Top critical review
Amazon Buyer Beware
Reviewed in the United States on June 28, 2014
This classic by Arthur Conan Doyle was a favorite of mine growing up, and I wanted to buy a nice paperback copy for my daughter who likes both science and fantasy novels. I did not pay much attention to which of several available editions to pick, liked the cover photo of this one because it does not spoil the reader's discovery of what sort of creatures the "lost world" contains, and figured that there was little any publisher could do to mar the text of Arthur Conan Doyle.
Doyle's text is indeed intact and despite being written over a hundred years ago will, I think, still appeal to a young reader today. But, I nonetheless feel swindled. SaltHeartPublishers (whose website says it is based in the "beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia" and that it aims "to provide the public with quality reading material and bring attention to literary works relevant to our times") seems to have little notion of what a normal book looks like. I am not a lawyer, and there are evidently legal issues relevant here, but I have difficulty understanding why a book might have to be printed without the slightest explanation of prior publication (all it says in the inside cover is "This work resides in the public domain," though there is a rather cryptic and unexplained year printed beneath the author's name on the title page), and the publisher's location is not mentioned anywhere in the book. An odd note on the inside back cover says it was "Made in the USA, San Bernardino, CA").
It took me scarcely a minute on-line to figure out why this "book" appears in the form it does. They have copy-pasted exactly what is available for free on Project Gutenberg. For my extra $8 plus shipping I got that free text in a paperback book form. It otherwise resembles no self-respecting book I have ever seen. The Project Gutenberg formatted table of contents looks ghastly in a book. There are no spaces between the chapter names, which are capitalized, in quotes, underlined, and in exactly the same Gutenberg typewriter font. The paragraphs in the book text itself are set apart not by indentation but by spaces, "business letter" style. It looks very weird. I would gladly have paid double the price I did to get a real book. I am not even sure I want to give this to my daughter now, but living in Central Europe it is hard to find English language books, and summer vacation looms.
I have been a satisfied Amazon customer since the company began in the late 1990s, but have learned an important lesson with this experience. This not the first instance I have encountered here what you see being NOT what you get, only the most disappointing. Amazon evidently does not vet what it sells. In the future, I will be more wary of buying a book on Amazon from an unknown publisher that does not offer the "look inside" function. Amazon offers services that few bookstores could hope to match, and my regard for the company's overall book sales function remains high, but it is clear to me now that continued competition from bookstores serves a very valuable quality control purpose.