Thursday, December 28, 2006

Major error

The other day, in a bookstore in New York, I came across a brand new book in exactly my field. Concentrating on some of the stuff that I will be looking at in my book project. The kind of book that simultaneously excites you and makes you go cold...will it make my project irrelevant? you wonder in a panic. Having glanced at it after I bought it, I don't think it nullifies what I am trying to do; it can just be delightful and fascinating.

The other thing I noticed in giving this book a once-over is a huge mistake. The publisher is a big-deal university press - one of the biggest and best known and respected. It's a lovely hardcover first edition. On the back of the jacket are three blurbs from other scholars. Including one by the most prominent North American in the field. The name of this scholar is spelled wrong. And it's not just a minor mistake, like McAuley instead of MacAuley. It is missing one third of its letters. It is such a mess that it's shocking to me to think that this got by copy editors, editors, the author. How does this happen?

Update: I've just been sent the proofs for the article I am having published (yay!). My name is spelled wrong at the beginning of the article, where it's all bold and capitalized, and is also wrong when it appears at the top of every second page. At least I am catching it. But again, how does this happen??


Sarah said...

Turnaround time on proofs for academic titles is notoriously short. Someone I know just received a copy of her printed book and there were huge errors all the way through it. Pretty common, stupidly.

Anne said...

My book just came out from Palgrave. I blogged all summer about all the apalling copyeditiing problems. I think the book is pretty clean, but, oy!, it's no thanks to my editor or those to whom they outsourced it.

Sadly, I'm not surprised to read this at all.

(Here via Dr. Crazy and happy to find you...)

Hilaire said...

Agh - that's terrible, Anne! How frustrating.

Glad you're here - your place looks great, I will be stopping by.

Scott Palmer said...

While the example cited above is obviously extreme, my understanding is that these kinds of mistakes occur rather frequently.

Much of the problem has to do with the fact that many (if not most) major presses now outsource large elements of the production process to foreign countries (India especially) where the individuals charged with data entry may not have 5+ fluency in English and are working 9-hour shifts at the keyboard and, get the idea.