July 13, 2012

Canadian author recalls book with too many typos


Typos, typos everywhere! At least that’s what author Wes Funk probably thought when he learned that an early draft of his latest novel, Cherry Blossoms, had been mistakenly sent to the printer and distributed to bookstores. The book was on shelves for about a week before Funk decided he’d seen enough and told his publisher to pull the book from store shelves.

A CBC report quotes Funk: “A more primitive version of the book was sent, and in the end, a more primitive version of the book was printed. So, we have some work to do.”

It’s the rare occasion that a publisher recalls a book. One recent example is Jonathan Franzen’s latest novel, Freedom, which in 2010 saw more than 8,000 copies sold in the U.K. after typesetters used an early draft of the manuscript that contained misspellings and mistakes in grammar and characterization. Freedom’s publisher, HarperCollins, did not fully recall all of the 80,000 books printed, an effort which would have cost them, according to a Guardian report, £70,000. Rather, the publisher encouraged consumers to exchange their previously purchased copies for updated copies. However, the book printed with errors will likely become a collector’s item, and once readers understand that the errors are acknowledged, I’d wager few were unwilling to overlook the mistakes in light of the book’s potential future value.

In the CBC report about Funk’s book, his publisher is only described as being “Regina-based.” No name, or hint of which printing company was used, is ever given; nor is an estimate of the recall’s size. Funk’s author website does not list his publisher, either. Assuming the print run on Cherry Blossoms was small, and that its publisher is not a major house, it’s hard to imagine pulling the books. Recalling, reprinting, and exchanging books makes little sense financially, especially for small presses, whose funds are often barely enough to get through production.

Describing his thinking behind the recall, Funk states:

“The storyline is exactly the same,” Funk said, adding that most of the problems were in the presentation, such as misplaced commas and words.

“Nothing too crazy, but just enough that it ruins the flow of the story,” he said.

Funk added that his book had been selling very well in Saskatoon until it was taken off the shelves.

He said it was a difficult decision to pull the book and that has also led to a lot of extra work for him and his Regina-based publisher.

“We have been communicating with book stores and libraries all across Canada, getting it pulled,” he said. “In the end I feel its going to be worth it.”

Curious just who this magnanimous publisher might be, I searched Amazon.ca, which lists Cherry Blossom’s publisher as Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing, a small press specializing in …

… editing skills, computer/software knowledge and an eye for detail. Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing provides professional publishing services to assist writers and artists in bringing their works to print, specializing in low-volume print runs.

Operating out of Regina, Saskatchewan, services are provided at an approximate cost of $40/hour, depending on the project.

Ah, that makes sense. It was a simple self-publishing snafu. Still though, it’s unclear who sends the file to the printer in this type of arrangement (my guess is the author client), which means that if publishing services like these are part of the future, we should all order a copy of Cherry Blossoms right now and help keep the dream alive. After all, without those additional sales, who or what pays for the recall?


Kevin Murphy is the digital media marketing manager of Melville House.