I’ve just finished two books that have me thinking hard about the world. Both were non-fiction. The first was The Great Typo Hunt, in which two friends travel the United States correcting typos.
The second was Cop in the Hood. Written by a sociologist who worked as a Baltimore City Police officer, Cop in the Hood is a heavy meal of well-researched stats and personal experience relating to being a cop and specifically to the war on drugs.
There’s much more to say about Cop in the Hood, but perhaps because I read The Great Typo Hunt immediately beforehand, I got to wondering about the quality of copyediting today. Leaving aside online writing, I would argue that books today are less well edited. Cop in the Hood featured five or six glaring typos in its 200 page length. I don’t think these were the author’s errors. Moskos wrote clearly, and in large part the typos were what The Great Typo Hunt called true typos: errors made while typing. (For instance, typing the word “is” when you wanted to type the word “in.”)
If I were Princeton Press, publisher of Cop in the Hood, I’d be embarrassed. In contrast, I also recently read a 1934 copy of Seven Gothic Tales. I did not notice a typo until 300 pages into the book.
So, my readers are generally very well read. Do you all notice a difference in quality of copyediting these days? Has our collective skill truly diminished? Is it just certain books, or certain publishing houses?