Jonathan Franzen’s UK imprint of his latest novel, Freedom, was sent to the pulper at a rumoured cost of over forty thousand pounds after finding out that the wrong version had been printed. The moment where Franzen realised disaster had struck was caught on camera, as it happened in the middle of recording a reading for Kirsty Wark on BBC2′s The Review Show.
sorry, I’m realizing …. to my horror, that there’s a mistake here that was corrected earlier in the galleys and is still in the fucking hardcover of the book
The Guardian’s ever-hilarious Charlie Brooker speculated this might have been down to opaque document naming on the part of Franzen:
Like anyone who’s ever suffered the traumatic loss of the only copy of a crucial file, whenever I’m writing scripts I tend to end up saving about 1,500 different versions along the way, leading to a directory full of bewildering titles such as FINALSCRIPT2a.DOC and FINALSCRIPT1b-IGNORE-ALL-OTHERS-AND-USE-THIS.DOC and FINALSCRIPT1c-I-AM-SPARTACUS.DOC
This is probably not so far from the truth. The mistake is more likely to have happened within the publisher’s offices or one of their suppliers from typesetter to printer. Of course, what they all need is a simple document management system. These sorts of basic human errors happen all the time and cost businesses and organisations untold millions.
But maybe it’s one thing to convince responsible office staff to use a document management system, quite another to get artists to do it.
Oh, if you don’t get the I Am Spartacus reference, you need to watch the clip from Kubrick’s movie. Charlie Brooker is astonishing. He even manages to slip in a nod to Tony Curtis in the week of his passing.