I recently finished reading Bel Canto, Ann Patchett’s best-selling and award-winning novel about a group of international businessmen and diplomats held hostage for months in an unnamed South American country. There were good and bad things about the story, but I enjoyed it overall. What bugged the crap out of me, however, was the fact the name of one of the principal characters was spelled inconsistently throughout the book. The fictional opera star Roxanne Coss, who sets the book’s action in motion, is spelled with two n’s on the back cover, but alternates between one and two throughout the text, sometimes on the same page. Now, as an editor myself, I know that sometimes, despite our best efforts, mistakes creep into a book: time is short, revisions are numerous, etc. That is what second printings are for. When it goes back on press, we have the opportunity to fix whatever small mistakes slipped past in the first round. I point this out because the copy I read was the second paperback printing of this book, which came out about two years after the initial release. Did no one at HarperCollins pick up on this mistake throughout the numerous hardcover printings and two paper printings? Either the people there are stupid or they’re lazy–either would fit the NewsCorp (parent of HarperCollins) profile.

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