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#1 Phil Green

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Posted 14 January 2012 - 12:24 PM

Now don't get me wrong, I like Stewarts books - I have 6 with another one on the way.

But one feature they all have in common - they are littered with annoying, stupid little errors.
This is mostly missing or additional words, but some are more serious.

It just seems to me, that Stewart is rushing these books out, without paying proper attention to proof reading (and sometimes spell check).

I've just started to read one of his latest 'Sarraceniacae of South America'. I've not even read a 10th of the book and have already found several mistakes.
Two of particular note -

H. arenicola, Page 133, middle paragraph - it states that H. arenicola forms putrative hybrids with ionasi.
Or perhaps I'm wrong and these hybrids are particularly smelly :lol: :lol:

However, at the bottom of page 470 he makes an unforgivable mistake !!
Talking about hybrids, he says that they are listed alphabetically and not following "the usual scheme pollen donor x pollen acceptor" father x mother ?? :shock:
I'm sure just about everyone on this forum knows hybrids should actually be recorded as 'Mother x Father'. This strikes me as an error due to trying to use fancy wording.

Like I say, these are just the most serious two (of several) I've found just dipping into the book. I dread to think how many more I'll find by the time I'm finished.

As I say, I do like the books and think they are great - but they could be much better.

So come on Stew, less speed of production and a LOT more proof reading first, to find these stupid errors before publication.

PS. Your darn right I spell checked this post first :laugh2:

#2 linuxman

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Posted 14 January 2012 - 13:30 PM

Phil, I'm afraid the North America volume also suffers from the same problem. Most of the errors are typographical and the true intention can easily be deduced, but they are annoying. Apart from that it's well worth reading.

#3 johns

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Posted 14 January 2012 - 13:54 PM

This has annoyed me a bit as well, reading Volume Two of Carnivorous Plants and their Habitats. The book is good, but there are grammatical mistakes, spelling errors and oddly phrased sentences that should have been corrected before print.

Edited by johns, 14 January 2012 - 13:55 PM.

#4 Alexis

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Posted 14 January 2012 - 17:31 PM

Blimey. I noticed a few errors but I couldn't care less. The books are too superb to let anything so minor detract from the cracking read and amazing photos.

#5 ada

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Posted 14 January 2012 - 18:16 PM

I think Stewart and Don have done a great job with the new book about sarracenia.They also do great conservation work all around the world.
I'm still not hooked on the idea of everything gets its own vareity status,i think a lot is just natural variation within a species.

The thing that annoyed me,reading this book is unnecessary repetition at the end of each section on a particular plant.
i.e the ark of life bit,UK NCCPG scheme and its not known if this form persists in the wild,they need to be monitered ect.

We all know they are at risk and need to be looked after,but once would have done.
Moan over, its a great book,excellent pictures and i would still buy it.

#6 Dunc

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 12:27 PM

Whilst fully agree these are great books :flag_of_truce::sarcastic_hand: I also agree with the first post that the proof reading is not 100%.

Perhaps even more controversially, I'd add that I also think the books are over priced w.r.t. print quality, content, format, etc. compared to the market :rainingsmile: (waiting for the ....). I'd be happy to stand corrected IF the full costs to produce the books were given here :knuddel:

If you don't mind the price and don't want the books signed note that Amazon sell them with free delivery whereas Redfern Natural History charge £5.99 (there are also small discounts on some of the books at Amazon). It would be nice, given that CPUK must be one of the best outlets for the books, if Redfern Natural History could offer a suitable discount :clapping:

Edited by Dunc, 22 January 2012 - 12:28 PM.

#7 Elliot

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 13:39 PM

Whilst fully agree these are great books :flag_of_truce::sarcastic_hand: I also agree with the first post that the proof reading is not 100%.

Perhaps even more controversially, I'd add that I also think the books are over priced w.r.t. print quality, content, format, etc. compared to the market :rainingsmile: (waiting for the ....). I'd be happy to stand corrected IF the full costs to produce the books were given here :knuddel:

If you don't mind the price and don't want the books signed note that Amazon sell them with free delivery whereas Redfern Natural History charge £5.99 (there are also small discounts on some of the books at Amazon). It would be nice, given that CPUK must be one of the best outlets for the books, if Redfern Natural History could offer a suitable discount :clapping:

Actually, my book from Amazon came signed!


#8 LeeBr

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 01:27 AM

I don't know if the books are overpriced; they are worth what people are willing to pay for them.
I found the earlier books had more errors than the more recent ones, and factually they are getting better as they go along.
I agree however that they should have been better proof read.

The main things that worried me were: 1) that the description of the flower dimensions for H. ceracea in the body of the text differs from that in the official taxonomic description in the back of the book; hopefully the official description is accurate.
2) On all the maps Maringma tepui is misplaced; it should be on the Brazil/Guyana border east of Mt. Roraima, not on the Venezuela/Brazil border south of Mt. Roraima.
3)Cerro Venamo is shown as a large area north west of where the Guyana/Venezuela border changes direction; whereas the border changes direction at the high point of Cerro Venamo, which was used as a marker in drawing up the border just as Mt. Roraima was; Cerro Venamo continues over the Guyana border where it is known as Waukauyengtipu and where Heliamphora have been photographed.

However even allowing for these and other mistakes the books comprise a huge amount of new information and when you consider how many of these that McPherson has published the additions to the field of study of carnivorous plants is remarkable.

I hope he continues to publish such books; I await his new Nepenthes book eagerly.
Perhaps he could get a proofreader and we can all be happy.


#9 Andreas Fleischmann

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 16:12 PM


While I cannot deny the fact that this book contains a certain amount of typographical errors and little mistakes, which unfortunately did not get erased by the proof reader (who did cause a lot of other problems in the final stage of this book project!), I can at least address to some of the critics raised here:

Phil, we are talking about naturally occuring Heliamphora hybrids here. And although the plants can easily be recognized as hybrids, and also the parent species are usually easy to identify, it is impossible to find out the exact parentage of the naturally occuring hybrids. That's why we decided to arrange the putative (;)) parent species in alphabetical order. And of course we have to state that we did so, so that nobody erronously assumed that eg. a H. purpurascens x sarracenioides is exactyl the hybrid arising form the cross of H. sarracenioides pollen on a H. purpurascens flower - it could have been the other way round as well.
But you are right of course: for the documentation of artificially created hybrids, the pollen acceptor (mother) is always named first, followed by the pollen donor (father).

LeeBr, thanks for your critical comments, maybe I can comment on them:

1) Me too, I noticed that the dimensions for the H. ceracea flower parts unfortunately got wrong in the body part of the book. The sizes given in the description are correct, and directly taken from the holotype specimen. These are the dimensions you should refer to, please ignore those in the text body.

2) You are most likely mixing up Mount Maringma and Mount Yakontipu here, don't you?

3) The Cerro Venamo story indeed is a complicated one. But I have spoken with Dr. Otto Huber from Caracas about this issue in detail (he has been working on the geography and vegetation of the tepuis for many decades, and also has joined most of the Venezuelan Terramar expeditions in the 1980ies, who did take geographical measurments and set landmarks), because the mountain drawn in maps as "Cerro Venamo" does not host any Heliamphora specimens. However there are collections from Cerro Venamo made by Steyermark in the 1980ies. The reason for this: the border mark drawn in the maps as "Cerro Venamo" is not Steyermark's original Cerro Venamo, but one out of several little unnamed tall tepui-like mountains. Steyermark went to a different place, a large elevated area -labout the range drawn in the centre-fold map in our book, and found (some strange) specimens of Heliamphora heterodoxa there. Later, for marking the Venezuela-Guiana border, the Venezuelan government randomly chose a conspicuous landmark, namely that mountain you are referring to, and named it "Cerro Venamo". Several expeditions went to that "new" Venamo recently, but did not find Heliamphora there.

