at least one highlight that I wanted to save.
This morning, it occurred to me that, since I’m 14% into the book, if I keep reading from the same spot I might never see the “missing content”. Since I still had the old version, I decided to make a copy of it and see if I could figure out what changes they were delivering to me. I saved my current position and the highlight, then responded to Amazon’s email to get the new copy.
While waiting for the new copy, I googled around a bit to see if I could details of what changed elsewhere. I didn’t turn up those details, but I did find a few sites noting that the book had been pulled from Amazon (it’s back now), as well as lots of complaints about formatting issues. I hadn’t noticed those issues myself.
After I got the new copy, I ninja’d up a text copy of both the old and new version, then massaged them a bit to make diffing easier. Specifically I deleted blank lines, and then made each sentence its own line.
As expected, the vast majority of the changes were formatting. The most common change was the removal of an odd character at the beginning of some words. The character is 0xC2AD. It renders as a dash in some tools, and I think it was probably not rendered at all in the Kindle software.
The rest of the punctuation changes were the addition and removal of dashes (“sledge-hammer” became “sledgehammer”), the occasional smart quote fix, and moving some commas around. I have the original diff, but I’m not sure how interesting it is so I’m not posting it.
Now for the meat – were there any meaningful changes to the text? There were indeed, though nothing so dramatic as a missing chapter. Here are all the meaningful changes that I could find:
Two sentences were elided and combined in first version:
- Details of history that Geraldine and herm it was like a dog whistle.” + Details of history that Geraldine and her staff wouldn’t necessarily put together into a bigger picture. + But his fans—to them it was like a dog whistle.”
This entire sentence was missing from the original. previous and next sentences provided for context:
And if there is some other such thing I have not heard of yet—none of that either!” + In Russian, Csongor said, “What if we need to go into the world of T’Rain?” In English, Ivanov said, “Only exception to rule: Zula can play T’Rain if necessary.
Another example of sentences being combined:
- Probing been preparing for the Wor one month in advance, who’s to say they weren’t preparing for it six months or even twelve in advance?” + Probing attacks on what would soon become the Earthtone Coalition’s front lines. + Which leads to the question, if certain people had been been preparing for the Wor one month in advance, who’s to say they weren’t preparing for it six months or even twelve in advance?”
I’m not really sure if this is a meaningful change or not, but it’s certainly bigger than punctuation:
- “Yes, but—”to do with each + “Yes, but—”
Some missing words from the original:
- She called you at 8:42 and told you this story about REAMDE investigation and said she needed to know who had cast a healing spell on her character.” + She called you at 8:42 and told you this story about working with me on the REAMDE investigation and said she needed to know who had cast a healing spell on her character.”
Here’s a change that’s not especially meaningful but I’m including because it’s actually a new typo, which is interesting:
- The thin smile came back. “I believe we have that adequately covered.” + The thin smile came back. “I believe we have that adequately covered.”1P
Last one – never would have gotten this far if I hadn’t been doing this, but it looks like they messed up the cover design credit. Oops!
- Cover design by James Iacobelli + Cover design by James Lacobelli
And that is that – nice to have a cleaned up version, but nothing to worry about missing if you’ve already started the book.
(Thanks to Perl, diff, and WinMerge)