Word imperfect: rapid reprint required

word perfect

Susie Dent’s new book, Word Perfect, is being hastily reprinted after an incorrect version of the text was used by mistake.

Dent helms Dictionary Corner on TV show Countdown. Word Perfect: Etymological Entertainment For Every Day of the Year was published in hardback on 1 October, and later the same day the mix-up became apparent.

Dent apologised to her 575,500-plus Twitter followers after discovering that the initial printing had used a pre-final edit version of the text that contained a number of typos.

She tweeted: “Today I can testify to the effectiveness of ‘lalochezia’: the use of swearing to alleviate stress and frustration.”

Publisher John Murray Press, part of Hachette UK, also tweeted an apology. While the precise source of the mix-up was not clear, the publisher described it as a “printing error”.

“We’re very sorry that, due to a printing error, early copies of Word Perfect are not word perfect. We’re taking urgent steps to recall these copies, reprint and resolve this swiftly.”

Clays in Bungay handles Hachette UK’s monochrome work. Hachette had not commented on the source of the error at the time of writing. 

Dent also replied to a sympathetic tweet from the Chartered Institute of Editing & Proofreading. “In fairness to my publishers and printers, Covid has meant an extraordinary rush on pushing books through. The proof and typesetting errors were corrected but the wrong version printed; it wasn’t within my control but this year everything is out of whack,” she said.

The 416pp book is expected to be a Christmas bestseller for fans of words and wordplay and has received rave reviews from celebrities including Gyles Brandreth, Richard Osman, Jo Brand, and Richard and Judy.

Some fans also speculated that the first edition with typos could become a collectors’ item.