All the best,


#10 Alexis

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 16:57 PM

Overpriced? They're the bargain of the century! Have you seen the thickness and weight of them?

#11 stewart

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 20:40 PM

Hi Phil Green,

Thank you for your post and feedback.

I do understand your comments, but writing and editing large works is not as simple a task as you seem to appreciate.

There may well be a spelling mistake on page 133 and also on page 470, but remember, this is out of 250,000 words and over 1,400 pages (in the case of Sarraceniaceae of North America and Sarraceniaceae of South America).

I do employ an editor full time, and send each book for proofing by at least two professional proof readers at a cost of thousands and thousands of pounds per book so that each manuscript is read by several people before going to press. I also personally read through each manuscript at least 3 times. But nevertheless, a typo or other minor mistake does sneak through, as you have publicly pointed out, for example, "putrative".

Please try editing through 1,400 pages to produce a flawless result. It is not easy, and mistakes such as a single "r" in a word, will, I suspect, slip pass even your eyes. Especially after reading so many pages three times.

Ultimately, I cannot excuse typos and mistakes, and freely admit there are a few in all of the books I have written. But I do reject your quite hurtful claim that the books are "littered" with mistakes. This is not the case. There are 300 pages between the errors you identified on page 133 and page 470, representing perhaps 30,000 words. This is the length of a regular-size book.

I certainly cannot excuse an extra "r" in putrative, or other minor issues. But I am only human, and so are all editors and proof readers (as far as I know). The issues which you identified are all certainly very minor, and do not detract from the concept of the titles, which focus on documenting the diversity, ecology and conservation of carnivorous plants.

With regards to "rushing". The Sarraceniaceae books took a decade of research on my part, and 40 years on Donald Schnell's part, and an entire year of continuous writing by myself. I delayed publication several times for editing. The reality is though, the economics of printing such a book raises sufficient funds to employ editors for a finite time. I wish it were different, but these titles are very specialised, and unfortunately do not have Harry Potter budgets to employ large teams of editors.

You should also remember that, in the case of the Sarraceniaceae books, these involved authors of several countries, speaking multiple languages and dialects (German, UK English and American English), and with many different writing styles.

At the end of the day, you are right, and I am wrong. There is the odd spelling mistake in my books. But I have spent thousands and thousands of hours on each title to produce each one to the highest standard I possibly can.

Stewart McPherson
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#12 LeeBr

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 20:43 PM

Thanks for the clarifications Andreas.
However regarding Mt Maringma I am talking about the Mountain to the east of Mt Roraima and also to the east of Yakontipu.

The Heliamphora collections here:


are noted as being from Mt Maringma and from Guyana.

There have been several expeditions to the Mt. Maringma on the Brazil/Guyana border recently and they have mentioned finding Heliamphora.
The french Wikipedia article on Maringma has a map showing it's location.

Perhaps there is more than one mountain in the area called Mt. Maringma which would be confusing.

Also Heliamphora have been photogrpahed on the Guyanan side of the border at Waukauyengtipu and the alternative name of Cerro Venamo is given for this location.
Again this is confusing.



#13 LeeBr

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 20:49 PM

Here is a link to the Maringma tepui I was talking about


It is on the Brazil/Guyana border.



#14 Alexis

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 21:58 PM

Thanks for the post Stewart.

#15 Martin Hingst

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 23:09 PM

Well, following my own posting rules, this is for sure one of those threads you should never answer to as an uninvolved person… but yes, it is past 12 pm, and yes, I had some alcohol :wink:

Phil, besides the fact that I wonder what your definition of littering with annoying, stupid errors is -
what is your point of making such a thread here?

