eBooks Don’t Get Pulped

March 17, 2009

Thanks to @bookoven on Twitter for pointing this out to me:

Philosopher’s book pulped after objection by Christopher Hitchens

An objection from Christopher Hitchens has forced Penguin to pulp a forthcoming book by philosopher John Gray.

Hitchens was concerned about a line in the introduction to Gray’s new essay collection that suggested that after he briefly experienced the torture technique of waterboarding, in which water is poured repeatedly over a prisoner’s face, he defended the practice as part of the global struggle against Islamic fundamentalism. After learning of his objections, Penguin admitted that the line was a mistake and that Hitchens has been consistently opposed to torture.

Emphasis added by me.

They were correct to pulp the run. I saw Hitchens undergo that torture on video and read his article about it. How such a contrary conclusion could be drawn from those is baffling.

Yet the point is this: Had we been living in a world where books are primarily electronic — with print souvenirs following later — there would have been no need to delete an entire book to make a single correction.