Penguin Group Australia had to recall 7,000 copies of the Pasta Bible because of the error, according to news reports, and publishing head Bob Sessions was not pleased. His target was not what one might expect, though.
"We're mortified that this has become an issue of any kind and why anyone would be offended, we don't know," he said, according to The Age newspaper of Melbourne. "We've said to bookstores that if anyone is small-minded enough to complain about this ... silly mistake, we will happily replace [the book] for them."
Has recession eaten into editing budgets?Mr. Sessions is half-right. Trouble is, he may also be hiding something. The error was a silly mistake, and I suspect that it was unintentional and indicates no racism on anyone's part. But before I absolve him, I want to know how much time and money Penguin Australia devotes to editing now, and how much it devoted five, ten and twenty years ago.
The BBC is even more protective of Mr. Sessions than I realized. As of this writing, the photo caption on the site to which I link immediately above reads: Penguin said it was "mortified" over the "silly" mistake in its pasta cook-book. In fact, as Mr. Sessions' statement makes clear, Penguin is mortified not by the mistake, but rather that the mistake has become an issue.
That's a subtle though importance difference, and I trust the BBC will correct its honest but silly mistake.
© Peter Rozovsky 2010