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Old 11-28-2011, 12:42 PM   #1
HarryT
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The importance of proofing against printed texts

My experiences in proof-reading Edgar Rice Burroughs's "A Princess of Mars" provide a good illustration of the importance of proofing against a printed text (or, at least, a decent scanned PDF of a printed edition). Although the Project Gutenberg text of this book is, from a nominal reading, in very good shape, I've so far come across two instances where words are missing from the book; in both cases it appears that a complete line has been omitted. Neither case could have been detected simply by reading the eBook, since it just so happens that the sentences concerned make sense without the text that's missing.

So, the moral of the story is to ALWAYS proof against printed editions!

What I generally do myself, if I can't find a scan at Google Books or archive.org, is to buy the cheapest 2nd-hand edition I can on eBay or Amazon, proof-read against it, and then re-sell it.
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Old 11-28-2011, 02:21 PM   #2
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I, for one, appreciate all the effort you put into your editions HarryT. Isn't it a sad commentary that we have to buy printed (dead-tree) books to correct e-editions?
--MH
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Old 11-28-2011, 02:45 PM   #3
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Not really, no. PG texts are, after all, created from printed books. What, other than a printed book, could they be proof-read against?
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Old 12-06-2011, 04:28 AM   #4
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I like making an HTML two-column table and putting page scans in the left column and the OCR text in the right. Then I can import it into LibreOffice and proofread it there. I'm in the process of describing how I do it over in this thread.
Are there any proof-reading solutions that does something similar?
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Old 12-09-2011, 06:43 AM   #5
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Uh.. so what?

Printed books occasionally miss lines, too.

I recently came across a book where I had two different editions, one I knew was abridged. And guess what: In the supposedly original edition I also found two places where single lines were missing!

So I guess it's obvious what happened here: The book was scanned from an edition where some printing error happened.
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Old 12-09-2011, 06:57 AM   #6
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Uh.. so what?
So, some people like to have the complete text. If you don't, that's fine and dandy, but I do.
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Old 12-15-2011, 03:19 PM   #7
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There's no guarantee that any printed version you get is complete as well. Mistakes happen. If you get 3 versions of a text you most likely will get 3 different sets of accidental omissions.

You draw the completely wrong conclusion from this because you only can guarantee that you proofed against the one version of the text you have but how do you know that this version is complete?
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Old 12-16-2011, 03:39 AM   #8
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You draw the completely wrong conclusion from this because you only can guarantee that you proofed against the one version of the text you have but how do you know that this version is complete?
I don't, of course, but a commercially published book is unlikely to have the issue with missing text that plagued the early "Project Gutenberg" texts that were typed in by hand, where the transcriber would not infrequently skip over sentences, paragraphs, or even complete pages.

For example, when I was proofing my eBook edition of Charles Dickens's "The Old Curiosity Shop" I found two places in the book where a complete double page of text had been omitted. Nearly all the free or low-cost eBook editions you'll find of "The Old Curiosity Shop" have this error in them.
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Old 12-16-2011, 10:24 AM   #9
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Besides, corrections should always be applied with a minimum of critical thought. If I see a difference between a printed book and an electronic text, I'll choose whatever looks more likely to be correct. It will often be the printed book, but not necessarily always.
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Old 12-16-2011, 10:46 AM   #10
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Besides, corrections should always be applied with a minimum of critical thought. If I see a difference between a printed book and an electronic text, I'll choose whatever looks more likely to be correct. It will often be the printed book, but not necessarily always.
Absolutely. One should never apply corrections blindly.
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Old 12-17-2011, 09:11 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
My experiences in proof-reading Edgar Rice Burroughs's "A Princess of Mars" provide a good illustration of the importance of proofing against a printed text (or, at least, a decent scanned PDF of a printed edition). Although the Project Gutenberg text of this book is, from a nominal reading, in very good shape, I've so far come across two instances where words are missing from the book; in both cases it appears that a complete line has been omitted. Neither case could have been detected simply by reading the eBook, since it just so happens that the sentences concerned make sense without the text that's missing.

So, the moral of the story is to ALWAYS proof against printed editions!

What I generally do myself, if I can't find a scan at Google Books or archive.org, is to buy the cheapest 2nd-hand edition I can on eBay or Amazon, proof-read against it, and then re-sell it.
Did you submit an errata to PG? I looked through the archives of 'other files' at PG and ... wow, that was an early one! I didn't know we had computers back then. I see nothing on DP so the transcription presumably didn't come from them.
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Old 12-17-2011, 03:53 PM   #12
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The first Project Gutenberg book was produced in 1971. It was hand typed in.
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Old 12-17-2011, 10:53 PM   #13
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For example, when I was proofing my eBook edition of Charles Dickens's "The Old Curiosity Shop" I found two places in the book where a complete double page of text had been omitted. Nearly all the free or low-cost eBook editions you'll find of "The Old Curiosity Shop" have this error in them.
I recently got a copy of "The Uncommercial Traveller" that has every single page folded at the top--they weren't cropped properly, and it's effectively unreadable. I know that some printings will have one or two pages that fail to be cropped, and those will stick together in scanners. (Well. Those would stick together in scanners eight to twelve years ago. Today's scanners tend to be more sensitive.)

The Gutenberg edition of "Fanny Hill" is packed with typos. A lot of the earlier books got barely any proofreading; while the recent ones tend to be great, the earlier ones--which means, any very popular classic--are all questionable & should be checked against hard copy. They can be checked against image scans, which will cover everything except pages that weren't scanned, or were missing in the original.
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Old 12-18-2011, 04:03 AM   #14
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Yes, unfortunately it's the extremely popular classics that tend to have the most errors at PG, since they were manually typed in, not scanned. That was the prime motivation for my on-going "complete works of Dickens" project here at MR: the fact that most Dickens at PG is in very poor shape.
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Old 12-20-2011, 02:56 PM   #15
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Absolutely. One should never apply corrections blindly.
And that is the problem I am having with a book I am proofreading. There is one word that have lost the first three letters. And the remaining four doesn't help. sigh.
And the book is out of print, and not even the royal library has it. Right now, I am tempted to leave the typo.
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