Random House: "Don't be too hard on them"

Posted on by Mike Evans

A reader takes me to task for criticising "the occasional mis-spelling" in Random House ebooks. She was referring specifically to my post on Alexander Kent's book Signal Close Action, one of the author's naval history series. Could I provide some examples of the alleged howlers? I could. But where to start? Bear in mind that these books are concerned with the 18th- and 19th- century British navy, so ships' names are pretty important. Take HMS Buzzard as an example. 

The book seems incapable of getting this right. We have Buszarrd, BtqgardBustard, Bwzzard, and Btzzard to choose from. HMS Lysander fares no better: Lystattder, Lystatider, Ljsander, ILysander, Lystartder, Lyscolder,and Lfsander. But the best version is undoubtedly the 74-gun vacuum cleaner, the Dysander. Other ships featured include HMS Segttra, Segara (Segura). Pbalarope (Phalarope), Ost'ris (Osiris) and Nikator (Nicator).

A piece of naval music is referred to as "The Old East Indiamatt" (Indiaman). A miscreant was "banged for it" (hanged for it). If we take into account some of the little errors (such as T3y [By], Firel [Fire!], hud [had], sirike [strike], bis [his], busgas [huzzas] and bonour [honour]) we gain an overall picture of incompetence. Such errors are not confined to this one book: most of the books in the series have multiple literals, particularly in proper names. I struggled through several before singling out Signal, Close Action for analysis and example.

How could such badly prepared ebooks be published?

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