I have a couple of questions that you may or may not know the answer to.
When books are sent out to different retailers.. or perhaps even before then, are there any sort of Quality Assurance procedures that are done to the novel?
I’m merely asking because a couple of days ago, I got an unhappy surprise when I purchased an omnibus edition of an authors book only to find that 6 chapters within the 2nd book were missing. It was a pretty nice chunk of the story (about 34 pages I believe).. but to make things even jazzier, they had inserted previously printed chapters where the missing chapters belonged. Before sending a foamy email to the publisher, I went back to name of retailer redacted and asked to look at whatever copies they had left to see if it was just my copy or if every copy was the same. Every single copy I looked at ( 5+), they all had the exact same issue. I also told name of retailer redacted they might want to temporarily shelf the book til they get better copies.. but when I last checked, they still have it up and available apparently.
I’ve run across typos and misnumbered pages before, but this seems to be an entirely different level of “oops.” I also emailed the author and let them know what was going on.. and to their credit, they responded promptly.
It wasn’t an error that would be visible had you been briefly scanning the book. It was deep into the 2nd book that you ran into this. The author replied that it was a manufacturing error and that I can believe.. but I guess I’m a little puzzled. Do you know if there are any steps to prevent things like this from happening? I mean I’ve been reading for 25+ years and have never seen an error of this magnitude occur in any book I’ve ever read.
This is most likely a printer error. Something happened in the printing process and things went awry. Let’s say you have a print run of 50,000 books. The printer will print them in chunks and spot-check each chunk, but if the error isn’t glaringly obvious, they may not notice it. Minor typographic errors are common – we have a pi symbol in one of our books that’s just randomly there. That’s not grounds for a recall, but something as major as misprinted chapters is definitely cause to have the affected copies pulled off the shelf.
I’ve asked our editor, Anne Sowards, for more information and here is what she said.
Books are printed in batches, and errors can occur in one that don’t occur in another (missing signatures, or a repeated signature, or even a signature from a different book getting bound in).
I’ll see if I can find out more about this, but off the top of my head, I think they do a quality spot check at the printer. Obviously they can’t check every single copy of a print run (which can be thousands and thousands of copies), so defective books sometimes make it out to the stores anyway. I always hate it when this happens! Generally, if a printing error occurs, it’s isolated to a couple hundred copies. But that’s small comfort to whichever reader ended up getting one of the defective books.
Readers should be able to exchange a defective copy of the book at the store where they bought it–has the reader with the omnibus that’s missing pages tried this?
Since it’s not one of our books, I can’t speak to the other publisher’s return policy. But from my end, if this ever happens with one of your Ace books and the reader is unable to return the defective copy to the store where they bought it for some reason, they can send me the messed up copy and we’ll send them a replacement.
My suggestion would be that if the store is unable to replace the copy, try to contact the author directly and ask if you can exchange the book through the publisher. The store should have pulled the damaged copies from the shelves. Unfortunately, the retailer in question is a large chain and each individual store is only as good as its management and staff. Some of these stores are outstanding, some less so. Perhaps that decision had to be made at a manager level and the manager is unaware that the books are damaged.
If you’re ever in a situation of this sort with one of our books, let me know, and Gordon or I will make sure you’ll get a replacement. If the error occurs in the e-copy and is significant, please let me know and I will bring it to the attention of the publisher.