SURVEY: Has Digitization Increased Errors in Books?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka

pencil on a keyboard

When you’re in school you’re constantly reminded to proofread your papers before submitting them to your professors. Unfortunately, time crunched students rarely take the time. Who can blame them, with computers and auto-correct promising to catch and fix your mistakes? It’s a bad habit born of convenience.

Sadly, this problem has also taken root in book publishing, where digitization has made publishing at the push of a button possible. The resulting mistakes — whether due to inattention or inaccurate OCR software — have¬†left many readers frustrated with the number of errors that have slipped through.

And it’s not just book publishing that has the problem: the June 5 edition of the Wall Street Journal had a glaring error in the deck of its front page headline, which read “U.S. Adds Just 54,0000 Positions…” A misplaced comma in a financial newspaper?! That has potential for disaster if it was in the context of, say, a stock price.

So tell us, has digitization exacerbated the problem of errors in books? Is it mere carelessness? A combination of both? Or perhaps readers, who demand that books be produced ever faster and sold ever more cheaply, are to blame?

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About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.