Skip to main content

Attack of the Amateur Editor

A couple weeks ago I posted a rant on some badly edited ebooks I had bought from Baen, thinking that they were unique examples of how publishers don’t do their jobs. Today I learned that is hilariously wrong.

Philip Howard, a bibliophile living on Ocracoke Island, NC, was recently rereading Tolstoy’s War & Peace when he encountered a rather odd error. Philip had started the 1100 page translation on paper, but about halfway through he had the good luck to get a Nook as a gift.

Given that the paper copy was the size of the phone book for a metropolitan area, Philip was eager to buy a replacement copy of the book. It only cost him a buck, so clearly it was worth it.

But there’s a reason why it cost only a dollar. You see, when the "publisher" uploaded this ebook to the Nook Store they must have done a quick and very dirty conversion of a similar Kindle edition of the title. Here’s what happened, according to Philip:

As I was reading, I came across this sentence: "It was as if a light had been Nookd in a carved and painted lantern…." Thinking this was simply a glitch in the software, I ignored the intrusive word and continued reading. Some pages later I encountered the rogue word again. With my third encounter I decided to retrieve my hard cover book and find the original (well, the translated) text.

For the sentence above I discovered this genuine translation: "It was as if a light had been kindled in a carved and painted lantern…."

In case it’s not clear, what happened here is that someone used a simple find and replace program to remove all references to "kindle" and replace them with the word Nook. This isn’t as nefarious as you might think; there’s a chance that this publisher has an about page in their ebooks which might have mentioned the device it was sold on (Nook, Kindle, and so on). Someone clearly wasn’t thinking things through when they did this.

Philip thinks this is the work of some nameless drone inside B&N, but that seems unlikely. The word "kindle" is not uncommon so if B&N had done this we would have long ago heard about this error. No, it seems more likely that this was a publisher error.

But what an error. According to Ars Technica, this happened a total of 8 times in W&P.

Okay, this isn’t a big deal, but I find it fricking hilarious nonetheless.

image by gabesk

Similar Articles


Ingo Lembcke June 2, 2012 um 8:57 am

How is Barnes & Noble handling this? Swapping the edition, punishing the publisher?

:) June 3, 2012 um 3:48 am

Hahaha, funny indeed!

The Business of Editing: Being Cheap Isn’t Always the Best Choice – The Digital Reader June 11, 2012 um 6:24 am

[…] blogs, demonstrates that cutting corners isn’t always the smartest move. The story, where the Nook version of War and Peace turns the word ‘kindled’ into ‘Nookd’, is an editorial classic.If you recall, a couple of weeks ago I wrote about consistency (see The […]

Write a Comment