Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Who on Earth Proofread THAT?

Printer's errors happen more often than they should. Typos, incorrect line breaks, missing pages even. It's rare though that a book is pulled off the shelves as a result. Publishers will usually just replace copies where there are major issues, especially since PE's don't usually occur in every batch that's printed.

But every so often, an error is big enough for the books to be pulled and pulped (aka literally shredded and destroyed). Just like it did with The Pasta Bible, a recent release from Penguin Books in Australia.

The Pasta Bible, however, did not contain a printer's error. The error occurred in the editing stages of the book and was just never caught--which is shocking given the nature of the error. One particular recipe called for "freshly ground black people" instead of pepper.


Here's what Penguin had to say about the matter:

Penguin Group (Australia) confirms the Pasta Bible ISBN 9780143011071 has been pulped due to an error in the recipe for Spelt tagliatelle with sardines and prosciutto. The recipe incorrectly suggests adding salt and freshly ground black people – instead of freshly ground black pepper. The error occurred during the book's editing process. A member of the public contactedPenguinto advise of the mistake, and 7,000 copies of the Pasta Bible were immediately quarantined in Penguin's warehouse and pulped. A revised edition of the Pasta Bible will be available from late May 2010.

Readers are advised that anyone who wishes to return their current edition of the Pasta Bible can do so by sending the book care of Reply Paid 83659, Penguin Books, 250 Camberwell Rd, Camberwell VIC 3124. Penguin will offer readers the choice of either a full refund or a replacement copy, once the new edition of the Pasta Bible becomes available. Penguin has also contacted Australian booksellers, to advise how remaining stock can be returned for pulping. The team at Penguin sincerely apologises for any offence this error may have caused readers.

Background on Pasta Bible Error

Misprints are always unfortunate and they are doubly unfortunate when they carry an unintended meaning. As the Pasta Bible is a cookbook, there was obviously no intent behind this mistake – it was simply a regrettable error.

At Penguin every book is proofread at least twice, depending on its complexity. In this case it is clear that a spell-check error crept in, the recipe incorrectly suggesting the addition of salt and freshly ground black people instead of freshly ground black pepper. Normally such an error would be picked up by proof readers, but they would have been concentrating on checking quantities, a common source of error in cookbooks. Penguin would also like to point out that it maintains the highest of standards throughout the editing process, hence a mistake such as this is a very rare occurrence. Obviously though, editors are human and even the best and most professional will at times overlook an error.

The moment Penguin was made aware of the misprint it took immediate action and pulped the 7000 copies still in our warehouse. Penguin will also willinglyreplace a copy of the Pasta Bible owned by anyone who feels uncomfortable about having a copy of the book in their possession.The team at Penguin sincerely apologises for any offence this error may have caused.

See Penguin's statement HERE

Talk about a bad proofreader!

Also, check out the AP article HERE.



  2. How do you NOT catch that kind of an error? Clearly the proofreaders weren't checking the recipe ingredients for anything other than spelling errors.

  3. Too heavy a reliance on MS Word's Spell Check makes a complacent proofreader lose sight of the words for the spelling bees.