A paragraph you might have missed, from the end of a review of a recent book on Aristotelian teleology, raises indirectly a question that friends and I have wondered about -- whether standards for book production are dropping, and, if so, why.
Although the editorial production of a book is never entirely the author's responsibility, and in some cases mistakes are made that are not the author's fault at all, a significant number of editorial and typographical errata mar the overall presentation of the work and at times prove quite distracting. Throughout the book, sometimes on the same page, and in some instances even in the same line (75), the Greek for one of Aristotle's central teleological phrases—hou heneka—is incorrectly aspirated, wavering back and forth between hou heneka, ou heneka and even ou eneka. There are numerous errors of punctuation, incorrect italicization and inconsistent capitalization of titles, and accentuation of words in Greek. The capitalization and printing of column letters in the citation of Bekker pages randomly alternates between upper case and lower case; sometimes they are written in superscript, sometimes not. On the very first page of the book, the title of Aristotle Metaphysics is inconsistently italicized in the same line (p. 1 n.1). I caught over 50 typographical errors in the first 150 pages of the book, after which I stopped keeping track. Such errata seem unusual for a prestigious university press, and one hopes that this author's first book--worthy of inclusion in any research university's library--can be corrected in subsequent printings.I must admit this baffles me. We’re all familiar with the startling experience of discovering a typo on a page that had been checked carefully in proofs by both author and proofreader. But how could multiple mistakes of this sort go unnoticed and uncorrected?
And the blame is to be shared by press as well as author: inconsistencies in citations and format should have been caught by the copy editor, even if an author might be excused for overlooking them.
Is this book, published by Oxford University Press, an exception, or is it part of a larger trend toward poor workmanship in books? And, if the latter, what could be the cause? One might have thought that modern methods of book production would have made it easier to notice and remove mistakes.