Double Standards

So, this morning at breakfast, I finished reading Jim Dent’s The Kids Got It Right. I’m a big fan of Dent’s work (he wrote The Junction Boys and Monster of the Midway among several others), but I found myself deeply troubled by what I saw in his newest book. On the whole, The Kids Got It Right is typical of Dent’s writing: He identifies a unique and compelling story about a football game, team, or player – sometimes famous, sometimes sorely overlooked – and tells it in a casual, easily accessible style that focuses on the people involved and the circumstances that brought them together rather than on the stat lines and final scores. The Kids Got It Right earns high marks in all of these areas. What troubles me, however, is the sheer number of typographical errors I found in the Kindle edition of the book. It seemed like there was a typo, a word omission, or a punctuation error on nearly every page! I’ve read a half-dozen of Dent’s other books – all of them in print – and don’t recall these kinds of mistakes.

Admittedly, I haven’t picked up a copy of The Kids Got It Right in print, but I have a hard time believing that the hardcover edition of the book could possibly be so riddled with errors. I will also admit that I am relatively naïve to the inner workings of the publishing industry, but wouldn’t the Kindle edition of a hardcover release from a famous author be produced by converting the same document file that was used to publish the print edition? And, even if it isn’t, why should the digital edition of the book be held to a different – worse, a lower – standard than the print edition?

Unfortunately, this phenomenon isn’t restricted to electronic books. The more my reading habits lead me into the digital realm, the sloppier I’m finding the spelling, grammar, and punctuation to be. Granted, I’m more a part of the problem than I am a part of the solution. But I’m also essentially a hobbyist without a professional copy editor (as are most of you, I’m sure). What excuse does a major publishing house have? Or the digital edition of a major newspaper?

Perhaps most infuriating is the fact that every resource I’ve ever read about self-publishing a digital book insists on the importance of professionalism and perfection. Which effectively means that it’s my responsibility to hold myself to a higher standard than the one observed by Macmillan Publishers, chicagotribune.com, etc.

Have you had a similar experience reading lately? Do you share my frustration? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

As always, thanks for reading.

CVA

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3 thoughts on “Double Standards

  1. Standards for writing in the digital realm are a lot lower than those for writing for print — at least at Yahoo, which employs many professional writers and editors who make dozens of embarrassing mistakes every day. Sometimes these mistakes are corrected hours after an article was published online. And that’s part of the problem: Knowing that their writing can be corrected later, Yahoo staffers produce text that is laden with typos, misspellings, factual errors, and so forth.

    • What I find particularly galling about this is that – as an English teacher – part of my job is to instill in my students the value of proofreading, editing, and PROFESSIONALISM in their written work. Every typo and grammatical error I spot in an online article fundamentally undermines this effort. How am I supposed to make a teenager understand the importance of maintaining high standards in his/her writing when the standard bearers themselves seem to have forgotten it? More and more it’s as if grammar is something you only have to know for standardized tests. After that, all bets are off.

  2. Pingback: Irony | Christopher V. Alexander - Husband, Father, Teacher, Coach, Author

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