Wouldn't it make more sense to collect those mistakes that annoy you, and write Stew a personal mail for a correction of a second edition?
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#16 LeeBr

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 05:37 AM

Sorry, my first link didn't work for some reason.
It was to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History website.
The specimen search and maps section returns two specimens if you query Heliamphora and Guyana;
one is specimen No. USNM 3426064 from Waukauyengtipu, the other is specimen No. USNM 3493226 from the summit of Mt. Maringma.
The maps show both were collected in Guyana from Cuyuni-Mazaruni.

They are both listed as H. nutans but based on the distributions in the Sarraceniaceae of South America book I would expect the specimen from Waukauyengtipu to be H. heterodoxa while that from Mt. Marinmga could be either H. nutans or H. glabra.


#17 Phil Green

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 12:48 PM

Firstly let me re-state the first and last thing I originally said, that despite all the mistakes, I do like the books and consider them to be of good quality.

I do not think they are over priced. I appreciate that a lot of time and expense goes into all the journeys required to study these plants in the first place, as well as the production costs. Also, unlike many publications, this money goes to a good cause - helping the plants that we all love and grow :clapping: And I would still recommend them to people.

However, as I stated, they ARE littered with minor errors, which detract from the quality. Those two I mentioned are NOT the only ones, just 2 which I chose to highlight from a very small read - one amusing, one factually incorrect (and yes, I do understand the reason for listing them alphabetically, that was not what I was highlighting). If you would like me to highlight ALL of these errors, I can do so - but I find ones every few pages and most of the species I have read so far have one, so without having counted or read much of the book, I wouldn't be surprised if it's over 100.

Stewart, I do understand the issues and amount of work that goes into these productions and am not trying to belittle your hard work. I am also only too aware, that you can't properly proof read your own work, no matter how hard you try. I find that I tend to read what I had intended to write, rather than what is actually written - but I am very good at finding the errors in other peoples writing (although not always spelling, which I am terrible at!). At work I regularly find errors everyone else has missed, even with a very quick read. So, yes I do understand why extra/wrong/missing words are there (missed by proof reading), but spelling mistakes I can't, as these should have been picked up by a basic spell check.

Now my comments do not apply to just this one book, unfortunately I have found this to be a common problem in all Stewarts books which I have.

To say the errors can be corrected in reprints, slightly misses the point. The only reason for a reprint is because all the really dedicated and interested growers have already bought all the first print. It is only because of these people, that there would be a 2nd print, but it will be these very people that have the copies with all the errors!

Surely any book however good, should be able to withstand HONEST feedback and comments about any flaws it may have.

However, regardless of peoples opinions and however much hard work has gone into these publication. The fact remains that they DO have a (in my opinion) large number of silly little errors - which for me, spoil (to a slight extent) the read.

These books are GOOD, but they could and should be better.

Perhaps different proof readers should be employed, because those that did these books clearly didn't do a good enough job. Although, I obviously have no idea how many errors they did spot. But it does make me wonder, with the amount that remains, just how many were in the original text :shock:

My only reason for making this thread, was to raise the issue of these errors and that hopefully this will raise the standard even higher of future works. After all, if people only ever sing the praises of something, then nobody knows there is a problem. But once somebody sticks their head up and raises an issue, then others tend to add that they are also unhappy about it, or something else. A 'yes man' never helped anybody.

So, to those that think Stewarts work shouldn't be criticised in any way - tough. But I suspect Stewart doesn't mind well intentioned, honest feedback.

To Stewart - do keep up the good work (but perhaps look for better proof readers) as well as your expeditions to explore even more areas. Also, as I've raised the issue, I'd be more than happy to assist with the proof reading of future works if you're interested (but I won't be offended if your not) - I'm not a professional, but I am good at finding certain types of errors for some reason.

Yes there are errors, but they are still a bloody good read and well worth the money. :thumbsup:

Edited by Phil Green, 24 January 2012 - 14:01 PM.

