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by Peter Moskos

May 2, 2008

The Chronicle

Well, if any publicity is good publicity, I've sure been getting a lot of good publicity.

The latest is by Jennifer Howard at The Chronicle of Higher Education.

May 2, 2008
Princeton U. Press Recalls Typo-Filled Book and Says It Will Reprint

Princeton University Press has recalled all copies of one of its spring titles after discovering more than 90 spelling and grammar errors in the 245-page work. The book, Cop in the Hood: My Year Policing Baltimore’s Eastern District, by Peter Moskos, was published on Thursday in an initial press run of 4,000 copies.

In what appears to be a first, the press plans to reprint the book and have it back in stores later this month, after the errors have been corrected.
No one alleges any wrongdoing by Mr. Moskos, nor has the book’s factual substance been impugned. The errors came to light when the author’s friends and family members began sending him lists of the numerous spelling and grammatical mistakes they had noticed.

“I was flabbergasted and embarrassed,” said Peter Dougherty, the press’s director. “This is a terribly embarrassing matter for Princeton University Press.”

He added, “We’re very proud of the book, which makes the embarrassment all the greater.”

He said that Mr. Moskos’s manuscript had been given to an inexperienced copy editor who failed to do the job properly. “We take a lot of pride in the quality of our copy editing,” he said, citing the publisher’s 103-year track record. “In this case, we messed up very, very badly.”

Asked how much the recall would cost, Mr. Dougherty replied, “a lot.”


Anonymous said...

A bunch of us freelance copy editors are curious as to how this happened. Typically, there are lots of people who look at the ms. after it's been copy edited. Did you notice any errors when you were proofreading the page proofs, for example? What about the proofreader? Did he or she not pick up on any of the errors? Or the PUP production editor? It's just hard to fathom how this could have happened at a press that would be following standard university press procedures, which means that at least three people should have read through the proofs.

PCM said...

I just don't know.

The final proofs I read were already marked up by the copy editor, which made them not ideal as proofreading material.

I did notice errors when I proofread the page proofs. And then I sent it back. And then I don't know.

When the final “corrected” proofs left my hands, I remember thinking, “It sure would be nice to see the final clean version before it goes to press.” [“Clean,” of course, now being in ironic air quotes.] Somehow I figured it would all work out.

I read the proofs. My editor read the proofs. The copyeditor read the proofs. Even the indexer read the proofs (or a pdf version of them). And she gave us a list of many errors, which perhaps should have been a warning sign.

We’re still not sure if some corrections were marked but not made, or if they all slipped through. I suspect the latter, but I don’t know. And we may never know because apparently the proofs aren’t kept, which seems odd.

And was there a specific proofreader? I don't know. But I still don't really understand the system. After working on the book for so many years, the last few weeks just kind of went by in a blur. As this was my first book, perhaps I had too much faith in the system.

Anonymous said...

The system used to be good. I worked as a copy editor at a major publisher. We used to have 13 proofreaders and 20 copy editors in house, and we were all laid off. Although the publisher had also employed free lance proofreaders, the in-house proofreaders and editors would go over everything again until we found no errors. What a loss in the system this has been. Now there is no time for editors at the place to review everything word for word. (the printers were also laid off.)