Fact checking is one thing: opinion checking seems much more obviously a publisher’s editor’s duty. Publishers Lunch of 17 January tells us  that “Books & Books in Miami removed the DK Eyewitness Top 10 Miami and the Keys guidebook from their shelves after an employee noticed it referred to part of the Coconut Grove area as ‘the blighted “Black Grove,” an area plagued by high crime rates, drugs and deprivation, where many of the descendants of Bahamian workers have settled.’ Owner Mitchell Kaplan said, ‘We do not want to carry a guide to Miami that so misrepresents one of the communities within Miami.’ DK publishing director of travel Georgina Dee told the Miami Herald, ‘Our text introducing Coconut Grove does not give the full picture and is outdated. We will correct this at the next available opportunity, and we apologize if our content has caused offense.'”

One almost has to assume that this opinion of Coconut Grove was never actually read in DK’s office when the manuscript was going through. This isn’t as unbelievable as you’d like to think. Imagine a situation where the whole book was ready to go to the printer and for some reason some of the copy had to be removed, and a substitute found to keep pagination steady. You really don’t want to get into resizing art and moving pages around at this stage: the author is told to write some words to fill the empty space and do it quick. Bang, bang, and off it goes to the printer, with the error in judgement only exposed when the book hits the bookstores. Obviously I don’t know that that’s what happened — I’m just saying it could happen; in this way or some other which could be imagined.

Poor Georgina Dee tells the Miami Herald that they’ll “correct this at the next available opportunity”, a placeholder explanation. They are no doubt debating whether they have to waste stock and do a new printing right away or whether to wait till a reprint of the book becomes necessary in the normal course of events (which does of course include the possibility of that turning out to be never). The cost of waiting might be less than you’d think: after all, most guidebooks to Miami are probably not bought in Miami, but brought along by tourists in their luggage. Like so many things in publishing the judgement boils down to money.