Books have gone from bad to wurst
There was a time in living memory (mine, anyway—maybe not yours) when it was unusual to find more than a couple of errors in a book of several hundred pages. Publishers took pride in putting out good books because they thought this built brand loyalty for their imprint.
But publishing, like other traditional craft-based manufacturing industries, was taken over by vulture capitalists, who replaced the old managers with cost-cutting MBAs.
Nowadays, publishers—even those with a well-polished reputation for producing high-quality books—are not in the literature business; they’re in the sausage business. They buy carcasses, pay meatcutters and wurstmakers, and crank out the sausage, hoping that the customers will buy based on the packaging and reputation for quality (but not take too close a look at the ingredients list) and then cook and eat the sausage without dissecting the raw product to look for peculiar bits.
Mostly, there isn’t much you and I can do about this, other than producing books outside the mainstream publishing industry and building up an appreciation for high-quality books.
There is one category where individuals can make a difference, though. If you teach a course—especially at the college level—and you are unhappy with the quality of the course textbook, say something.
Complaining to a publisher that their wurstmakers fell down on the job isn’t going to change the publisher’s process or business model; it will just lead to hiring different wurstmakers. But suggesting to the buyer that you switch to a different brand of sausage will catch the publisher’s attention. I guarantee it. Write a letter to whoever was responsible for choosing that textbook. Explain the problem with the quality, and suggest that a competing book from a different publisher be selected for the following year’s students. Send a copy of the letter to the president of the publishing company. Hit where it hurts—in the wallet.