#18 LeeBr

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Posted 25 January 2012 - 04:26 AM

Actually on page 224 of the Sarraceniaceae of South America it notes that Maringma tepui is the correct name for the type locality of Drosera solaris; and as the original description of D. solaris notes this is on the Brazil-Guyana border,and therefore east of Mt. Roraima; not on the Brazil-Venezuela border which is south-east of Roraima.
So it is either misplaced on the maps or if it is from a tepui south-east of Roraima then this tepui is neither Yakon-tepui nor Mt. Maringma but some other tepui.


#19 Jimfan

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Posted 20 June 2012 - 01:32 AM

As a relative newcomer, I have been bingeing on CP books, and McPherson's are some of the best, esp. for field reports, though I like the D'amato/Slack style ones for cultivation info. But they're really different styles of books so that's a moot point.

But I agree that the proofreading was really bad in the Sarracenia books... the latest ICPN review by Dr Rice is what brought me searching for this topic.

Oddly, in Pitcher Plants of the Old World it is perfect, and as good (from what I've read) in the New Nepenthes, especially given how complicated some of the concepts are (for me anyway)... it might be nerdy of me, but the arguments in the scientific papers (e.g. Robinson on the splitting of N. lamii or the commensal spider paper by Rembold) were like science-detective-come-botanist artwork... crystal clear writing and an exciting logic flow that really made me feel enthusiastic.

But... while the information in the Sarr books is great, the errors are all over the place rather than occasional, despite what McPherson claims in his above post (as a reader, to me errors include grammar, repetition, stilted English, not just typos, and they are all over rather than hundreds of pages in between), often basic (and thus careless) and the writing was not as flowing in other books... I don't have the books to hand but surely the different titles must have had different editors or review processes.

It looks to me like slowing down (slightly even) and keeping the same editorial review process (as for the pitcher plant book) for the best quality books where possible would seal Redfern as a premium publisher. The company seems new, so in my mind i think they're doing really well all considered, and prices are actually really good for a "boutique" independent publisher.

That said, the issues with the Sarracenia books are a permanent stain which the publisher should not have allowed and could easily avoid. I worked in children's publishing for a spell and have seen this before... a solid review process is critical and the balance hard to establish for a new publisher... if you can't get your reviewers and editors of choice, wait, or be very picky about and research your alternative till you're blue in the face. If its a money-timeframe worry, still wait as your choice will affect your long term reputation. Your editors should be the last people to touch any work... a perfect book is forever, but unfortunately so is a poorly finished one.

To the price campaigners, I think these books are still amazing for what you get... Amazon has clout to sell and freepost books for less... no one can challenge the power of megastores, and certainly not small publishers. In fact, assuming nothing has changed, Amazon will sell Redfern books with a considerably reduced return for Redfern. So while they seem like a bargain, if you can order direct it'd probably ensure more books to come.

Night night,

Edited by Jimfan, 20 June 2012 - 01:35 AM.

#20 Guest_GazCez_*

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Posted 20 June 2012 - 13:05 PM

Anyone thought that maybe the books will be worth more with the errors? Bear in mind that books that concern carnivorous plants are relatively few and far between. Let's see what happens when some of Stewart's books go out of print. You will all be biting the bullet then. Look at Carnivorous Plants of Australia - Vol. 1&2 and how their prices reflect their rarity.

Alright, so errors concerning the actual plants themselves could prove tricky and for the obsessive collector might prove to be annoying. But quite frankly I welcome all new carnivorous plant books, typo errors or not, as quite frankly you would all be moaning if there were none available.

Just as an afterthought - does anyone know how difficult it is writing a book to academic standard? It is very difficult indeed and having been assessed my (supposed) peers at undergraduate and post graduate level it can be rather annoying. I remember one professor counting every word in one of my essays and slashing my grade irrespective of the actual content. It's all coming back now, grrrr.....

Stewart - ignore those picky devils and carry on writing. Shame on all of you for being so critical, give the guy a break and get a life ha, ha!