Friday, August 1, 2008

A few scattered typos

I read a lot of book reviews in my field (though not closely), and I’ve noticed a boilerplate comment appearing more frequently along the lines of today’s “As a side note, the reader will also encounter a few scattered typos, though infrequent.” Sometimes the reviewer actually lists a typo or two.

I’ve done a lot of proofreading in my life, and in fact spent much of yesterday doing proofreading. I know the joy of finding the elusive typo, as well as the pain of seeing the ones that make it through to print. A few scattered typos are inevitable. They are not reflective of whether the publisher has done a thorough job editing the book, nor whether the author has interesting ideas presented in a thoughtful manner, nor whether the reader will find the book entertaining or informative. Turning book reviews—or worse, book reading—into a game of typo gotcha seems like a dreadful development. Please, if you’re a book reviewer, only mention the typos in a book if they would cause a respectable press to actually recall the book.

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