By Erin L. Cox
As reported in the The Sydney Morning Herald last week, Penguin Group Australia had to reprint 7,000 copies of their book Pasta Bible because of a typo that called for “fresh ground black people” instead of “pepper.” Bob Sessions, the head of publishing for Penguin Group Australia, said that the mistake will cost them A$20,000 to reprint the books. But, they cannot recall the books from the stores.
In hearing this story, I decided to put on my would-be publisher hat and ask, “Would I have paid to reprint the books?”
The short answer is NO. It seems clear to me that it was a slip-up generated by spellcheck (we’ve all had spell check or the fill-in feature on text messaging provide the wrong word). Do you worry that it might offend readers? Perhaps, but none of the coverage of this story has had reader (or writer) response. Who found the typo and why did they choose to reprint? Was there the threat of a lawsuit or just the decision of righting this rather unpleasant typo?
If I were publisher, I think I would have printed a sticker to go on the books in stores alerting people to the typo and apologizing/clarifying. What would you have done?