Friday, August 03, 2007
Today I am in mourning.
I am lamenting the passing of one of my favorite people: the copy editor.
When I was younger it was a wicked little pleasure to find a typo in a book because they were so rare. Nowdays it's just a nuisance.
Yesterday I found two typos in as many pages in a book on aesthetics. One moment I was reading about values and the next thing I knew we were discussing valves. It was really quite distracting. Rather like being on a train when someone has pulled the emergency brake (well, I'm really guessing on that account because I've never been on a train when that has happened--but it looks like that). The thoughts start falling all over each other as the brain comes crashing to a halt. Valves? Where do valves come into this discussion. Oh, oh, it's a typo. A dratted typographical error. And that was the second one, after a from/form mix-up. Both of which tell me that someone relied on spellcheck.
Which, I suppose, was better than the book I was reading today where the editorial staff couldn't even be bothered to use spellcheck, as evinced by their immensely creative spelling of words such as generally. I don't remember what the other misspelling was and quite frankly, I'm glad--it's all too depressing. Having worked for several years as an editor, I really hate typos and strive to even keep my e-mails free from them. When I comment on someone's blog and then discover that in my haste I left a typo I feel like I should post an apology.
But e-mails and comments are one thing--academic books about fine art (hidden in a plain white cover, amongst the dull books of academia--I knew it had color photos the moment I picked it up: I could feel the weight of the clay-coated glossy paper inside) are quite another. I'm only halfway through Umberto Eco's "History of Beauty" and have already found three typos. Where are the copy editors?! The irony to me is that it seems like spell check would make things easier. I mean they used to set all that type with little metal letters put into trays backwards--shouldn't we have fewer errors now?
So, I have to conclude that copy editors are rapidly going the way of the wooly mammoth. Wave good-bye now because they are going fast--perhaps they're a victim of global warming.
Thank you to Liam for the picture of the old books.