Proofreading in the twenty-first century

May 2, 2010

Holy somethingApparently romance novelist Nora Roberts has entered the hospitality business. Tammy La Gorce reports, for The New York Times:

Until about a year ago the stereotypical Civil War buff — male, middle-aged, History channel addicted — might have had trouble selling his less-than-enthusiastic wife on a weekend getaway to this small town in western Maryland, best known for its proximity to Antietam National Battlefield, site of the bloodiest one-day battle in the Civil War, in 1862, with close to 23,000 casualties.

But the best-selling romance novelist Nora Roberts may have helped make those husbands’ selling job a lot easier. On Valentine’s Day of last year she opened Inn BoonsBoro, a 1790s-era, eight-room boutique hotel meant to cater to women’s romantic sides.

Rooms are named for famous literary couples, including Marguerite and Percy of “The Scarlet Pimpernel” and Jane and Rochester from “Jane Eyre.” Each suite has its own signature scent. One of the imaginative package deals, called “Girl Trip,” includes certificates for facials at nearby South Mountain Day Spa. Ms. Roberts spent $3 million renovating the three-story inn.

“When we started, I said, ‘I want every room to be unique and beautiful,'” Ms. Roberts, 59, said. “But I also wanted a woman to come here and be comfortable spending time just hanging around. It should be welcoming — a place where she could put her feet up and not be afraid to touch things.” Despite the inn’s romantic, luxurious ambience, Ms. Roberts said her intent was not to detract from the town’s place in America’s history but to complement it. “What people should do when they come is relax and sample Boonsboro and all its history, especially Antietam,” she said. “You can’t walk through there without it grabbing your heart.”

There may be no better time to do so than in May.

In truth, the Nora Roberts angle is just a boon. (Who doesn’t enjoy promoting bourgeois romantic tourism?) Rather, I was drawn to the article when I noticed a typographical error in my NYT RSS feed. Surely enough, it’s right there, in the caption below the picture:

The state of proofreading in the twenty-first century

I know. It’s petty. But one thing I can honestly say is that my affection toward words actually printed on paper holds steady as electronic publications effectively but falsely assert time and again that the only good proofreader is apparently a computer.

And, yes, I know, it infects printed books, too. But just let me have my petty thrill. Reality suffers when we rely too greatly on electronica. No red line? No green line? Must be okay, then. Right? Right? No need to actually read what you’re proofreading; it’s the twenty-first century for Dog’s sakes!


(Can anyone promise perfection? No, but we’ll certainly try. The Southern California Writers’ Conference includes many fine proofreaders and editors among its talented contributors. Don’t miss the Eighth Annual Los Angeles Conference slated for Newport Beach, September 24-26, 2010. And now is a great time to save $75 on your conference registration by signing up before June 1! So come on out and meet some really great people who are also really good at what they do. They’re merciless, though, and will actually tell you when you’re spelling words wrongly.)


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