Monday, September 23, 2019

Fact-checking for non-fiction books, an emerging controversy


No, book publishers don’t have a Section 230 because they are, by tautology, publishers.
But now Alexandra Alter writes for the New York Times, notes factual errors in non-fiction books by high profile authors.  There’s now a debate on who should pay for fact-checking – the author, or the publisher. 
  
I haven’t heard of this being discussed in the POD industry, but I would wonder. (Create Space has stopped doing editorial services, but third party companies have stepped in (Aug 29 post).
  
  
My own DADT series is non-fiction, but it is largely (not completely) built on my own autobiographical narratives.  But in various areas, like gays in the military, COPA, bill of rights, workplace discrimination, I’ve presented a lot of other materials, usually with heavy endnotes for references (but somebody would have to look them up).
  
I did make that one gaffe on the cover of the first printing of my DADT-1 book (1997) that wasn’t caught until the end of 1998, about the age of the Bill of Rights.
  
Wikipedia seems to do its own fact-checking.
  
Also, as a post on my main “BillBoushka” blog today indicates, book publishers have to be concerned with “illegal” content, and not just c.p.  There can be issues with publishing detailed info about certain weapons, even if not formally classified, apparently.  Then, there is “The Turner Diaries” and “Hit Man” as issues of books that might have had real world consequences.  We don’t want the world of “Fahrenheit 451”.
  
You wonder if publishers will worry about new ideas of wokeness, too.

Check also a CNBC article (5 days old) on why physical printed books still outsell e-books (esp. in the UK).  Sometimes fiction that sells well in Kindle does get picked up by trade publishers.  And Amazon now has its own physical bookstores, starting in Seattle. 
  
Picture: the book tower in the Petersen House across the street from Ford’s Theater.  See my "plays" blog for explanation of the significance. 

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