Mighty Red Pen

August 9, 2011

Found a great deal on the home typo network

Filed under: Lit review,Pop culture,Spellbound — mighty red pen @ 5:05 pm
Tags: ,

So the book club I belong to got me reading Augusten Burroughs’ Sellevision. Okay, it was cheeky and fun in a weird kind of way, I’ll give it that. It definitely made me think way more about the world of home shopping networks than I ever had before.  And it made me want to check out other books by Burroughs, so that’s a win for him, I guess.

It also gets the prize for most typos I have ever found in a book. Ever.

I just read Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom. All 576 pages of it. And while I didn’t read Every.Single.Word., I can say that no typos jumped out at me (and no, this is not a dare. There may very well be typos). But in Sellevision, which is about half the size of Freedom, I spotted a ridiculous (at least six) number of typos.

What bugs me about the typos in Sellevision is that a. they were all easily avoided with some fact-checking because b. they mostly in brand names that I would guess were used to give the book some kind of cultural street cred. File that under: EPIC FAIL.

For instance, there’s Rogain when they meant Rogaine:

Kahula when they meant Kahlua:

Frangelica when Frangelico was wanted:

And Veuve Cliquot when they meant Veuve Clicquot.

Even more annoying was the misspelling of Concorde, which is correctly spelled just a few lines down the page:

This type of mistake was repeated on another page, when an identity crisis left Beanie Baby Peanut wondering if he was Peanut or Peanuts:

And those are just the ones I found. Sigh.


This level of sloppy proofreading put me in mind of “The Price of Typos” by Virginia Heffernan (h/t to Carol Fisher Saller, lately of Subversive Copy Editor and soon to be of Lingua Franca). Among other things, Heffernan writes, “Book publishers used to struggle mightily to conceal an author’s errors; publishers existed to hide those mistakes, some might say. But lately the vigilance of even the great houses has flagged, and typos are everywhere. Curious readers now get regular glimpses of raw and frank and interesting mistakes that give us access to unedited minds.” Heffernan points to a lot of interesting reasons why, to her mind, typos have become more prevalent in modern publishing, but basically the idea is this: people are sloppy, and typos are the written version of “your slip is showing.”



  1. There’s certainly something to be said for a style sheet, no?

    Comment by Steve Hall — August 9, 2011 @ 5:28 pm | Reply

  2. I used to think that it was the smaller publishers that let typos get through, but I’ve seen boo boos in books from even big publishers. I think it comes down to exceedingly tight profit margins that squeeze available editing time down to almost nothing.

    Comment by Val Span — August 9, 2011 @ 7:24 pm | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: