Monday Musings | Mistake Spotting

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Have you ever paused in the middle of reading a sentence and asked yourself, “Wait – is this right?” Occasionally, when reading, I’ll spot something that I think is a print error/mix-up/dropped word and wonder if it was intentional or an oversight. Now I do realize that typos exist and I certainly don’t fault authors/publishers for small mistakes (especially if it’s only a small mistake in a 400 page book), but I do wonder what to do when I see these things. Do I tell anyone? Or do I let it go?

Just to clarify, I don’t mean small mistakes that I read in ARCs (Advanced Reading Copies); since these books are not finished copies I don’t expect them to be error-free or even the final product. I’m talking about typos or mistakes found in finished copies that you can buy in stores.

I have never approached anyone with what I think is a mistake because, first of all, I’m not sure if it’s my place to point out. Yes, typos happen, but I’m sure someone else will have caught it without me bringing it up? Secondly, what if it was intentional or I read something wrong and there was no mistake? I think it would be so embarrassing to point out a “mistake” only to find out it wasn’t a mistake at all. Because of these two reasons, I’ve kept quiet every time I think I’ve spotted a mistake (which, to be fair, isn’t often). Catching what I think are mistakes have never ruined the reading experience for me, but as a perfectionist I feel like I would want to know about the mistake if I were an author.

What do you think? Have you caught any typos or mistakes when reading before? Have you ever told anyone about it? Is it even the readers’ place to bring attention it?

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15 thoughts on “Monday Musings | Mistake Spotting

  1. House of Anansi and Groundwood Books says:

    Speaking as a publisher, we take a lot of pride in presenting books in the most perfect form we can, and manuscripts are painstakingly and carefully checked over and over by many sets of eyes at different stages during the publishing process. That said, we know from experience that one or two little mistakes do escape our notice now and again. Sometimes we do hear from readers who have spotted an error in a book. Sure, it’s a little embarrassing to hear about a dropped apostrophe or a typo, but the feedback is appreciated. We update the design files whenever we find something to correct in the text, and this means that later editions of the book will be just that much better.

    • kmn04books says:

      First of all, thank you so much for your comment! It’s always such a pleasure to hear directly from publishers. It’s good to know that the feedback is appreciated; it seems like me and the majority of those who have commented are worried that it’s not our place to point out mistakes or typos. I will keep that in mind for next time for sure!

  2. Charleen says:

    I feel like I spot mistakes all! the! time!

    It’s probably less than I think, and it’s just that the mistakes are what stand out. I mean, if I finish a book without coming across any, I’m not thinking, “Hey, that book didn’t have any typos in it!” I’m just not thinking of it at all.

    But when I think about how many people whose job it is to catch these things, and how stuff still slips through, I have to figure that I, a regular reader who isn’t actively seeking them out, am probably not seeing every mistake either. So it wouldn’t surprise me if every book out there has at least one. (I’d be disappointed, but not surprised.)

    And to answer your question, no, I’ve never contacted an author or publisher about a mistake. I guess I’m torn between feeling like it’s not my place and feeling like it’s not my job.

    • kmn04books says:

      Haha yeah, that makes sense! I never finish a book and reflect how error-free that was in terms of grammar/typing; I just take it as a given. I’m mostly torn between it being not my place and it being a mistake/misread on my part!

  3. briannereeves says:

    I’m sure there are mistakes in any book. I’ve been tempted, but like Charleen says, it isn’t my job, so I don’t say anything. Aside from not being sure if it’s my place, I wouldn’t want to embarrass or offend anyone by saying something. I’m not sure how the message would be recieved.

    • kmn04books says:

      Yeah, I feel mostly the same way. Although it sounds like from House of Anansi/Groundwood Press’ comment that feedback (when respectful) is appreciated so maybe we don’t have to be so worried?

  4. Nish says:

    I always do and it annoys me so badly. It’s not like I have good grammar or anything like that, but silly mistakes trip me when I am reading smoothly and can totally ruin my reading experience.

  5. Athira says:

    Good question! I don’t do anything myself. I just like to assume that someone else has spotted it and fixed it in time for the next print run. But it would be nice to have a way to point those issues out, just in case nobody saw it.

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